Love v. Money: The REAL Corporate Dilemma

Want to know a secret about me? Okay! For the first fresh months of my life in New York City, I helped supplement my income as a mildly “successful” freelance writer by working part-time at the Forever 21 store in Herald Square. Just a week or so ago, as I was leaving my fancy job at an iconic American fashion brand, I ran into an old retail colleague.

“Why do we work in this industry? It sure as hell ain’t for the money,” he said as we huddled close to the side of the building to try and escape a strong, brisk breeze. I wanted to tell him to speak for himself because I make solid coins…now! But it wasn’t always that way. Up until a couple of years ago, I wasn’t sure if things would ever change.

During my formative years in the city, I circled the drain of awful salaries. That included my first full-time gig at an extremely popular photography studio. On any given day, I would bump into music’s elite (Beyonce said “Hi” to me), clean up someone’s leftover cocaine (thanks, David LaChapelle and Courtney Love) and come face-to-face with royalty (Sarah Jessica Parker, anyone?). This was the shit I dreamed of and yet could barely pay my rent.

As a kid, I never wanted to be a firefighter or a doctor and I was as good on a sports team as a deflated blowup doll. Despite dressing like slobs and giving the impression that they didn’t make much money, I wanted to be a comic book artist. Correction: I wanted to be Michael Layne Turner, may he rest in peace. While I no longer dream of drawing an Uncanny X-Men cover, that slightly unpredictable, live-your-passion lifestyle continues to appeal to me. I’d rather make less money and enjoy what I do than work in a stressful, high-paying job that makes me want to order a helicopter and then jump out of it sans parachute.

He’s making sure his helicopter is waiting…

Not gonna lie, though. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve gone about this the wrong way. Like…the really wrong way. Hear me out. Do I do what I love and get paid nothing? Or do I work for the devil and get rich?

I know folks in finance both IRL and thanks to the internet. We’ve all heard/read stories of how they slaved away for a couple of years, collected ‘dem stacks (on stacks on stacks) and then ran off to launch some exciting business. I applaud them. They inspire me. At some point in the near-ish future, I’d love to start my own business, build a team and land in the pages of Forbes. Until then, I’ll say my morning affirmations and strut into someone else’s company so I can feed the corporate beast.

I can’t complain, though. I’m far from circling the aforementioned crappy salary drain! I have a subscription to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, go out to dinner/drinks with friends and occasionally buy $200 jeans so…shout out to them Benjamin’s, baby. I’d probably have many more pairs of premium denim in my closet if I had gone the route of a hedge fund fucker but that’s just not me. I like creativity! I like energy! I have to live my truth and that doesn’t include being a suit.

As Grace Coddington once said, “I can’t make believe that I believe something that I don’t believe.” Not to be outdone, Jennifer Lopez once said, “Can’t forget to stay real. To me it’s like breathing. Yeeeaaah!”

Two very different women, two very valid points.

See you tomorrow for another post.