In my first job, I was a high school english teacher. I loved what I did, but I earned minimum wage. That was my first year out of college, so naturally, I went out a lot with my friends – who were all mostly working in corporations. Every month-end, I had around P20 in my account.
A year later, I entered the corporate world. They more than doubled my salary, just like that! (even if I actually I thought I did a bit more work in school – where you are ruled by the bell and lesson plan submissions)
I bought a lot of things with my newfound extra cash, went out 1-2x a week with my friends, and gave nice Christmas gifts to my friends. This was also the year when Starbucks just opened in Manila. And oh boy, did I love my coffee.
My friends, this is what is so seductive about salaries. What it buys for us is a lifestyle. A lifestyle we weren’t used to when we were in school. All of a sudden, our purchasing power increases exponentially, and with that, our tastes somehow develop exponentially as well.
Baon and cheap cafeteria food for lunch will suddenly not be good enough. After some annual salary increases, Jollibee and “food courts” will not be good enough. Soon, we find ourselves spending huge sums of money on restaurants.
Eventually, eating out and nice Christmas gifts for friends become cars and condos. Worse, we buy them before we earn them – mostly through “great plans” our employers provide us, or these loans the banks ram down our throats (with all their ads selling the lifestyle, if you notice).
It isn’t any secret – all these great perks, your annually-augmented salary, and other benefits are designed precisely to keep you.
In just 2 years, you will be entitled to become a Manager, and then you will receive all these other perks and more importantly, a different pay grade! Then, you just wait a bit more, and then it’s VP time!
Don’t you notice that a better, flashier lifestyle is immediately dangled before us even if we just entered a new one? Here is your career. Here is what you’ll be receiving at every step.
In our pursuit of a better lifestyle though, aren’t we sacrificing a better life?
What about doing what we love? What about following our dreams? What about getting paid for something you’d do for free?
Oh, you can worry about that later in life. Much later. Look, here’s an 8% salary increase! Get yourself that new Retina Macbook!
Life or lifestyle? Frustratingly, it seems that to start pursuing one means denying yourself of the other. After awhile though, the differences surface. The more you choose lifestyle, the further your dreams can become. Witness the great number of corporate lifers who experience periodic existential angst.
But the longer your choose to pursue your dream? The likelier you end up with the lifestyle you thought you sacrificed anyway.