Together with a culture of work, there must be a culture of leisure as gratification. To put it another way: people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport.
– Pope Francis, 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church (1936-present)
Note: I wrote this when I was first starting off my blog. I wanted to post this because I wanted to insert comments on what I wrote, reflecting on how much I’ve changed, three years later. X ENC
Turning 18 is a rite of passage where we become full-fledged adults. Even then, we still don’t get to enjoy the ~luxuries~ of adulthood, like drinking, obviously (winking face emoji); in America, adulthood is basically synonymous to turning 21. During that three-year gap between 18 and 21, we’ll still pretend to be adults, some of us hunting down a shady friend of a friend who makes convincing fake IDs, so we can sneak into the nearest bar/club/pub. Since when did your baby face become a convincing 25-year old?
I personally never got a fake ID because during my lucky (?) three years, my friends got me into places. It really helps to have connections and friends who know people, especially in NYC. The power of word of mouth is undeniable.
However, turning 18 is still very important. 18 means breaking off the metaphorical chains created by society; we must make somewhat free choices that we must now claim responsibility to, a stark contrast to the past 18 years, filled with decisions we cannot, will not, call our own. We are put through a flawed school system, which ingrains in us a belief that once high school ends, we will go onto college, and then possibly a professional school if you majored in something useless to the job market during the past four years. After all those extra school years, we will be working, making bucket loads of money with the sole purpose of paying back the choices that have been made for our sake. Supposedly.
Reading this again, I noticed how bleak my perspective on life was. Sadly, it hasn’t changed – if anything, it has turned bleaker. My younger self didn’t account the competition that will inevitably prevent us from making said “bucket loads of money.”
Adulthood is an asset to us when seeking jobs that we want and buying ourselves things we want with our hard-earned cash. If college wasn’t a choice all of us wanted, then working and spending money are two areas that we can control.
Oh my naïve self, thinking that we still have control over these things. Our jobs are generally decided by whoever wants you, regardless to the places that you apply to work for. Our wages are spent mostly on living expenses, unless you’re irresponsible and still believe that your parents will still pay for you.
The Problem with Being an Adult
Growing up in a household where money was tight, I was always filled with envy, seeing fellow peers and famous celebrities prancing around with the newest gadgets and fanciest clothing. Looking at those people, I would always think, “Just wait, that will be you in 20 years, when you hit it big and become famous, way bigger than the celebs you see now. They will be jealous of YOU.”
Now that I’m an “adult,” I want to cash in that statement, despite not having a job that can support the billionaire lifestyle. My rationale for purchasing things I need, aka want, is my childhood saving habits that Warrant Buffet has always preached about – one should live frugally and save now, spend later. However, going into college, I haven’t been consistent with myself, shifting towards spending now, and hopefully saving later.
I still agree with this because I have made questionable purchases over the past few years that I regret. If I could go back in time, I would stop myself from making my “need” purchases, and saving it for something bigger for myself instead.
Giving it a Label
This isn’t a unique problem. I feel as though everyone has experienced the struggle of “delayed gratification” at some point. We learned of this term in AP Psychology, through a famous experiment:
Children under 10 were given a cookie and told that if they didn’t eat it for 10 minutes, then they would be rewarded with five more cookies at the end. Supposedly, the children who held off eating the cookie led more successful lives in comparison to the kids who didn’t.
The purpose of this experiment was to show that children didn’t understand delayed gratification and restraint because their brains weren’t developed to the point where they could comprehend the implications of waiting for things. However, seeing the crimes and scandals written in The New York Times and The Daily Post, we can conclude that this isn’t a problem only found in children. Even better, we can conclude that following rules is something we all struggle with. Consequently, my spending struggles as an ~adult~ is something that goes beyond just a lack of development.
Granted, I’m not like Rebecca in Confessions of a Shopaholic, but I do get tunnel vision, looking at the things I want, for days on end; I try to justify purchasing them. Some of my reasons are, “I threw out my clothes, so I need new clothes to replace them,” “It’s a new season,” and sometimes, “I don’t want to be judged by what I own.” My email subscriptions to Bloomingdales, Tiffany & Co., Vogue, etc. certainly don’t help. I’m bombarded with enticing titles like, “Normcore is Back in Trend: How You Can Wear This Season’s Latest Trends.”
I still get tempted when Kate Spade sends an email with an awesome sale, but I feel like the key to ignoring them is getting so many automated emails, that you just begin to tune them all out.
Conflicts with Getting a Job
I ask myself, “If I buy this herringbone tweed coat for $220 now, will I regret it down the line, knowing that I could’ve spent it on something more fashionable in the future?” This sounds like a vapid first world problem, but it’s much greater than that. The most materialistic things influence how others perceive us, and will affect our future job prospects. First impressions are always important, and physical manifestations of a person’s personality through fashion choices give people a general idea of what kind of person they are.
While judging is hurtful, at time, it’s a necessary evil because in a wired society, no one have the time, or wants to spend the time, getting to know each and every person they meet. Probably outside of Silicon Valley, no one wants to hire an employee who looks like they’re going to get a visit from the fashion police. Unless you’re wearing your grandparents’ vintage designer denim overalls from the 60s as a fashion statement, it’s probably not work appropriate, especially in a corporate setting.
I understand as a fashion lover that it’s important to create your own trends, but there are some societal norms that are hard to overcome. Especially if you aren’t what people perceive as pretty, then it can be even harder for people to be accepting 😥.
In the End of the Day…
Everything we do is a choice, whether it’s shopping for shoes, or only eating a granola bar for lunch. All these choices have their own after effects and ripples. Times like these make me appreciate the days when I was imprisoned to my parents’ ‘choices – at least then I would never have to feel the burden of responsibility. Being an adult means making choices that we live with forever, the good and the bad. I guess I answered my own question then – I’ll just wait another 20 years, saving so that I can only buy luxury goods in the future.
I think this was a good ending to my delayed gratification post, despite almost veering off course in the middle. We don’t fully get to control our choices, but we still have to live with the responsibility of them. And instead of being caught up in how others perceive me, I might as well just save until people look at me with jealousy because of my decision to save.
the girl who will be living a fashionable life soon