I will probably never own a Louis Vuitton. I’ve yearned for one since I was a teenager, and for the first time in my life, I have the means to buy one, and suddenly…the urge has departed completely. As I have grown older, and worked harder (even struggling at times), I have reflected on how much of life is spent in the pursuit of material goods. And although I am still young, I have just enough years under my belt to look back on my own endeavors as a basis to evaluate my values and desires for the future. And with those things considered, I have made a personal affirmation to empty my online shopping carts of all my aspirational purchases, and to focus on substance.
Don’t get me wrong, LV bags are beautiful (and I would happily accept one as a gift, in case anyone feels so compelled), but the average clutch costs more than my last galivant in Europe. Louboutins are gorgeous too, but not more gorgeous than the jungles of Costa Rica (and they cost about the same as my last trip there.) My passion is adventure, and I cannot help but to compare every expense to its equivalent in travel. I cannot conceive even the finest leathergoods or rarest gem to ever equate to the fulfilment of experiencing new corners of the world.
This newfound perspective and hierarchy of priorities makes it difficult to justify any purchase that comes in a shopping bag, but costs as much as a flight. And so, I will endure the persistent teasing from my boyfriend accusing me of being “cheap” for paroozing the sale racks at H&M.
For a long time, I too was caught up in the pursuit of “things,” but I have evolved to realize that the pursuit of happiness is found in experiences, not things. When I am on my deathbed and looking back on my life, I want to say to myself, “oh, the places you’ve been.” And in that moment of most moral honesty I am sure I will not remember the “bliss” that a Rolex brought to my life in my 20s. While one thing is an investment in your personal image, the other is an investment in your soul.
This is by no means to say that you must choose one or the other, or to say that my priorities and values are worth more than anyone else’s, but I’ve never been an exceedingly fashion forward girl. And admittedly, an incredibly well-dressed woman who is the envy of the room makes me lust for her closet, but this feeling is only momentary and fleeting. I find more joys in the practical. Because for me, the worth of life is measured in the intangible joys – hearty laughter, catching a sunrise, watching your family enjoy a meal you’ve prepared, getting lost in a foreign city, backyard barbeques with the summer sunset as a backdrop, and a good wine-buzz with your lover. These little moments create a fullness in your heart that cannot be replicated by monogramed leather or luxury cars.
In my life thus far, the only investments that have truly paid off in dividends are the ones I’ve made in myself; travel, concerts, camping trips, unforgettable meals…experiences bonding with others and soaking in culture. When you work hard and sacrifice time out of your life for a salary, you should ensure that money is well spent, and that each moment of time off is savored and meaningful.
We are all merely authors of our own personal stories. And since I am writing the manuscript of my own life, I intent to make it a page turner that’s worth reading. And so I vow to worry more about the content of my chapters rather than the illustrations on the front cover.
I will always aspire to make memories that last, rather than to fill a closet or a driveway with things that will depreciate with each passing day. And although at times I have been guilty of falling into the societal obsession on the material, at my foundation, these simpler values were always instilled in me by my family. A family that was always conservative with money so that they may afford to take my brother and I on unforgettable trips – to Greece, to Belize, to Italy, even just stay-cations boating to local islands and camping at natural springs. I realize now the effort my parents made in creating memories that have bonded us even closer together, and their value is unquantifiable. And so, I too will choose clearance over couture, and to thrust all the money into new adventures. And I can only hope that at the age of 27, my future children will come to the same realization and be thankful because of the way I’ve raised them and the places I’ve exposed them to.
If you have bothered to read this far, I hope to have sparked some thought (even if you disagree with my priorities completely.) I hope you will allocate your hard-earned funds to things that make you happy and whole – whatever those things may be. Find something that inspires you, and invest in it, and by doing so, you’ll be investing in yourself. This journey is not about getting rich, it is about leading a life that is rich in experiences.
And as my shopping list of “wants” grows thinner, my bucket list of destinations grows longer. I hope I will be judged not by my shoes (that were likely scavenged from an outlet store), but rather by my diverse group of friends from around the globe, or my collection of photographs from far away places. And regardless of what people think, the only judgement that matters is my own evaluation of my life. I am already dizzied by the blessings and amazing places I have ended up to this point, and it makes me so exhilerated to plan for more. So when I die, even if I do so penny-less, it will be with a full passport and a full heart!
(And on that note, now that I have sufficiently pled my case justifying my own spending and depletion of my PTO, I can announce that my bags for my next trip to Rome, the Amalfi Coast, and island hopping in Croatia! So please stay tuned – this blog is about to come to life again!)