Happiness

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wehman
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Happiness

Postby wehman » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:40 am

The depression rate for lawyers is startling. Are lawyers happy? Are all of you on this website in love with the idea of being financially secure and respected in society because of your title or are you certain that you want to be a lawyer? If you are certain and you are an UG, explain to me the process of realization you went through, please.

Going to law school seems terribly practical for a student succeeding and excelling at my public university as well as I am majoring in Philosophy and Religious Studies; however, I am much more concerned with the state of my happiness for the rest of my life.

Especially since the two areas of law that appeal to me, from what I hear from current lawyers, are impossible to get into (entertainment law or international law).

Thoughts on this?

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pamcasso
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Re: Happiness

Postby pamcasso » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:48 am

wehman wrote:The depression rate for lawyers is startling. Are lawyers happy? Are all of you on this website in love with the idea of being financially secure and respected in society because of your title or are you certain that you want to be a lawyer? If you are certain and you are an UG, explain to me the process of realization you went through, please.

Going to law school seems terribly practical for a student succeeding and excelling at my public university as well as I am majoring in Philosophy and Religious Studies; however, I am much more concerned with the state of my happiness for the rest of my life.

Especially since the two areas of law that appeal to me, from what I hear from current lawyers, are impossible to get into (entertainment law or international law).

Thoughts on this?


i've known for a long time that i wanted to go to law school, but after hearing all of the doom-and-gloom about it i spent a summer trying to talk myself out of it. but in the end i figured that i only live once, and i knew that i would regret not going to law school. so regardless of debt and questionable career prospects, i know going to law school is something i want to do. in regards to the happiness question, ive had the same concerns as you. but i figure that i wouldnt be so pulled to something that wouldnt bring me happiness in some way. im also lucky though because ive gotten good at keeping my happiness separate from outside circumstances. so, to stop rambling, i think that if you are grounded and know what matters to you in life, you'll be able to keep stresses from any profession from eating away at your happiness/sanity.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Happiness

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:51 am

I'm currently a 1L. I've had episodes of depression before coming to law school, I still have them here, and I'll continue to have them as a lawyer. It's just a part of my life. They're not debilitating, but they're there.

I wonder how much of lawyer unhappiness comes from being the kind of people that self-select into becoming lawyers. I mean, people who can flip burgers for a living and be happy anyway are staying put, it's the people who aren't happy with their life that keep going forward.

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windycity
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Re: Happiness

Postby windycity » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:10 am

.
Last edited by windycity on Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Happiness

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:11 am

windycity wrote:how about people who are happy with their life (ie satisfied with current job)

They typically stay in their current job.

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englawyer
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Re: Happiness

Postby englawyer » Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:04 am

windycity wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:

...it's the people who aren't happy with their life that keep going forward.


how about people who are happy with their life (ie satisfied with current job), but go forward because they want to maximize their full potential? ...is that just naivete?


if you have a drive to maximize your full potential, you are not satisfied with your current job. that is the kind of "satisfaction" that you justify with thoughts like "well others are worse off", "i'm not starving", "i didn't really WANT that promotion anyway" etc.

the only people that are happy in that kind of job are those that don't really care about maximizing their potential, and you could very well be one of those people. if you are, good for you because you will certainly be happier in the end

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BigFatPanda
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Re: Happiness

Postby BigFatPanda » Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:38 am

wehman wrote:respected in society because of your title or are you certain that you want to be a lawyer? If you are certain and you are an UG, explain to me the process of realization you went through, please.


:shock:
Lawyers are respected?
:mrgreen:

It appears you're having a quarter life crisis: i suggest you buy yourself a customized factory order Mustang and cruise around America picking up random chicks over the summer.

This really is a subjective question you've to ask yourself. What do u want to do with your life and what makes you happy? A lot of people on this board appears to define happiness as something like: a job at bigLaw working 80 hrs/week but getting paid 160k + 20k-40k bonus fresh out of a Top 10 law school. As shallow as it sounds, however, they are being pragmatic. In the real world, idealism will get you nothing and people will just flush your eagerness (naiveness) down the toilet the first chance they got. Further, you can't argue with those who made partner and living in a oversized mansion while having a wife who look like Jessica Alba or Megan Fox when they themselves look like Moe Szyslak.

