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Why Do You Want A Raise In The First Place? – Cameron Robinson – Medium

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From poverty to insecure prosperity.

Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

Kanye West is by no means a Socrates of our times but every now and then he (or however may be writing whichever song he has) says something worth pondering in a good way. In his song Good Life, he says, “Havin’ money’s not everything, not havin’ it is.” In a way that line sort of turns the upbeat song about what it’s like to accumulate wealth into somewhat of a somber reflection. When you don’t have money to simply live above paycheck to paycheck, money is often what is on the mind. Though when you eventually get above that and you start splurging and you start buying things, when you have the good life, you really start to understand that money isn’t everything. For all the enjoyment, the fun and the experiences, you really aren’t that much happier with money.

This is what I found out upon switching careers. Fresh out of college with an English Degree, I found it difficult to figure out a way to apply my skills in a way that would actually generate income. I was also questioning whether or not writing was something I wanted to do as a full-time job, an issue that I should have brought up to myself before getting a degree. A few years out of college of fluctuating between making $8–10/hr doing factory work or data entry, I enrolled in a coding bootcamp. 6 months after the bootcamp I was doing front-end development for a fledgling start-up downtown. I was going out, eating and drinking, attending sports games, going out on more dates, buying new clothes, camera gear, computers. I wasn’t splurging by any means. Well, maybe a little. But this was quite a boost up from where I was. Raised in a black, single, female head household scraping just above the poverty line. Then came newer developer jobs with higher salaries. More of everything. Then I met someone. I bought her a ring and she bought me one and we decided to spend the rest of our lives together. I’m making decent money as a software engineer. She’s about to finish residency and get on a doctor’s salary. It’s likely that we will never have to worry about money for the rest of our lives.

It’s funny. When we go over plans for kids, we often wonder if what we make will be enough. I knew families where both parents together brought in only 20K a year, managing to give them and their 2–4 kids 3 meals a day, a relatively safe living space, keeping them clean and supported. It’s the anxiety-ridden question of having money that gets embedded in our culture in every ad for the newest and shiniest thing: will what you have ever be enough? When I was younger I wondered why famous people kept making more and more money, working harder and harder to grow their fortunes. Despite all the talk of wanting to leave something behind, wanting to grow it because you can, in reality, it is like I and every other poor kid that gets any measure of wealth are plagued by the subconscious anxiety that what we have is not enough. It’s status. It’s power. It’s prestige. It’s social leverage. Whatever it is, just know that it won’t make you happy.

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