I’d rather be poor and happy than rich and alone.
I first heard these lyrics on September 1st, 2013. Lady Gaga was performing a new ballad called I Wanna Be With You, which would later turn into the significantly less innocent Dope, at the iTunes festival.
(Did you think this was gonna be about you?)
I was freshly 14 at the time; yet still I found the lyric a bit cliché. Yes. Sure. Money can’t buy happiness. Yada yada yada. Funny coming from a multimillionaire, right? It’s not that I thought she was lying, but it was pretty unconvincing. I was glad the final song had switched the line for something more poignant (been hurting low from living high for so long).
As you can tell, since I’m making this post, it doesn’t end there. Yes, as I grew older, I started thinking about it quite a lot.
What do I want in life? I love things. Things are great. I enjoy spending money on food, on books, on useless junk from AliExpress. I love getting presents. I hate losing money. But does that make me materialistic? Those “preferences” are in no way rare – almost everyone can relate. But then again, there’s no denying the world itself is materialistic…
But what do I really want in life? In the wise words of Beyon-S Noles Female Pop Vocalist: “My aspiration in life… Is to be happy“.
Insert “you don’t say!” meme here. Yes, I know it seems obvious. But let’s think, do most of us really strive to be happy?
Actually I’ll stop asking rhethorical questions and talk about myself a bit. I mean it’s my blog goddamit, I’m not giving a pep talk.
I want to be happy. And to accomplish that, I had to test out what works for me. Money can’t buy happiness? Who said that? This doesn’t go for everyone. I needed to find out for myself.
And indeed, it did apply to me. I will spare myself the pain of recapping the horrible experiences I had during last year’s summer job as a bartender; I’ll just focus on what came after. Yes, I made money, more money than I had ever had. I spent the following month doing whatever I fancied with it, living the “happy” life. I couldn’t deny that having money indeed made me feel better.
But that was short lived. It ended, not even a month after I had gotten my paycheck. It ended and the fun ended with it. I wanted more money? I was gonna have to work another painful month. So is this happiness? Working until you hate yourself, then getting a few pieces of paper in return and worrying about when they would run out and you’d have to work again?
As soon as I made that realization, I made a pact with myself: I was never going to do something I don’t enjoy for money again. It is just not worth it and the happiness it brings is conditioned by how much time I get before I’ll have to go back to doing that loathed thing. This is basically the definition of being enslaved by money. H e l l t o t h e n a h.
Some might say “well, this is life, kid”. I – ignorantly, foolishly, maybe even deludedly, call me what you wish – say no. See, my life isn’t that special: there are billions who live now, who have lived, and who will live long after I’m gone. If by any chance my refusal to submit to this horrible cycle leads to my life being a total failure, then be it; it’s not like hanging myself isn’t an option.
En bref, this is how I discovered that for me, abundant money will never be a constant source of happiness if earning that money will make me suffer emotionally. Building a fortune is just never going to do it for me.
Am i really settling for “poor and happy” then? No. Sorry Gaga, but that’s way too black and white. Why not “middle class and content”? I’m perfectly fine with that! And that’s why I chose to major in English. I’m a bright student, and would virtually succeed in any domain I set my mind to. Those big money jobs, you know. But I just couldn’t see myself doing anything in a few decades except what I’m good at and enjoy doing, which is reading and writing. I know I have probably discarded my chances of being wealthy – and while I would like that, I don’t think I’d like it more than being satisfied with what I do for a living. I’m trusting myself on this one.
Thank you, Gags. Thank you, Bey. Thank you, Byblos Sur Mer, you miserable fragment of hell. Thank you for showing me the way.