Fame and fortune (or the lack thereof)?

On fame and fortune…Or the lack thereof.

This article intrigues me. I know there’s the old adage of “money can’t buy happiness“, and that’s something I can fully appreciate. I went from being a broke undergrad, to having marginally more money as a slightly less broke grad student on a scholarship, to having a relatively decent income as a postdoc. Am I happy? Not even close.

I love my job, but my personal life is a nightmare. Like most postdocs, I am constantly scrambling to find research funding to keep myself employed. I have absolutely no job security at all. My life is a constant state of stress. But that aside, I am still trying to maintain some semblance of a personal life. It’s hard. People think my life is glamorous because I travel a lot. It’s not. It’s work travel – I spend most of my time sitting in hotels and in airports. I go somewhere for a week and when I’m not “on the job”, I’m probably holed up in my hotel room trying to catch up on email using crappy hotel wi-fi. I don’t get to go sightseeing or do the tourist thing. I fly in, do the job, and fly out. When you’re not home for 4-5 months of the year because you’re travelling, it’s incredibly difficult to try and maintain a relationship. Mine tend to turn sour very quickly when people realise that I’m out of the country so often and simply don’t have the time to spend with them – as much as I might want to. It’s no secret that I don’t want kids (I will probably write a separate blog entry on that at some point), but I’m not going to pretend that I don’t want to find someone to settle down with. It’s just that my job makes that such an unrealistic proposition.

So what’s the sacrifice for the half decent postdoc income? No life. I mean sure, I’ve paid off my student loans now, and I don’t really need to worry about paying the rent or putting food on the table. I’m not homeless or starving (yet…who knows what’ll happen when my contract runs out?). I can even afford to go on diving holidays a couple of times a year. But I am absolutely miserable. I am away from nearly all of my friends. I am away from all my family. I am living in a city that I absolutely loathe – but at least I like my job, right?

I have to wonder whether this is the same attitude that is prevalent in those referred to in the New York Post article? Getting to live somewhere you love, but sacrificing your sanity in the process. Getting one thing you want (the job, the location, the money, the relationship, the lifestyle) at the expense of everything else.

Do I think money can buy happiness? No. But I also think the lack of money is just as bad. If I couldn’t afford to travel and get out of Perth on a regular basis, I’m pretty sure I’d be even more miserable than I already am.


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