You gotta ask yourself: what do you want?
If you want to make money, academia is a shitty place to do it. If you want to explore the boundaries of knowledge and inspire new generations of inquiring minds, stay away from brokerage firms.
You also gotta realize that when you level up the game gets harder. Things were easier when you were a grad student on a stipend. Okay, but now you have a car. Now you have an IRA. Now you have a quest path. Of course the game is aggravating you got through one boss battle, you sat through the cut screen and now you've got a bunch of sidequests in order to get one marginally better sword.
The guys who graduate from my CNC program are looking at 65K a year without overtime. It's a 2-year degree. That's pretty awesome. But they're looking at a future of making parts for somebody else. I'm not even going to get a degree out of that program - I will finish unqualified for that 65k a year job. But I'm putting my time towards what I want to do - I already have the degree that makes me qualified to be their boss right fucking now and I turned my back on that career eighteen flippin' years ago.
Got a buddy. Worked for Go2Net. 2000 was not great for him. But he cashed out all his chips and went to helicopter school. If he'd stuck around in the hardscrabble dotcom world that was left after the collapse of the NASDAQ, he'd probably be a director at Microsoft by now. Instead he's gonna spend the summer dropping retardant on forest fires.
What do you want? The trick to keeping up with the Joneses is picking the right Joneses. I determined long ago that I effectively have no peers. It was liberating AF. I still fall into a rut sometimes but I've been able to push the world in the right direction enough that I mostly get to do what I want. It helps that "what I want" no longer includes "write big-budget sci fi movies" or "play Glastonbury." And when buddies of mine get written up in Variety it still causes that twinge... but their lives suck. Mine doesn't.