In college, I had no money and no friends. Now that I have graduated and have a full-time job, I find myself having money but still no friends.
They say that money doesn’t buy happiness. I agree. But at least with money, I can glamously aestheticize my sadness. If I didn’t have money, instead of smoking cigarettes on the windowsill of my Manhattan high-rise apartment gazing into the skyline, I would have to smoke in some ground-floor apartment in Queens next to a laser tag arena, which is not as aesthetic.
I never thought that money would bring me happiness. That being sad, I think the only thing that could bring me happiness are friends, but friends are often in short supply nowadays. There were a couple moments in my life when I felt like I had friends, but those moments come and go quickly. After reflecting for the past couple of years, I realized there’s not much I can do to form friendships beyond the opportunities that are naturally presented to me. Friends, after all, cannot be forced, and I don’t enjoy the process of making friends from scratch. I choose to forgo that effort in my life. But I can control how much money I make at a given time. Money can purchase aesthetics, which makes my life less sad.
I can choose to take some jobs over other jobs that offer better compensation or advancement opportunities than other jobs. If I cannot get the jobs I want now, then there are immediate efforts I can pursue to get the jobs that I want in the future. I used to think that there was some unpredictable force in recruiting that arbitrarily favored some candidates over others. There is a force, but it’s far from arbitrary. It’s just competence, and we can control how competent we are by how much effort we put into achieving competence.
Making friends, on the other hand, does not follow the same laws of competence as interviewing for jobs. In fact I would argue the opposite. The more people we become acqainted with, the more selective we are in who we call friends and who we do not. The more experiences we have, the more unqiue we become as individuals. The more unique we become, the less we are able to connect with other human beings who do not exhibit our same flavor of uniqueness.
Since the inception of storytelling as a medium, people have been writing about stories of the rich (@ all of premodernist British literature). These stories sell well because people are interested in the lives of the rich. From the Bennets in Pride and Prejudice to the Kardashians, there’s never been a time in society in which being rich was not a popular point of public discourse. This is because money, although unable to buy happiness, can buy aesthetics. It is only the object of aesthetic that has changed. Back then, it was horsedrawn carriages and ball gowns. Nowadays, it’s sports cars and designer jackets. Although I cannot buy my way to happiness, I can sure as hell buy my way to beauty.
I can’t choose when I suffer, but at least I can choose to suffer beautifully.