Posted By: Alexis Ignatovich
No one likes being called sheep but everyone wants to be told what to do (without even knowing it!). Enter the world of mass marketing and product placement. I know, strong opening. You may be shaking your head at that statement saying “Not me, I hate being told what to do”. If you are one of those headstrong individuals where indecision is not a chronic problem or you’re impervious to mastermind marketing strategists, then I am personally envious of you. However, for those who aren’t, feel free to continue.
The inert biological instinct of being a “hunter” is within all of us. We are continually hunting for things, for possessions, for happiness. Growing up I always thought that being a happy adult was contained within a beautiful home, a family, designer clothing, a nice car, and all the things that money can buy, while having a large income with solid financial security, living a purposeful life. Since I was 14 years old and was able to earn a paycheck I have been working toward this “American Dream”. With every new want I was able to conquer came with a new improved version of want that I perceived as a need. Forever amassing MORE.
I truly believed that succeeding meant having all the finest and newest. And why not? We are reminded at every turn through TV, social media, print ads and every marketing outlet imaginable. I never needed to think about what I wanted, I was shown what to want and when to want it.
After 20 years on this journey to my American Dream I have conquered many of my hunting expeditions. A new car (which is now 10 years old), a place to call my own with a room to spare (filled with things I never look at), a new smartphone (about 3 months old and already outdated), a large amount of clothing (many pieces also quickly outdated). I also have credit card debt, not enough space to keep all my treasured spoils and still this desire for want. I have also been left continually working my butt off in the name of achievement and missing out on a social life, family time and self-growth that has not been dictated to me in one form or another.
Now, I am not saying that consumerism is bad or that wanting something is wrong. I believe that the day I stop wanting something is the day I stop trying and I never want to stop trying. What I am hoping you gain from this post is knowledge and possibly a new way of thinking.
As I have gotten older I find myself consistently reflecting on things in my past, looking for an answer as to why I sometimes feel as though something is missing, a void that needs to be filled. How could this be? I have all this cool stuff! It seems that really I am regretting moments that I have missed with people who are no longer here or money I wish I didn’t spend on a pair of Fendi sunglasses that I no longer wear (I can’t pinpoint when I decided they were hideous, but UGH). With these small realizations and a few others I decided that I needed to try something new. To live with intention.
Living with intention is something I am still working on. It is a lifestyle change, a mindset slightly altered from its usual groove. I understand that living a life of purpose does not necessarily mean pinpointing what my purpose is but finding it through its very synonym; intention. I intend of a life with personal meaning and through this intention I have begun clearing through my clutter. Understanding the differentiation between want and need. Opening myself up to experiences and interactions that I once may have said no to before. No longer showing love and affection through gifts and gadgets but memories and time.
I still have a long way to go but I will get there. I want it.
What do you want and how do you intend to get it?
“In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.” – American President Jimmy Carter 1979