In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson states that the three unalienable rights for all are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But what happens when this last one is taken away?
On every college campus, some students choose areas of study and jobs that promise the highest salary, rather than the ones they’re actually interested in. This is problematic for several reasons. Many students are thrown into college not knowing what they would like to study. They meet confusion when asked to choose between the job that will make the most money and the one that they love. Rather, the ideal should be finding a future that provides the most fulfillment possible.
The goal of attending college is for an individual to study their area of interest, but that is often skewed. Instead, there is an overabundance of students who pursue the area that they think that they should be studying. For example, the student whose parents are both lawyers may feel pressured to go into the same profession. The kid who comes from a family of lower socioeconomic standing may make it his or her goal to earn more money than the generation before.
This epidemic presents not only individual problems, but cultural and societal ones as well. Each year, Forbes releases a list of the highest-paying jobs; surgeons earned the esteemed number-one spot in 2015. But the underlying issue exacerbated by such lists is the glamorization of money. There is no attention given to the years of study or the debt that will be incurred, but instead only to the salary. This leads to job dissatisfaction, despite high pay. A 2014 study by the Conference Board indicated that 52.3 percent of Americans are unhappy with their jobs. The emphasis needs to be shifted away from the money and onto what individuals enjoy.
We, as a society, are draw toward gleaming numbers and luxurious lifestyles. In our culture, the ultimate goal is to make the most money possible. This is exemplified by the prominence of corporations that promote this culture of excess in the the U.S. We enter the lottery to win millions of dollars, we idolize CEOs and billionaires and we unknowingly endorse this ideal of placing money before all else, including happiness. Individuals are pressured to pursue the jobs that will earn the most money and provide the best image of themselves. Perhaps this is a reason why the level of workplace dissatisfaction among Americans has been rising since the 20th century.
This article is not meant to foster hatred toward money itself, but to draw focus toward the more important issues. By focusing on happiness rather than money, more people will be in jobs that they enjoy. Fewer people will be depressed or hate their careers. This is the ideal, but it is highly unlikely to occur until we decide that we care about our own happiness and our own self-care, rather than the glistening dollar signs.
Kara Bilello is a freshman double-majoring in English and Spanish.