When Money Is Everything

A friend told me the other day that she’d read an article about why university degrees are useless – especially in fields where the job isn’t exactly well-paying in the first place.

Well, I did try convincing my parents not to put me in university. But I couldn’t help feeling bad for them. They certainly don’t deserve a daughter who couldn’t be talked out of an English degree. I know how much they’d thought raising four children would allow them to retire comfortably, with a big house, a Mercedes and a beautiful garden. At the rate we’re going, they might have to settle with a tiny flat, the public bus and a potted sunflower to talk to.

They’ve been working towards that goal their entire lives. A good life means being able to watch the television (or for the modern parent, to scroll through Facebook and believe every single “advisory” their friends post) and keep busy with the garden. I feel horrible denying them of that right and the right of seeing their children living the high life. Their friends’ kids are all accomplished people. Most of them have medical degrees or are working towards one. Or else, there’s always the lawyer and the engineer who would be the next big name on the local papers. How embarrassed must they feel, having to tell all those people that their daughter is majoring in English? And that she’s loving her university life?

My relationship status: It's complicated with this book.

My relationship status: It’s complicated with this book.

It’s almost unholy. In Asia, if you’re enjoying what you’re studying, you’re most likely going to end up poor. It’s all about the suffering, yo. Seriously, suffering is the new black here (people compete to see who got the least sleep). If we suffer first, we’ll end up rich. I’ve gotten so much advice on how I should choose the most practical major, because what I learn in school will not matter when I’m looking for a job. The point is to get a good, well-paying job.

I cannot emphasise the misery I’d felt while I was pursuing a life in the sciences (which I found isn’t to be well-paying as well). It definitely worked for some, but it didn’t work for me. I couldn’t see myself doing anything related to that and it bothered me every night while I lay in my bed dreading the upcoming lab sessions. People in the field came to talk to us. Our lecturers shared their passion with us. They definitely had more than twenty dollars in their pocket. What can I do with more than $10,000 a month?

I’d be more well-dressed I guess. I’d eat at cafes more often and go on trips once a year. But I’ll be miserable for the remainder of it. Which isn’t so worth it, given that a woman’s average lifespan is 85 years (in Singapore). The retirement age here is 62, which means I’ll be working for 38 years with 23 years of time to do what I truly want to do (and not have the energy to actually do it). I really don’t think that it’s worth it… and that’s when people come in and say, “You’re consoling yourself.”

I’m sorry to all the advocates of human suffering out there, but I’d much rather be spending the bulk of my life (and my youth) enjoying myself than being the rich old woman with a casino loyalty card just because she’s lonely and doesn’t have anywhere to use up her money.

It’s true, I may run out of cash during my retirement. But if all else fails, there’s always rat poison (strangely enough, this seems to be the go-to method for the elderly). I just have to be sure that I buy it when I still can afford it. 😉

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One thought on “When Money Is Everything

  1. Don’t worry so much about your major determining your financial fate for the rest of your life. Life is long. Things happen and circumstances change. If money is what you’re after, you’ll find it regardless of how you spend your undergraduate time. Hard work is all that matters, not where your interests lie.

    I majored in English, and I’m living comfortably. Being an English major offers more preparation for the ‘real world’ than people seem to think. Knowing how to communicate effectively is a valuable and marketable skill that you can be paid handsomely for, and it’s lost on graduates with more technical degrees.

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