"Some people are so poor, all they have is money." - Patrick Meagher
In the past few weeks, after coming back to San Luis Obispo and resuming the college student life, I frantically applied for jobs. I had moved away from home after winter break with a stubborn determination to be independent - which, at this point, meant financially independent. And a series of interviews and meetings later, I'm here working three part-time and freelance jobs as a full-time student.
But why? Why is making money so important to me? Why do I spend time calculating how many hours I'll need to work in order to pay my own rent and credit card bills every month? It's almost as if I'm obsessed with numbers and how to regulate my life. Because honestly speaking, they do.
It's embarrassing to admit, but I pretty much make all my decisions based on money - where to live, how much to work, where to eat, how to entertain myself. Photography is free. Going to the beach is free. Hiking is free. Even my photography skills developed based on money. I shoot natural light because I can't afford lighting equipment. I shoot portraits because my cheap 50mm lens is perfect for them. Back to my point.
I grew up in an Asian household learning to save and be frugal. We rarely went out to eat because cooking is so much cost-effective. My parents worked all the time, shopped in the cheap grocery stores, reprimanded us for leaving lights on in an empty room, shopped for clothes at flea markets, cut our own hair because, well, who wants to pay for a hair stylist.? And so, over time, these habits stuck to me. It's almost become fun for me to save money.
Except now, I'm starting to calculate my free time based on pay. I work as much as I can to earn more. I sell my soul doing mundane jobs that suck the life out of me to scrape up those extra dollars. I'm letting money regulate my life, and forgetting what's really important. Time is money. I'm wasting my time earning a few extra dollars instead of enriching my soul. Is it possible I'm filling up my free time with work to avoid what I should be doing? Am I choosing to live off easy money instead of valuing myself and using my talents to do challenging things I know I'll be proud of?
Am I wasting my time making mediocre art for money instead of creating things that'll fulfill my soul? Have I sold myself to The Man?