As much as I hate to admit it, I am addicted to spending money. I get an adrenaline rush from the exchange of bills, the swipe of a card. That being said, I don't define myself or others by the number of things they are able to buy. I know what it is like to struggle financially, and I know that I do not need material things to be happy. I know that self-fulfillment is abstract, that it is not something I can hold in my hand. Every time I buy something, after that initial satisfaction, I feel guilty. I feel as though I am giving in, forfeiting a part of myself. I hate myself for it, for not being able to rise above the temptation. I could be doing something better with my time and my money. I could be experiencing. I could be living. I could be doing more.
But at the same time, the materialism I see in society astounds me. I have never been and I never will be the person who has to buy the newest version of everything merely for the sake of owning something fancy and expensive. Many people feel the need to buy the newest, most expensive phone they can find, as if that really matters. Does having the newest, most expensive phone make one somehow more worthy than someone who uses a $20 flip-phone? No. It doesn't. But people who use $20 flip-phones are judged, and people speculate about their financial situations. Oh, they don't have a very nice phone. They must not have the money. That's sad. I can't imagine life without my smart phone! I don't understand how people can live like this every day and not question the insanity of it. I never had a smart phone until after I graduated high school, got a full-time summer job, and bought one with my own money. It was only $60, but it's the nicest phone I have ever owned. Life with a smart phone has not made me realize how awful it was to live without one before; if anything, it has made realize how a material possession has the power to become toxic if we allow it to. I have become one of those people who cannot put their phone down, even though I have been fully capable of unplugging completely and for hours at a time in the past. I've changed for worse, and I wish I could bring myself back in time. And I don't think the fact that my smart phone was relatively cheap makes any difference in who I am, and I don't think it should make any difference in how others perceive me. If we define ourselves by how many material possessions we have and how expensive they are, then we will never be satisfied. Our hunger will only be satiated briefly, until the next thing comes out that we just have to have.
I am aware that I may sound a bit hypocritical here. That's because I know materialism is pointless and detrimental, but I just can't pull myself out of it. I struggle with it every time I go somewhere. I see something I want, and I know I don't need it, but often the desire is too strong. And the thing is, I really don't have the money to buy things I don't need. I can't be frivolous with my money. I have to be better than this. And I know I am capable of achieving this, if only I tried a little harder.
We live in a world where success is measured by the accumulation of things. And so we think we have to buy more things, buy expensive things, buy things until we can't recognize ourselves anymore. But do material possessions really matter, in the end? When we spend our money on arbitrary things, are we really achieving anything significant? Do yourself a favor and leave your money at home. Wake up and really see the world. I hope some day I am able to take my own advice as well.