For me, the choice is very personal: to complete the dream of my maternal grandfather. He was an attorney in China before 1949, when the Communist established the current ruling dynasty. Unfortunately for him, attorneys were defined as class enemies of the people who defends criminals and gangsters during the anti-rightist movement and the cultural revolution. As a result, his life was literally ruined and his education rendered meaningless (As a sidenote, the Communist Party currently ruling China are nothing like its former self. The transformation parallels the ideological and demographical swap of Democratic Party an Republican Party during the Civil Rights Movement). Thus, it is up to me to fulfill his incomplete legacy and this will make me very happy.

Of course, i am also pragmatic. Even if i don't obtain the dream gig i wish from the US Army, however, i am perfectly happy with my current employer where a JD opens a lot of doors career wise. Lastly, given my background and my goals as a civil servant, i don't need to go to a top 10 school. Just a school with a decent reputation that i can afford. (And my dream wife does not have to look like Jessica Alba or Megan Fox because i am too cheap to afford plastic surgery)

So personally, a JD is a win/win for me.

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Borhas
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Re: Happiness

Postby Borhas » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:45 pm

my thoughts on happiness:

1. fulfill my working role in society. This means I find something that I am good at compared to others and to make that my career.

2. find work that i can be passionate about.

3. Have a balanced life, that means fulfilling other roles besides my working role.

I hope to channel my passion of hating on douchebags into a career as a prosecutor. Turns out you have to go to law school for that... and so here I am.



Also the status thing confuses me a bit. Nobody likes lawyers, much less respects them... and people especially don't give a shit about which LS you went to (unless they are trying to hire you, which is a relatively rare event in life). Lawyers also don't make much money, it's a profession, that means middle class. People chase status and money, but I don't think they realize how illusory those goals are.

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jks289
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Re: Happiness

Postby jks289 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:53 pm

I am happy doing things I am good at. And I know I will be a good lawyer. I want to become a prosecutor, don't care so much about money or status so this economy scares me less. I need a job that challenges me intellectually and lets me sleep at night. Besides, no matter how much I loved or liked my job the best part of my day will always be coming home to my family.

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englawyer
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Re: Happiness

Postby englawyer » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:57 pm

i dont think that lawyer=middle class. i think lawyer=guaranteed upper middle class, with a shot at upper class.

if you make partner of a large firm, pull in over one million per year, and serve on the board of directors of some major companies, i think you are safely upper class.

if you make it into biglaw, your starting salary is 160k/yr. that is already upper middle class, and you will go up for a while and then possibly exit into something that makes similar money for less hours (like in-house counsel).

middle class in my mind is really professions like teaching, nursing, and engineering where you will most likely cap out in the low 100's.

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Borhas
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Re: Happiness

Postby Borhas » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:53 pm

englawyer wrote:i dont think that lawyer=middle class. i think lawyer=guaranteed upper middle class, with a shot at upper class.

if you make partner of a large firm, pull in over one million per year, and serve on the board of directors of some major companies, i think you are safely upper class.

if you make it into biglaw, your starting salary is 160k/yr. that is already upper middle class, and you will go up for a while and then possibly exit into something that makes similar money for less hours (like in-house counsel).

middle class in my mind is really professions like teaching, nursing, and engineering where you will most likely cap out in the low 100's.


Those are all Big if's
The second if is what top 50% of T-14's Top 25% of T-30 Top 15-20% of the rest of T1
out of those people that even make it into Big Law which of them makes partner, or better yet, which of them makes equity partner? 1%?
Those are terrible odds. You have a better chance of making that much money as a plumber or a carpenter, or some sort of other small business trade.

