I don’t remember the last time that I had so few material possessions while feeling this full and happy inside. I honestly don’t have one expensive item to my name and that’s ok. Surprisingly, I don’t feel any less or any different. I valued these things so much that, for an instant, I thought I would feel differently without them; empty. Not having these material things have made what was obvious to others, and even clearer to me, that material things don’t make you truly happy; they don’t add more value to who you are as a person. These material possessions do not define you. What they really are a collection of images. Through them, we are able to hide our insecurities and flaws. They help us develop an alter ego; the untouchable versions of ourselves; who we wish we were. I don’t even want to get into how I came to realize that these material things are actually part of a larger distraction which causes our thinking to become distorted. I can take this a step further and touch upon how this type of thinking traps us into the life of a consumer rather than as an investor (keeping stuck in the middle class!)
I’m learning every day and that’s what life is really about. After my Saddle Brook, NJ home was burglarized, I have questioned many of my past decisions, mistakes and concluded to what might be the core problem. Since I didn’t have social media (Instagram & Snapchat got hacked back in early 2018) I had an absurd amount of time on my hands, which has led me to self-analyze my life from all angles (about time). I have done a lot of deep thinking, not only about my life, but also with everyone around me. I have had the opportunity to analyze everyone that has been a part of my life and who has impacted me over the past few years. Today’s thought is…
Can we possibly feel happier with having less? Who do we live for?
When Everything, means Nothing…
It had been two months since I had my collection of name brand bags, shoes, coats and clothing; half of me, so I thought, stolen from me. It’s amazing to see myself with absolutely nothing compared to what I used to have and yet feel extremely happy; genuinely happy inside. I want to believe that the burglary didn’t destroy me because I’m not the Marcel that I used to be. I simply have not let it. I have so much more now than what I had had then.
Since it happened, I have tried to see this as a growing and educational experience, rather than as a negative one. I have to thank Zack and his parents for that. I can’t deny that having their support and influence has helped me shift this whole thing around. I know the burglary would have been twice as hard on me without them. I thought that after a couple of months, my perspective and outlook would change back. I don’t know why, but in my crazy mind I envisioned myself crying miserably over and over these material things that had taken me years to collect. I also thought that I would start to resent the person who did this. To my surprise, things haven’t really changed. I feel lucky to have been removed from any negative energy that I was being exposed to and to have had the chance to start fresh. I look at life different now, how couldn’t I?? There were definitely many lessons to be learned. I feel that I’ve taken a step back into the right direction. You will be surprised how a drastic situation can bring you to do a little bit of the soul searching that you been neglecting to do for years.
I have had associates and friends tell me about a “feeling” that I had been experiencing myself and was previously unaware of it. However, after being without social media for a few months I wanted to understand what this feeling was and what was that I was actually going through. Of course, both situations being completely different. I have had sources referred to this feeling that they felt as “retiring” from their so-called “lifestyle” on their social networks. The same lifestyle that our generation lives in and which most crave.
Believe it or not, there was a time where I didn’t know much about name brands, designers or even when fashion week was. The question, “who introduced them to me?” now presents itself. My two friends that we will refer to as: Kim and Khloe for the sake of their privacy. They had “it”, wore “it” and I didn’t (yet). I wasn’t friends with them at this time. I was just their stalkers on social media. Why did I start to follow them? Their lives were much more interesting than mine at the beginning. I think at some point in our lives we can all relate? Of course I knew about the normal name brands that our mothers would wear. My mom introduced me to the ones she could afford; #Coach, #Dooney&Bourke, #Guess, #NineWest, #ToryBurch, #RebeccaMinkoff and the list goes on. My friend Kim and Khloe wore other name brands that, if I’m completely honest, that I had never heard of before. I’m sure I must have seen them in commercials, magazines and on celebrities. Until I started associating myself with Khloe and stocking Kim, I really didn’t put it all together. When #Instagram first came to be, things were completely different than what they are today. Let’s think about how oblivious we all were to certain things years before the internet and Instagram exploded. Instagram, and especially internet as a whole, exposed us to many new things. In today’s world, we see everything and everyone living their best life on social media. Back then, you didn’t. Kim and Khloe both were. Kim lifestyle, closet, and body were on another level. She was one of the first Dominican girls that became Instagram famous from NYC/NJ. I like to give credit when credit is due; Kim was one of the first ones “popping on the Gram”. I can honestly say that she influenced many other girls like me to want to be like her, look like her and to want to have what she had. I’m sure she was unaware of the power she had through social media back then and how she had us questioning our 9-5 jobs. To those on the outside; she looked as though she was living the dream life. She looked the part, was hustling and getting it; making thousands of dollars per night (I had a 9-5 back then, it sucked). She had the closet that any girl from the heights had always dreamed of having. She was traveling the world, had a luxury car, she embodied sexiness, confidence, appeal and seemed to be financially independent. She was living her life. For many of us who had a boyfriend and weren’t making it, we were living through her. Seeing her from the outside in, I asked myself, who wouldn’t want that life? It’s easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side, when you aren’t living it yourself and when you aren’t seeing both sides of the coin. Everyone has their moment; that was theirs to live and enjoy to the max. They both lived it as they were supposed to. If you’re still waiting for your time to come, don’t feel down; yours will too. Your time will come just like mine did when I had least expected!
