An Open Letter to Everyone Who Has Ever Said, “I Just Want to Do Something I Love With My Life”
I used to be just like you.
I did all the right things. I went to college, declared a violin performance major, practiced up to seven hours solo per day, not including all the ensembles, chamber rehearsals, coachings and lessons I participated in. Then I graduated and moved across the country (for my art!) and spent thousands of more hours on a masters degree.
I am now self-employed “doing what I love”, and let me tell you a secret: the first time you are diagnosed with a potentially dangerous medical condition and cannot afford necessary blood work and/or follow up care, your “love”, your art, your life, and your passion will get a whole lot less fun, REALLY QUICKLY. Yes, I know you think it will never happen to you. I didn’t either. I am extremely healthy, I never get sick (in the sense of “catch a cold”), I run and do gymnastics and work out regularly and eat very healthy nutrient dense whole foods. But I was diagnosed with Raynaud's Phenomenon, which is where the capillaries in my toes randomly spasmed for no reason, leaving them purple for the coldest four months of each year. I was advised to have extensive blood work done, as Raynaud's can be indicative of an underlying rheumatoid condition, but there was no way I could afford it. So I'm hoping for the best.
So why am I writing this? If you are in high school, thinking about your college major, or if you know any high schoolers, I am pleading with you to tell them how critically important it is to choose an employable major over a fun major. Use me for an example if you want. But please choose a major with a potential for getting a job, with health benefits. Your life might very well depend on it in the future.
If you are young and not currently married, DO NOT assume that you will just get married to someone who will provide you benefits. You may never get married. And if you do get married, your spouse’s job might not have benefits either. Or they could lose their job. And they could decide to divorce you and leave you just as alone as before you were married. So counting on marriage to provide benefits is unreliable at best.
And even if you never ever get sick or injured, which is highly unlikely, if you ever want to be a mom, just having a baby (with a perfect delivery and no complications whatsoever) will run you about $10,000. That is a pretty large bill to foot on a job that probably doesn’t even give you paid time off.
Some of you may be saying “But even if I choose a traditionally employable job, I may still not land a job with benefits.” That is true, so you need to be smart and prepare yourself as well as you can. If you are still in school, keep your grades up. Do extra credit. Volunteer. Shadow. Study abroad. Take every opportunity that comes your way, because they will all boost your odds of getting a decent job. Yes, that means it will be a lot of hard work. But I promise it will not be as hard as trying to get out of medical debt in the future while working retail.
A Concerned Self-Employed Citizen With Crappy Health Insurance