Five years ago I was going to school to get my doctorate in physical therapy.
Why did I want to be a physical therapist?
Simple, I Googled their salary and it started at about $100,000 a year.
I was sold. I’d always been interested in the human body and I figured this could be my way of making money and giving back, as I’d be helping people recuperate from injuries-that’s good karma right?
When the opportunity to volunteer at a children’s hospital arose, I took it without hesitation. I thought, “This is going to be epic!” I got my hospital badge and practically skipped my way through the doors for my first day.
Three hours later I walked out of those sliding doors, my feet dragging and my heart heavy.
Was $100,000 even worth it?
This job would never fulfill me in the way that I had always thought my career would.
I debated with myself for months. I fought with my internal feelings that told me to run away as fast as I could and my brain telling me that I needed this job to make the money that I wanted to.
I had this argument for so long that by the time I realized that I wasn’t willing to sign my happiness away for $100,000 a year I was already so far into my degree it didn’t make any sense to stop.
Three years after I graduated with my degree in biology and chemistry and all of my premed requirements, I’m writing this from a Starbucks in Costa Rica.
I’m staying in a room that cost $12 a night. I live out of a backpack. I shower with flip flops on. I don’t even own a hair dryer.
I have never been happier.
If I could time travel back and tell my twenty year old self one piece of advice, it would “Money will never make you happy.”
Had I chosen the path that my heart was so against, I would be very comfortable right now. I would probably be figuring out where I wanted to buy a house, be driving a nice car and have a house filled with nice things.
Instead I have a backpack full of dirty clothes.
Deciding to forget about chasing money and instead choosing to focus on my happiness has been the best decision of my life.
My fear was that without money I would never be happy. It turns out, with less money I am happier than most of my acquaintances.
With less stuff, I can travel the world permanently and have epic experiences that are shaping me into a well rounded, educated and thoughtful person.
The decision to forget about money and let my happiness show me the way has taken me to the most stunning beaches in the world. I have flown on fourteen planes in eight months, stamped my passport over four times and met people from all over the world.
It turns out that my heart was right. $100,000 was not worth exchanging my happiness. If you offered me $100,000 to stop traveling and give up my writing career in return for a secure job with health benefits I would actually laugh in your face.
Money is not buying myself, my friends, my family members or anybody I have met among my travels happiness.
What is giving them happiness? Experiences like travel, falling in love, trying new things, reading epic books and finding their place in this world.
This is the secret to happiness. My twenty year old self would be proud to know of how far I’ve come and I think even more excited to see how her life was going to unfold.
Forego the money and dive head first into experiencing as many things as you possibly can as young as you can. Let it change you, shape you and spit you out as brand new and epic person.