Just like a majority of high school and college kids these days, I have spent my fair share of money on expensive clothes or shoes or accessories or electronics in order to fit in and "flex," as people now call it haha.
I thought they were making me happy and that was what I really enjoyed but it seemed that it was really never enough. I always wanted more and more and more, always telling myself that I would take a break after this next shirt or next pair of shoes. Until I found another pair of shoes or shirt I liked, then that was the last one and the cycle continued.
I always thought about "Oh if I had this I could show it off to my friends and people at school," thinking they actually cared as much as I thought they did. In reality, nobody really cares as much about what you are wearing, what you are driving or what things you have, it is just your perception that they do.
You can buy that third Gucci short, but really wat is that going to do for you? Sending that whole paycheck on a shirt that you think is going to make you happy, yet it never will.
Sure, maybe that first time you wear it you will be a little more happy, but that second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth time... you are not going to get as happy as you were the first time you wore it. That is called the law of diminishing returns, the more you are exposed to the stimulus, the less and less (in this case happy) it will make you compared to that first time you wore it.
Then what do you do? Buy another thing, hoping that this is the one that will finally make you happy and as you can probably guess, that one is not the one either and the cycle continues.
So, what should we really focus on then and what will really make us happy? Well, the short answer to that is meaningful time and experiences with the people that are most important to you. That can vary for each and every one of us though, as we all enjoy different types of experiences.
We all do have one thing in common though, those experiences that we share and take on are what leave us with lifelong stories, something that the Gucci shirt can't do.
How about we stop trying to find our happiness through items and impressing people that don't care about what you wear, have or drive, and start experiencing life.
I was very fortunate growing up that my parents worked their butts off to provide for me and my brother, giving us pretty much anything we needed or could ask for (within reason of course) and that means that I always had plenty of "things."
That being said, we were not walking around in Gucci or anything near that really, we were just comfortable and living in the upper half of the middle class I would say.
What I grew to assume, from all of these clothes and shoes, was that these things were what mattered, so as I started growing up, I wanted more and more things, as that was what was also getting attention early on in school. More shoes, more shirts, nicer jeans, the new iPhone, pretty much whatever I could think of.
That didn't stop when I got my first job either, even first few jobs as I progressed through high school and into college, as I was always spending a chunk of my paycheck on more shoes, more shirts and more whatever else it was that month.
I started to define myself through these items and they really were not bringing value to my life in any way, shape or form and I started realizing that early into college as I was exposed to kids with more or better "things" than I had. It took some good reflection to realize that these were not making me happy or bringing me any value really because I was defining my happiness based on what people thought of me.
I started to reflect on the stories I had, where I was enjoying life the most and what was making me happy, and guess what? Buying more things was never in those thoughts, the thoughts were always places I went with people I cared about or even things we did that ended up in great stories. In fact, buying more clothes actually was one of the lowest on the list of things that ACTUALLY MADE ME HAPPY, I realized as I really had nothing to define myself by (other than the opinions of others) and was ultimately trying to fill a void in my life through buying more things.
That's when I started to shift my direction.
The Opportunity to Do Amazing Things
As mentioned above, my parents have worked very hard to make sure me and my brother had a comfortable living growing up, and that included the supporting us to travel, both with and without them.
They really pushed us going to see and experience everything we could, even if they didn't come with, and realized that that was what was going to give us the best experiences in life. Early on, we traveled just around the country until we were older and could remember the vacations better. Then, we slowly started progressing to countries like Mexico and the Dominican and even a trip to Europe with my mom and grandma as well as a road trip in Iceland with my dad!
These are the things that helped shape the initial experiences in my life that made me realize I was enjoying those much more than just buying more things for myself. That is when I started to save my money, from both my job and my side hustle (that you can learn about by clicking this link >>) and took trips of my own, with my friends as well as a few solo trips.
So far, I have been to 11-12 countries and hopefully 14 by the end of this year, and am constantly looking for that next trip, or even next experience (it doesn't have to be a huge trip) that me and my friends can take on.
What fun is another trip to the same mall you go to every month, to buy clothes that will just sit around forever, when you could be out doing things like white water rafting, backpacking Europe, road tripping and visiting Africa with the same money.
In all honesty, nobody really cares about your life as much as you do, so why are you focused solely on buying things to impress other people when you could be out experiencing life and creating stories that others actually get excited to hear?
I haven't bought new clothes in months, and I have too many clothes that I never even wear in my closet, it has been a dramatic change from buying 5-8 pairs of shoes a year and spending hundreds at the mall each month. Everyone is likely to go through this period, so not knocking you if you are (as I did the same thing), just suggesting that you realize if that is really making you happy or if you are just trying to impress other people.
What I Realized Really Matters
YOU are what really matters, doing what you really enjoy and not trying to base your whole life on the perceptions of what other people think of you.
Side story: I really started to take to heart the sentence I just stated when my girlfriend broke up with me this past year and I was looking at what went wrong and what I can learn from the relationship. I realized that during my relationship, and every relationship prior to that, I would essentially devote my life to that relationship and what they thought of me.
I wouldn't partake in hobbies with my friends as much as I used to, or sometimes even at all, and would focus all of my attention on talking to them literally all day. They turned into my identity and source of happiness, and then when they left, I was lost and dove into depression.
I started to reflect on this and realized I had always been doing things for other people, to try to impress other people or to "fit in" with other people and that really didn't make me happy, and likely can't make anyone happy.
To me, when I started to dive into what was really making me happy, it was all the experiences and stories that I had with people, not the things I was buying. This is something that you have to ask yourself, and really think about it, are those things really making you happy?
Look long term, maybe you are happy temporarily after you buy more things, but the happiness from experiences last much longer and the stories last a life time.
Dive into why you are really buying so many clothes, shoes, electronics, etc. every month and you might be surprised what you find, I know I was...
The ultimate goal here is to live a great story, one we are proud to share near the end of our lives that is full of memories and experiences. Your story to your grand kids is probably not going to be about "all of the sweet clothes I had when I was 20..."
Think about it, I would love to hear your comments below.
And P.S. if you enjoyed the blog at all, I would love to give you a free guide to learn how to start experiencing more of life! Just click on this link to download it >>
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