I am a 28-year-old male and currently earn A$58,000 working in the Department of Health in Australia. Many of the people who graduated university with me are earning much more than me, some are earning $70k, others $85k. The receptionist who works with me earns my salary, but the difference between her and me is that I spent six years in university amassing student debt while she was working and paying off a mortgage (she now owns half a house while I do not).
Furthermore, I don't feel like I am advancing in my career. I applied for a promotion but failed. I am feeling extreme status anxiety (I have been reading Alain de Botton, by the way). People at work don't outright bully me, but they either pity me or try to give me career advice in a condescending way. Friends I meet with say things like, "Are you still working in that same job?" All this passive bullying is taking its toll on me. Lately I've been feeling really anxious and almost suicidal. I've suddenly become a communist, wishing that the rich were taxed more, not because I want government revenue to increase but because I am envious and jealous of the rich.
When I talk about this idea to others, they put me down, saying that my condition is trivial. I completely understand their arguments when they tell me that the majority of the world's population lives on less than US$1 per day and that the vast majority of people in the world would kill to be in my shoes with my job and my pay. I understand that, but nevertheless I live and work around people who are paid more than me, and they look down on me and they bully me.
Some people suggest I need to try harder to get a promotion. I am currently trying my hardest, but sometimes I wonder whether that will solve the problem. I know I am not suppose to care what others think of me. But I do. I think we all do. I wouldn't walk around the city wearing a garbage bag because of the shame and embarrassment. I would love to live in a world where nobody judges you according to your monetary success or your physical appearance, and I would love to be immune to the judgment of others, but when I am abnormal in a crowd of normal people, feeling insecure, anxious, embarrassed, and ashamed is an involuntary response.
I went on a holiday to India a few months ago and marveled at how low the cost of living was. I was able to stay at a nice guesthouse for US$10 and eat a meal for US$1. This means that if we assume three meals a day then it equates to $4745 per year in living costs. If we assume that a bank savings account were to give 5% interest then I would need to save up $94,900 to be able to be able to live in India off the interest from my savings (of course I'd want to save up more than that to produce a safety buffer in the event of overspending or inflation). The thought of getting away from everything appeals to me. I would say goodbye to my old friends and go to a new place to start again, meet new friends, maybe even find a future spouse in a new land.
Do you feel the same way? Do you suffer from status anxiety? If so, how do you deal with it? Is there any cure for status anxiety or is it just an unfortunately reality of capitalism?