You Are More Than Just a Wage ~ Personal Finance Blog

People walk around pushing back their debts
Wearing paychecks like necklaces and bracelets
Talking about nothing, not thinking 'bout death
Every little heartbeat, every little breath
- Brett Dennen

I remember when I was 22 years old, I was working 3 different jobs to pay my way through technical college. At the time I wanted to be a police officer. 

(Side note: I would have made a TERRIBLE police officer, really glad I moved on from that)

One of my jobs was slinging drinks at a bar and one night someone I had gone to school with came in with a group of his friends. I had to wait on them....and while the majority of the group were cool, this particular person made some snide remark about "So....THIS is what you're doing with your life?"

Yeah. I was making shit money at a pretty shit job. I was making shit money at three different shit jobs because college is expensive and sorry Little Lord Fauntleroy, my parents didn't hand me the keys to a castle when I turned 18. 

I realized then that part of being an adult is being judged by your job/wage. Typically this is the first question people ask in mixed company or when kicking off a round of stimulating small-talk.

"So, what do you DO?"

They really mean "How much do you make?" 

Let's be honest. We are all just looking to see if we measure up to those in our peer group, most of the time.

What do they do, what do they make, where do they live, what do they drive? It's what energizes spending and marketing. See what that guy has? I want it. It's simple.

But, when we allow ourselves to play by these widespread rules, it negates all of our other gifts that we have to give to the world. 

Yes, I was a low wage worker. 
Yes, I came home smelling like grease and cigarettes and would head right to the local pool hall for cheap beer and a chance to just SIT. 
Yes, I lived in a crappy apartment and survived off cheap delivery pizza because I didn't really know how to cook.

But I also wrote constantly in those years.
I wanted to maybe go to law school or study sociology, I wasn't sure (sociology eventually won out). 
I knew....someday...I wanted a job where I didn't have some half-wit boss that I couldn't possibly muster respect for. Don't we all?
But I knew stuff wasn't just going to HAPPEN to me, I had to make it happen (or die in a vat of french fry grease trying).

We are all more than just a wage.

Here's the thing I learned (probably too late in life): my wage is simply a tool. Whether it's a big shovel or a small little baby shovel, it's a tool to attack debt and build wealth. Learning how to leverage that tool and correctly apply it to the task at hand is the basis of personal finance.

You are not defined by your wage, you are defined by your loves, your actions, your attitude, and your approach to life. 

Having a big, healthy bank account does not make you a better PERSON than someone who is just scraping by. Just the same, being rich does not make you automatically evil just as being poor does not make you automatically good and humble. I've met many rich people who are giving, wonderful, humble folks.....and poor people who are straight jackasses. And vice versa. 

We are all more than just a wage. 

While we learn to apply healthy personal finance tenants, let's work.....simultaneously....on becoming rich in other ways:  rich in understanding and rich in our love for learning, rich in work ethic and idea cultivation, rich in giving when we can and accepting help when we need it.

When I was hit with a snide remark nearly 20 years ago about my apparent lot in life, it stung. But it also spurred me on. My job was a tool....a ladder to the life I eventually wanted. Every table I waited on, every drink I served, every brake part I tested on the factory didn't define me, but it did build a part of who I am today. 


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