160k/year in a city like NY/DC/SF might be "upper" middle class, but the difference in lifestyle of an "upper to middle class" person in those cities is not significantly more prosperous than middle class anywhere else. There's a certain amount of money that will get you a nice car, a nice house, in a nice place, you can earn several tens of thousands more and you live in a marginally nicer house, maybe a couple Lexus' instead of a Camry, maybe a two story house in a more posh neighborhood versus the one story ranch. But those differences aren't that big. You're going to need a hell of a lot more money to have access to different catagories of things instead of just a nicer version of the same thing. You won't get a summer house, or a yacht, or get to travel for weeks at a time as somebody in the upper middle class.

bmtripp
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Re: Happiness

Postby bmtripp » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:01 pm

englawyer wrote:i dont think that lawyer=middle class. i think lawyer=guaranteed upper middle class, with a shot at upper class.

if you make partner of a large firm, pull in over one million per year, and serve on the board of directors of some major companies, i think you are safely upper class.

if you make it into biglaw, your starting salary is 160k/yr. that is already upper middle class, and you will go up for a while and then possibly exit into something that makes similar money for less hours (like in-house counsel).

middle class in my mind is really professions like teaching, nursing, and engineering where you will most likely cap out in the low 100's.



Don't forget that biglaw will be 160K a year working what basically amounts to the hours of two jobs. But, if law is all there is in life for you, then I suppose it would be worth it.

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JazzOne
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Re: Happiness

Postby JazzOne » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:08 pm

bmtripp wrote:
englawyer wrote:i dont think that lawyer=middle class. i think lawyer=guaranteed upper middle class, with a shot at upper class.

if you make partner of a large firm, pull in over one million per year, and serve on the board of directors of some major companies, i think you are safely upper class.

if you make it into biglaw, your starting salary is 160k/yr. that is already upper middle class, and you will go up for a while and then possibly exit into something that makes similar money for less hours (like in-house counsel).

middle class in my mind is really professions like teaching, nursing, and engineering where you will most likely cap out in the low 100's.



Don't forget that biglaw will be 160K a year working what basically amounts to the hours of two jobs. But, if law is all there is in life for you, then I suppose it would be worth it.

It sure beats working two jobs for $60K.

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englawyer
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Re: Happiness

Postby englawyer » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:31 pm

i am assuming biglaw in my post, which is the goal of many people on this site. for the purposes of my analysis (and perhaps others), i am assuming i will be able to get a biglaw job after graduation.

the difference isn't in what you can or can't own. in terms of money, i believe you stop becoming "more happy" around 60k or something like that. instead, the difference is in power, status, and access to the top echelons of society.

a biglaw attorney in a prominent law firm has an admittedly small chance at making partner (I never said it was a good chance, just a chance), but he/she will also rub elbows with prominent business people, investors, bankers, etc. it is possible to leverage those connections into a high-powered position down the line. getting to the top is about building the "right" social networks, and attorneys have the opportunity to do so, far more than teachers and whatnot.

whether or not "making it to the top" is important to you is a very personal decision, but i think becoming an attorney is one of the best ways to do so if it is your goal.

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Knock
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Re: Happiness

Postby Knock » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:41 pm

wehman wrote:The depression rate for lawyers is startling. Are lawyers happy? Are all of you on this website in love with the idea of being financially secure and respected in society because of your title or are you certain that you want to be a lawyer? If you are certain and you are an UG, explain to me the process of realization you went through, please.

Going to law school seems terribly practical for a student succeeding and excelling at my public university as well as I am majoring in Philosophy and Religious Studies; however, I am much more concerned with the state of my happiness for the rest of my life.

Especially since the two areas of law that appeal to me, from what I hear from current lawyers, are impossible to get into (entertainment law or international law).

Thoughts on this?


Junior in UG at the momeny...