Other things, not the ones previously mentioned by me, might give you the same satisfaction that they gave me. What I can say is that whatever it is that you are craving for and working towards, you might see others enjoying; whatever it is, your turn will come too. I believe everyone should enjoy their “now” as miserable as it might be. Why? It will help you to enjoy those highs when they come along; they will be as high as you had ever imagined them to be.
Years later, I had further developed a relationship with Kim and Khloe. I got to know them personally a little more. Kim’s life has changed with time and so did her priorities. She gave birth to her biggest blessing of all, her baby North. She has a beautiful family! I remember catching up with Kim and her telling me about growing up and finding happiness in the simple things in life. I remember thinking, “I guess, we all go through it, just in different shapes and forms. She stated, “I remember how I used to buy designers shoes and immediately take a picture with them with my legs crossed then instantly uploading it on Instagram”. She laughed about how times have change and how now she enjoys privacy and likes to keep certain things to herself and love ones. She went on saying “No one needs to know when I get new shoes, it brings unnecessary hate and bad energy into your life, …people hate to see you doing well” “I used to be just like you, I shared everything, you can’t Marcel” “you are sharing too much” And I couldn’t agree more. Something inside of me said YES, and it clicked. Social media is a great way to communicate and keep in touch with people; especially when you don’t want to call or text all the time(lol). It’s honestly the perfect way to keep up with people at a distance. The downside to is if you have decided to have your account public; your life its public to EVERYONE! It’s open to those that are here for you and are cheering for whatever you have going on. It’s also opens you up for criticism and hate from people that don’t even know who you are. It’s extremely easy to create an image of someone based on their social media uploads. People fail to consider the fact that YOU have chosen to share those specific moments. Your life actually consists of many more. Let’s talk about people, like me, who are considered to be a public figure in their community; forget about it. You are being talked about while you sleep. You are being analyzed, broken down into pieces, and then stepped on. The internet has allowed anyone with the ability to type, (not even knowing how to spell) to be tough, cruel and insensitive to other people’s life choices. People forget that we are all humans with feelings and a free will to live and do as we please. Rumors are started and people are very quick to judge your life and make their own conclusions and assumptions; which is unfair. I wonder when it became ok to judge a book by its cover. Have we always judged people by their covers? Isn’t Instagram and any other type of social media a cover? Do we really show who we truly are outside of social media? Does social media allow us to be ourselves, or do we portray what is expected of us? Is the judgment and validation more important to us than living?
When speaking to Kim that day, we couldn’t come up with words to describe “the feeling” she felt after retiring from the so-called “lifestyle”. By retiring; I mean having different priorities in life and understanding the power of social media. I think the upside of it all is that it’s today that we can learn from other people’s journeys and struggles through social media. I’m grateful to have been able to see both Khloe and Kim journey and grow. Both of them went through a lot, like many of us have, because of social media. Being popular comes with a price and most of us have paid it. Most of us have managed to focus on the good things that social media has to offer. We have even learned to benefit from it economically. All of these experiences and things that most of us have been exposed to because of social media have made us grow. At times, it has even made us take a step back, into the right direction. Today, I consider myself to be a matured woman who focuses on the real things; the things that matter in life and more importantly the things that do not necessarily have a price tag. We can agree that the feeling in which I was being exposed to, after months without social media, was the feeling of “freedom”.
After being able to get all of my hacked accounts back (yay! Zack was not happy) I have drawn a line between social media and my personal life that cannot be crossed. Several times I have found myself at the point where I have felt obligated to keep up with an image that I had created. I’m not sure where the assumptions came from. I also tend to feel a huge responsibility to succeed in which I create an absurd amount of pressure for myself. I also believe we draw up these standards in our head without any knowledge of it. I personally don’t like to give it too much thought because it’s scary to analyze the times that we are living in and how materialistic and shallow our world has become. I believe the only reason that we care about these materialistic things is because it makes us acceptable in the social circles that we want to be a part of. We lose track, we tend to get lost and consumed by what half of the world considers to be important. It’s a cover up; the life we choose to show others. We lose sense of reality and ourselves. I also believe it fills a void some of us may be dealing with. However, life changing situations, like the ones that I had experienced, are the ones that snap us back to reality and make us see what really matters in life. Sometimes, bad situations are destined to happen and that’s where we learn how to find our place.
The answer is, Yes! You can feel happier with having less!