By Lani Tunzi
Though I didn’t always know what I want to do with my life, I did always know this: I want to make money.
Even as a child, this was a crucial component of what I wanted to be when I grew up.
My 1st-grade desire to be a veterinarian had less to do with a profound love for pets and more with an understanding that where there’s medicine, there’s money — and a puppy seemed more appealing to little me than a person.
I’d scrounge the couch cushions for change (and trade the coins for a bill). I even waited on the family Thanksgiving dinner table: I’d sling a decorative napkin over my forearm, deliver coffees and joyously collect pocket-change tips from my relatives. All proceeds would be deposited into a piggy bank kept in a box under my bed and the balance counted every night.
I’ve had great luck finding fun and interesting ways of keeping some money in my pocket. Everything from babysitting, house sitting, tutoring and dog-walking gigs, to focus groups for kids movies, to selling clothes to schoolmates.
I’ve also had the great honor of working at the pie counter at Eagle Rock’s Knowrealitypie – one of my personal favorites. And the best job of all, being a columnist for the Boulevard Sentinel. These latter jobs really opened my eyes to something I could never believe as a kid: it is possible to make money and do something that fulfills you simultaneously.
Now, as a college student, my attitude towards money-making continues to evolve. It has started to dawn on me how adults can become so cynical, now that I’m paying bills and filing taxes. My desire to make money now comes more from necessity than enjoyment. I’m starting to feel more and more angry at the whole game, more pressure to do what’s necessary to get by, and overall disappointment that that’s simply how the world works.
As a college student, I want to be taking this time in my life to find what it is I’m passionate about. I want to stop filtering average income into the equation of my future. It’s not that I don’t want to make money, but I want success to be measured by my well-being rather than my bank account. Those variables shouldn’t be synonymous.
My peers and I are navigating a dysfunctional system with an outdated instruction manual. Sometimes the wheel needs to be reinvented, when there’s simply too many cogs for it to keep rolling. And if there’s anything I really do know, it’s that there’s no greater threat to the status quo than angry or otherwise unsatisfied youth.
Lani Tunzi, Class of 2020 at Eagle Rock High, is a freshman at UC Santa Barbara.
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