This I Believe

Erin - Ada, Michigan
Entered on May 4, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

“I have learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.”

I have always been a dreamer and a planner. I love sitting back and imagining my life as it may unfold. I love to create idealistic situations that realistically I will probably never find myself in, as well as plan the situations I am confident will occur. For as long as I can recall, becoming a practicing E.R. doctor had always been one aspect of these plans that I was confident would be a part of my future. There are several characteristics of the career that attracted me to it; the fast pace atmosphere, the fact that no two days would ever be the same, the white coat prestige, and the handsome salary to name a few.

Last spring when I graduated from high school, I enrolled here at Lewis University as a biology major and set the wheels in motion. Everything appeared to be unfolding as planned.

Then, over the summer, I had the opportunity to spend several weeks relaxing and exploring southern Germany. These few weeks were some of the best in my life. Not only was I able to immerse myself in a culture and language which I love, but the experiences I had there altered the way I viewed my future.

One afternoon, my mom, my aunt, and I were sitting in a café in T-bingen, Germany; a beautiful little University town littered with winding cobble stone roads, gorgeous old fountains, and rich history at every glance. Over refreshing Eis Kaffees, we were discussing how amazing our past few weeks had been. At one point my aunt remarked how she had noticed that Germans had truly mastered the art of “working to live.” Puzzled by this comment, I asked her what she meant. She went on to explain that in life when it comes to working, every person is faced with a decision; they can either live to work, or work to live. I let these words run through my mind and tried to process the meaning and power behind them. As I did so, I found myself reflecting upon my past weeks in Germany. I had met so many different people in my short time there, and each of them was willing to show me and share with me a little piece of their lives. Despite the fact that not many of these new friends and acquaintances I had met appeared to be extraordinarily wealthy, they still all seemed to be extraordinarily happy. This is when it dawned on me. I knew I had understood exactly what my aunt had meant when she said what she did. I also knew that I had a choice to make.

Work to live. That has since been my decision.

I have decided that I don’t need a 12 hour work day so I can come home to my beautiful house late at night, pay my fulltime nanny, and then kiss my already sleeping children goodnight. I don’t need to drive to work 364 days a year, even if it may be a shiny Beamer that takes me there. I don’t want my work to be my life. At this point I do not know what I want to do with my degree or what my career aspirations are. There is one thing that I do know however, and that is that I believe that making a living is not the same thing as making a life, and when given the two options, I know what my choice will be.