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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Column: Love of money

“I wanna be a billionaire, so freakin bad … Buy all of the things I never had …”

A billion dollars. Do any of us know what that really is? I mean, on paper, it’s $1,000,000,000. The number one followed by nine zeros. If you can actually conceptualize one billion dollars in your mind, hats off to you. I’m jealous. I personally can’t wrap my head around it. I even did a Google search of “what can one billion dollars buy” and the results were quite unsatisfactory.

You think one billion is challenging? Imagine 20 billion dollars. This past Friday, that’s how much this 28-year-old CEO nearly made in one day with his company’s IPO (initial public offering). The CEO is Mark Zuckerberg — you’ve probably never heard of him. He created this site called Facebook that apparently a lot of people use. His company’s stocks went on the market and the hype earned him a little bit of extra pocket money.

When I heard the news about the Facebook founder’s feat, I felt a range of emotions, from awe to disgust to envy to disbelief. The starting salary for a journalist? About 30 to 50 thousand dollars. Here I am, sleep-deprived and stressed out. I’m incurring debt and slaving away in classes in hopes of maybe earning a semi-decent living someday while someone is making billions in less than 24 hours.

I definitely won’t be breaking any “youngest self-made billionaire” records, and I’m OK with that. The older I get and the more I explore my field of interest, the more I realize that I’m really not in it for the money. I love expressing myself and connecting with others through writing. If I can continue to do that with my future career and provide for myself and my family, I will be more than happy.

That’s not to say that I don’t like money. You wouldn’t have to hold a gun to my head to get me to enjoy the luxe life. I wouldn’t terribly mind weekend trips to New York, summers in Saint Tropez, shopping sprees on Fifth Avenue, fine dining, decked-out sports cars and invites to exclusive upper-crust parties. It wouldn’t kill me to never have to worry about money.

I could tolerate it, but it’s not my main aspiration in life. It’s not the end goal, the light at the end of this long, dark scantron and Red Bull-lined tunnel. It’s not what will fulfill me. Honestly, I don’t think the promise of money alone can fulfill anyone.

I remember when I was in high school, my mom wouldn’t let me get a paying job. It’s not that she didn’t want me to have a sense of autonomy or a strong work ethic or any of the other benefits of being employed. She told me directly that she didn’t want me to develop a “love of money” — at least not at that age. I needed to focus on my grades, and I could get the same benefits from volunteering. It was the right decision.

There are some of you out there majoring in something you can’t stand because you want to have a lot of money in the future. You might want to take the time to think about the long-term implications of that decision. And there are some people out there who forwent getting an education or working hard, choosing instead to take shortcuts in order to get rich quick. We all know how that tends to work out (or not work out).

I’ve gradually let go of my quest for riches in exchange for a journey of following my passions. Not that riches and passions are mutually exclusive, but it’s better to pursue the latter and let the former come to you. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, but it’s nice to be reminded of the big picture every once in awhile.

That being said, there’s nothing fulfilling about my current status of Broke College Student, either, so if you’ve got the hook up with a summer job, feel free to get in touch immediately.

She’s not joking. To receive her resume and cover letter, contact PAMELA NONGA NGUE at pamnonga@ucdavis.edu.

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