1) I don't want to be doing physical labor for the rest of my life (sure it'd be fine for a while but i'm sure as I get older the aches and pains would take a toll on my quality of life.)
2) I want a job where i'll be intellectually challenged/stimulated. no assembly line jobs for me, or cashiers, etc.
3) I want to never have to worry about money. want to be able to send my kids to college, not live paycheck to paycheck, etc
4) want to be a professional
5) has to be a job that I can get into looking forward (ie, not having to go back and get a biology degree and learn science for MD, or math for engineering, doesn't require great softs or work experience

Basically, lawyer is the best possible path for me based on what i've done so far. I chose to major in Communications, not knowing what I wanted to do. This just so happened to make sure I got a good GPA, which is one of the 2 most important things for law school. I'm good at standardized tests, especially ones that don't require math, so the LSAT/GPA of law school applications favors me. And add in that i'm URM, well it just makes the most sense to go to law school.

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observationalist
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Re: Happiness

Postby observationalist » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:57 pm

For why biglaw lawyers and many graduates of top law schools are unhappy, See J. Schiltz, "On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession" --LinkRemoved-- We were talking about this article again in PR a few weeks ago, and you could see it yourself in law school. It over-simplifies the matter but I think it's a good jumping off point.

My take on the larger issue of why attorneys as a whole are unhappy: far too many people choose to attend law school in part because they over-estimate their chances of doing well in the hyper-competitive legal profession. They do this because they have always done well in their previous schooling/professions, and they think they are capable of continuing to do so. Unfortunately law school curves and legal hiring requirements prohibit the majority of these overachievers from doing well out of the gate. So the first big hit comes when 1L grades come out, when many overachievers are first faced with failure: those who are not prepared for the worst and end up with anything but the best are going to respond to that hit poorly. The second hit comes in the job hunt while in law school, where your 1L grades dictate your job opportunities to a far larger extent than anything else you have accomplished in your life. This is when many of the country's future lawyers first realize some of their goals are now unattainable. For people who chose to go to a law school that advertised inflated job prospects by hiding underperformers and otherwise misrepresenting stats, this second hit can be really bad because they feel cheated. The third hit comes when the safety net of still being in grad school disappears after graduation, and grads are faced with debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, no matter how poor the general job prospects and their individual job prospects are from their law school. The realities of lifelong debt provide an additional kick to the tens of thousands of new attorneys each year, and additional pressures to take the job that pays the most rather than the job that is the most desirable.

Obviously, the trajectory is different for those who do well in law school and who get the job they wanted, which is where Shiltz (HLS grad) focuses most of his discussion. For this minority, however, there are other risks. The nature of law school/firm ascension paths as a series of neverending games can create a lifelong obsession with winning that overshadows other pursuits (like the pursuit of happiness). This is why equity partners still report high rates of depression, drug abuse, and suicide; despite their ability to do extremely well in all the games they've faced, they still compare themselves to others at their level. I doubt any incoming law student would think it was worth arguing over a $10,000 difference in partner salaries and bonuses when the base level is so far above what people need to live comfortably, but it happens.

The goal as I see it (regardless of which trajectory you find yourself on) is to make sure that you are willing to accept all of the disappointments you may face before you choose to go to law school, and then stay committed once you're in law school (and afterwards) to truly exploring only the career paths that make you happy. For many with a public interest bent, LRAP and IBR programs make that possible (though again, many will play the game and very few will end up with a desirable PI job straight from law school). Some schools are starting to make imporvements to LRAP and to other programs designed to keep people from falling into traps, but many scholars argue that we'd really need a huge shift in legal education before we could start seeing significant reductions in the number of attorneys who are unhappy with their decisions/debts/careers/lives. For us, improving law school transparency in employment reporting is a (small) start in the right direction.

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Borhas
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Re: Happiness

Postby Borhas » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:27 pm

RE: Observationalist's post, I read that article a while back. It was one of the most insightful things that I've read here. Good stuff.

englawyer wrote:i am assuming biglaw in my post, which is the goal of many people on this site. for the purposes of my analysis (and perhaps others), i am assuming i will be able to get a biglaw job after graduation.

the difference isn't in what you can or can't own. in terms of money, i believe you stop becoming "more happy" around 60k or something like that. instead, the difference is in power, status, and access to the top echelons of society.

