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Tomorrow: You graduate from Harvard. You're in the hock more than $10,000 in student loans. You take that high-paying job "for just a couple of years, until I can get myself out of debt and save some money." You aren't really that excited about bond trading, investment banking, corporate law, consulting or whatever. But then again, who is? Besides, the money is good. Damn good.
Five years later: you have a spouse and a kid on the way. Can't quit now; you have a family to take care of. "Just a few more years," you say, "then I can quit this job and do something fulfilling."
Twenty years later: Can't quit now. You have a mortgage, orthodontist bills, and tuition bills are just around the corner. Your next promotion is coming up soon. Besides, if you leave your job, you lose more than a guaranteed income; you lose health insurance, retirement benefits--your security.
Thirty years later: It's a damn good thing you're making a six-figure salary, because you dread getting out of bed in the morning. The first-class vacations are amazing--really relaxing--but they don't come nearly often enough. You'd love to do something else, but it's too late to pick up everything and start over. Besides, retirement is only 10 years away...10 long years away.
Forty years later: A gold watch, a generous monthly retirement check, a healthy investment portfolio. Retirement should be good. It had better be, after spending your entire working life in a worthless job that could never fulfill you.
But you didn't have any choice, did you?
John L. Larew '91 is editorial chair of The Crimson.
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