That’s right people. I work 8:30- 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, sometimes Saturdays. I work a minimum of 40 hours a week. Sounds normal right? Wrong because, at the end of the two week pay period, I do not receive a paycheck. I receive pay through a bi-monthly “Living Allowance” that totals about $406 dollars after taxes. I work for a local nonprofit organization that gets money from VISTA, a federally funded subset of AmeriCorps that focuses on fighting poverty in the U.S. The most interesting factor? That “service members earn wages near the poverty line by design, so they are able to gain an understanding of the people they help and how best to serve them.”
In the beginning, I was a little skeptical about joining a national service because of this. I thought over and over about how I was going to survive with this type of pay. I mean post-graduation; I was barely getting by living with my parents. I could not afford to be broke. Then one day, while walking down the aisle of a local grocery store it came to me. Whether a paycheck, living allowance, or compensation in jelly filled doughnuts; it is not always about the physical return.
In order to understand where I’m coming from with this, you may have to forget a few things — what our fathers told us: “You’ll have to work your ass off for money at a job you can’t stand.” And yes ladies, we have to forget what our mothers told us about as well: “You’ll never have enough money, so marry somebody who does.” And yes people we must also forget the lyrics of the Notorious B.I.G, C.R.E.M.E, Cash rules everything around me, get the money dolla dolla bill yall. Forget about what you’ve been told because right now money is not the motive.
So here it is. Let’s say for instance we were able to purchase impalpable things. For instance let’s say that instead of there being food on the shelves of the local grocery store; there were things of substance such as “patience” and “humility.” What if there were containers of “purpose”, “soft skills” and “integrity” on the shelves. Would you purchase these items if you could? Most likely you are nodding your head yes. Deep down inside, these are things we wish were that easy to obtain. However, these are things that money can’t buy.
I believe that, in lieu of a fat paycheck, I am reaping other non-monetary benefits that are worth much more. Through experience, it is possible that your life can radically improve in the form of better relationships, personal growth, peaked performance, and fulfillment of your wildest dreams.
Does a smaller paycheck mean that you have a job that makes a minimal impact on no impact at all? The fact is that some of the individuals who make the most positive impact in this world and are the happiest, don’t make much. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying money isn’t a necessity for survival, but it doesn’t have to be your only motivation. I have decided to embark on a journey of putting making a difference, before making a living. This is one hell of a commitment. However, without commitment we have little direction or purpose in life. Although it can seem hard, unrealistic and unmanageable at times, I know that, in the end, it will all be worth it.