| | From the World's Lowest-Paid International Lawyer
I am a 44-year old American lawyer. I graduated in the top 6% of my class at the University of Kentucky College of Law with a GPA of 3.56, and passed the California Bar Exam. I can speak and read Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. I am currently working for a large Chinese-American joint venture project in central China as inhouse corporate counsel. I am the only non-Chinese in the office.
Sounds impressive, eh?
My total income from all sources is US$12K a year, plus company-provided housing in a shared apartment. Perhaps I should apply to the Guiness Book of World Records for the title of "World's Lowest Paid International Lawyer". But the Marketing Department is next door, and my salary is about equal to the salaries of all of their employees combined (they make US$112 per month plus company-provided housing that is so ratty it doesn't even include air-conditioning or a refrigerator). So I feel lucky - in fact I even feel guily that I make so much more than they do. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to make 85K. I once made 70K when I was in Tokyo, but was run out of the office by a supervisor when I refused to make ethical compromises, and I have never made nearly that much since. I am divorced with no children.
You make 85K, are surrounded by people who make more than you do, and feel poor. I make 12K, am surrounded by people who make less than I do, and feel rich. I guess it all depends on who you're comparing yourself to. And I am not a failure, because what I do makes a difference (not only what I do at the office, but my blog as well). Neither are you a failure if you are refusing to sacrifice your ethics for the sake of a buck.
Ask yourself this: Is the 700K guy any HAPPIER than you are? And if you are unhappy, is it only because you're not making as much as those you compare yourself to?