I don’t care about money anymore.

For the last almost 15 years of my life since I graduated from high school, I’ve felt overwhelmingly lost. I may as well have been wandering blindfolded through Siberia with my hands tied behind my back. Somehow or other I’ve managed to float from one job to the next, things I never really wanted to do, but it all just happened. I got really good at faking it enough to get hired in only the things I didn’t actually want to do.

I always return to my $325k+ networth, because that’s my one heaping achievement at this point in my life. I don’t own a house. I paid for my used car outright. I live in a relatively modest one bedroom shared with my boyfriend. I have no kids. I barely have a social life. I spend most of my time working or thinking about work or doing something related to work, despite not being nearly as productive as I should be. And I’ve given up on all of my dreams for fame or fortune. Right now, I just want to find my calling. I don’t need a six figure job. Ironically I find the more money I make the less I want to spend, the more I want to save – and I’ve figured out I can get away with about $3k a month in expenses, or less if I was desperate.

Part of me thinks I’m absolutely crazy. I should be fighting for my current life, my current job, with every ounce of my being. It may not be enough – I may just not be intellectually capable of doing a good job in this specific type of role – but I should at least be trying with all my might. I don’t feel like I have the right to be burnt out at this point – it isn’t burn out, it’s just the wrong fit. My whole life has been the wrong fit.

But I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not completely on the wrong path. There are elements of my role, the industry I am in, which are more than fulfilling. I just know that the only thing that stands between me and a life I can be proud of is the GRE. Yes, there’s graduate school as well, but the GRE is the big giant monster standing in my way. When I say this out loud it sounds like I’m throwing a pity party but I’m really not that intelligent in the book smart sense of the term. While I need a billion hour of study on quant to score decently on that section, I feel like I have a chance to master quant if I put my mind to it. I’m terrified of verbal, surprisingly enough, because my comprehension skills are limited.

Clearly I’ll need to study a lot for the GRE. With an undergraduate GPA of 3.2 (barely, it’s a bit all over the place) I don’t know i fan self-respecting graduate program would seriously consider my application without some crazy stellar GRE score. I’m talking top 95%. Or, you know, I just don’t go to grad school, and I figure out something else. But the longer I think about it… you know… 10 years or so… the more it’s clear that I need to go back to school to get where I want to be. There are specific programs I want to apply to, and all of these are at top schools to where I wouldn’t have dreamed of applying for undergrad. And I still think it’s rather funny I’m considering applying to them for grad school. If I were to actually get in, I think that would be the first actual accomplishment of my life that I’d be proud of.

At the moment I’m trying to figure out how to arrange my studying. I’m not opposed to putting $1000+ down on a class, but I feel like it would make more sense to TRY to study on my own and take the test first – see how I do after seriously studying on my own for two months or so, and then go take a class or get a tutor to hone up on the parts I couldn’t learn on my own. The whole prep class thing reeks of scam — the GRE is supposed to be the type of test one can learn themselves. And would 8 weeks of classes really get me where I need to be? Tutors are crazy expensive though. I realize compared to a $100k graduate program spending $5k on getting in is really not that insane. I just don’t think a one-size-fits-all type of program would really work. So I’m going to see what I can do on my own first… probably. I’d like to double down on quant first. Answering verbal questions is frustrating because I can’t go back and “work” them and figure out what I did wrong – other than memorizing words. And I SUCK at memorization.

In any case, the next 4 months of my life = intense GRE study. I need to approach this like a game. The game is the GRE. And I want to win it.

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4 comments

  1. less says:

    I just finished a graduate program at age 47 (and three-quarters — I’ll be 48 in August).

    Here is some advice:

    1. Call the schools you are interested in and talk to someone with the program. Find out what the average GRE score of the last incoming class is. Find out how much emphasis they put on GRE scores for people who are not straight out of undergrad. Explain to them why you are interested in their program. Ask them if the program seems like a good fit for you.

    GRE scores tend to matter more for people who haven’t done anything other than school.

    If you have been successful working (which it seems like you have been, otherwise you wouldn’t be making so much money) then you have something to show for yourself other than test scores, and the most important thing is to be clear about exactly why you want to go to this program, and to do a good job with the application and with the interviews.

    2. Buy a book to study from.

    A friend who worked as a contractor and went back to study social work took the test 3 times and told me that he liked the Princeton Review books the best so that is the one I used.

    If you tank after studying on your own, then pay for the prep course. But don’t pay for it if you don’t need to.

    3. Be sure to TIME YOURSELF when you are doing the practice exams. Doing math problems under time pressure is significantly different from doing math problems with all the time in the world. Learn from my mistake.

    4. If you are doing a complete career change, try to get some real-world experience in the new field by volunteering or doing indpendent projects in that field.

    For instance if you think you want to be a social worker, talk to someone who works as a social worker and ask what experience would help you decide if the career is a good fit for you. Then follow that person’s advice.

    This will significantly increase the strength of your grad school application, and will show that you are serious about this career. It will put you in contact with people who have experience in the field you want to enter who you can use as references. And it will help you figure out if something is not a good fit for you before you spend a lot of money on grad school.

    5. If you are thinking of moving to a different part of the coutry, pick a grad school program in the part of the country you want to move to. That way the network you make at grad school will be relevant to future career searches.

  2. Mr. A says:

    Wow, I never thought I’d hear that money doesn’t matter Joy. You and I are somewhat alike in terms of money and I just couldn’t go there. I could maybe reach a goal of millions of dollars then say money doesn’t matter. But, you and I are productive people who like to accomplish and earn things. I’d maybe try to do quant without paying for schooling and see if you like it before you go head in and you might end up feeling the same way as you do now. As the other commenter mentioned, maybe we just don’t like to work. Be patient and don’t rush anything. If you do decide to forego money, I’d suggest following your heart and finding happiness regardless of work… your nest egg will like plenty of years and you can build another one!

  3. Joy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    You are so right. I say I don’t care about money – but I also my current take is if I am not going to be fully happy with my job then I might as well do one where I like 50% of it and also where the salary is high. I mean, at the end of the day maybe I just don’t like working. I don’t know. It’s hard to know without trying something else out. I’m at this point where it doesn’t make sense to pivot until I’m forced to. I want to do the best job I can in my role today so I can save as much as possible before making that serious change. I’m hoping there are other roles that are a better fit. I mean, I feel like I’d be happier as a social worker, for example, earning fractions of my current salary – but being a social worker is a very hard job, and who knows if i’d really be happy doing that. I do know that at the end of the day if i feel like i’m helping people there will be a primary part of me that will be fulfilled. But not all social workers feel like they’re helping people with all the hoops to get through. So, yes, clearly change is necessary – but I don’t want to just blindly leap. I’m trying to figure out how to find what makes me happy.

  4. Money Beagle says:

    Well, if you keep doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same results, then it’s time to try something new. You’ve been focusing on salary with your last few jobs and none have led to happiness, so I think it’s time for a new approach. Find what makes you happy, and the money you need will come.

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