I was nervous that moving to New York would make me more materialistic. Everywhere you look are signs of wealth; it is a constant display of conspicuous consumption where people casually wear $500 shoes on the subway, overhear conversations of people spending $200 at dinner last night ( and it was a cheap meal), or casually mention about the after parties of Fashion Week. Sometimes the street feels like a runway, everyone sporting their limited edition Nikes, holding $7 golden lattes, and on their way to SoulCycle.
I thought I would fall into the materialistic rabbit hole, and endless emotional downfall for the need to have more, more, more, and never feel satisfied with what I had. I thought I would feel more envious of what I couldn’t afford and judgemental of what others could.
And maybe if I moved to New York right after college, I would feel that and fall into that trap of getting a high paying job just so I could have fancy clothes, spend $19 on a cocktail, and go to exclusive nightclubs, so I could continue to fill a void I had inside of me with the newest electronics, the expensive food, or the stunning Instagram photos to show that I had made it.
But I think all too often we equate financial success with actual success, which calls into question what is a successful person? Do they have 500K Twitter followers or multiple summer homes or sit front row at basketball games?
Or do they have loving relationships? Are they kind to strangers? Do they love themselves? Are they able to quell the inner demons of loneliness, doubt, and envy and be able to sit comfortably with themselves in the present moment? Are they able to be happy with where they are, wherever they are, regardless of how their stocks are doing?
Long distance travel absolutely taught me how to live simply. If I could carry it on my back I could take it, if not I don’t need it. And fortunately, that mentality has transferred over while living in New York. My happiest moments in New York are not experiences I can purchase: dancing at house parties, strolling and chatting with my friends, and looking around the subway at the beautiful multicultural population that makes up New York.
Those who can afford the $12 eclectic ice creams, the 4-hour tasting dinners, and a yearly membership to Equinox, good on them! But that’s not for me and won’t be the motivator for the work I do.
I know what I need and the rest won’t fill me. A human must be happy without things.