a biglaw attorney in a prominent law firm has an admittedly small chance at making partner (I never said it was a good chance, just a chance), but he/she will also rub elbows with prominent business people, investors, bankers, etc. it is possible to leverage those connections into a high-powered position down the line. getting to the top is about building the "right" social networks, and attorneys have the opportunity to do so, far more than teachers and whatnot.

whether or not "making it to the top" is important to you is a very personal decision, but i think becoming an attorney is one of the best ways to do so if it is your goal.


first, forgive me if I appeared to disparage people's hopes of Big Law, I have a tendency to belittle paths and roles that don't suit me, that's a flaw I'm working on. With that said, I can see how those aiming at power (and the status that accompanies it) view a legal career as the best way towards that path. But, there are so few that attain that within the profession that I think my interpretation of middle class profession still makes the most sense. The VAST majority of us (and even the majority of us that go to Top/Really Top/REALLY REALLY TOP schools will still end up in the middle class. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

wehman
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Re: Happiness

Postby wehman » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:55 am

I understand the general consensus on this website, hence the title of it, is that everyone wants to get into the best possible law school. However, I was curious if anyone knew of any research or any empirical data showing that regional schools which may produce less stress oriented environments for their students during law school and after law school are indeed happier?

Any correlation with the field that lawyers are in and that "surprise" factor that it isn't what they really wanted to do and lead to unhappiness? Level of happiness with the lawyers who pursue academia, the state department, or non profit organizations?

Any of your guesses or hypotheses for the discussion would be appreciated. I'm curious on everyone else's thoughts.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Happiness

Postby vanwinkle » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:57 am

Borhas wrote:The VAST majority of us (and even the majority of us that go to Top/Really Top/REALLY REALLY TOP schools will still end up in the middle class. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Except that 100% of us are hoping to achieve more than just some ordinary middle class life. Law school is like a lottery with shitty odds and a really high ticket price.

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gochrisgo
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Re: Happiness

Postby gochrisgo » Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:05 am

_
Last edited by gochrisgo on Fri Feb 19, 2010 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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chooch
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Re: Happiness

Postby chooch » Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:54 pm

jks289 wrote:I am happy doing things I am good at. And I know I will be a good lawyer. I want to become a prosecutor, don't care so much about money or status so this economy scares me less. I need a job that challenges me intellectually and lets me sleep at night. Besides, no matter how much I loved or liked my job the best part of my day will always be coming home to my family.


this. i share some of the OP's sentiment about how the rigors of law school and uncertain prospects of a future career can render someone to feel helpless and depressed. but you should be asking yourself, why do you want to go to law school? if you wan't to go because it helps create an identity, brings you a sense of self and belonging, and brings meaning into your life, then go for it. don't get discouraged, the journey will never be linear, but always stay positive and be thankful for the opportunity for an awesome education and experience.

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SpaceDawg
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Re: Happiness

Postby SpaceDawg » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:03 pm

Nightrunner wrote:is a warm gun



Nice.

I used to be a social worker. Talk about an unhappy alcoholic bunch. Being a lawyer should be a piece of cake compared to removing kids from their homes and convincing juvenile drug dealers that it's better for them to work at McDonald's then sell drugs.

APimpNamedSlickback
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Re: Happiness

Postby APimpNamedSlickback » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:10 pm

is a myth. get rich or die tryin'.

eudaimondaimon
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Re: Happiness

Postby eudaimondaimon » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:03 pm

SpaceDawg wrote:
Nightrunner wrote:is a warm gun

Being a lawyer should be a piece of cake compared to removing kids from their homes and convincing juvenile drug dealers that it's better for them to work at McDonald's then sell drugs.

It's not nice to lie to children.

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Borhas
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Re: Happiness

Postby Borhas » Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:32 pm

jks289 wrote:I am happy doing things I am good at. And I know I will be a good lawyer. I want to become a prosecutor, don't care so much about money or status so this economy scares me less. I need a job that challenges me intellectually and lets me sleep at night. Besides, no matter how much I loved or liked my job the best part of my day will always be coming home to my family.


you are approaching Baller-Status




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