I heard yet another comparison of salary, and it made me desperate to catch up. Catch up to what exactly? Nothing but the mere feeling of comparison.
As if a blind number can encompass any myriad of things that make up real life. It would be (relatively) easy to pursue an exchange of your soul for more money. But that is not what should be compared.
It is also easy to fool yourself into pursuing socially respected pathways to money. Take finance, or any other 'conventional' industry. But what would be the point?
The point is to focus on what you really want to do. Not in the way that you throw caution to the wind. But in the way that you seriously consider what your inner life wants.
This involves the day-to-day experience, where you want to be in the world, and the type of environment you want to mould for yourself. Stop thinking about only the number you get paid with. Think, and see the forest for the trees.
How do you maintain this focus? How do you not fall into the lull of competition and base insecurity? Start with imagining the dreaded day-to-day life of a soulless, hellish job. Picture and remember the minute-to-minute torture. Denigration, power hierarchy, and the absolute feeling that your precious time is being eaten up.
Once you have the emotional shock, you can go on to focusing on the positive aspects. Picture the skills that you want to hone, the environment you want to be suffused in, and the relationships you wish to have. Hold on to these factors when imagining your future work.
This will mould you away from blind worship of a higher paycheck. Hopefully, it would inform your decisions such that you come out happier in the long run. Or at least fulfilled. And definitely not denigrated.
Remember also that you can live the life you want to lead now. That is not to say that success will come immediately. But that you can start on the path you desire right now. There is no need to postpone this to the future. No need to wait on authorities to give you permission, for credentials that don't really matter, or the elusive sense of security that never comes. Just start now, and take comfort in that - so that you may be jolted away from the panic to pursue a 'respectable' job (that you don't really like).
When you've spent so much of your time pursuing optionality, and being praised for it, it's easy to fall into old patterns. But these blind pursuits will never help you. What of your own ambitions? Your ideal life? And your ideal future? You already know what you want, so stop smothering yourself with other people's thoughts.
Hold on and recognise that your life is yours to lead. Time is precious and giving it up blindly is no way to respect yourself. It is not selfish to spend your life preciously, for no one else will protect it for you.