Social Media and The 'Right' Things

As the words came out of my mouth, I knew they were wrong. I'd actually been making an argument for buying a certain expensive, popular item of clothing in order to remain relevant to my Instagram followers. I was mortified. Admitting it now...also embarrassing. I'm also sure that a great deal of the people reading this post have been swayed by what's trending on social media, however - can we admit it? Don't we all own a Chemex or an iPad or that perfect pair of sunnies because it's the 'right' thing to have? I'm raising my hand, not proudly, but honestly. I have done this. I've been swayed by trends and popular items all too often, yet we cannot afford to have all of the things everyone says we must have to be interesting and popular on social media (which I am largely dependent on for income). Yet many of the things we've bought into over the years have ended up being sold at a tag sale or tossed haphazardly into a box headed for the local thrift store. It all seems pretty silly doesn't it? In order for me to provide for my family, I have to stay relevant and on trend: that being me isn't quite enough.

Years ago, when Adelaide was a baby, it was very popular to use a lot of bold color in decorating. My friends were insistent that I ditch my love of neutrals and adapt to the trend: neutrals are boring, they insisted. The popular decor blogs reiterated their point. Perhaps my love for all things brown and white was boring, I began to wonder. Little by little, I started painting perfectly good pieces of wooden furniture in bright, poppy hues that were, yes, admittedly pretty, but they weren't me. They made my head spin, all those bright colors against brightly colored walls. I longed for the days where I'd been true to myself and what loved. I tried stripping the paint from antique dressers and my pretty oak nightstands, but the damage had been done. I'd bought into what others were telling me I just had to have...and forgotten self in the process.

In sharing my family's journey to a simpler life, I want to explore the reasons behind the decisions we make on a heart level. I want to understand why I sometimes compulsively shop, why I bought a Chemex instead of a Mr. Coffee. Truthfully, I actually really love our Chemex and enjoy making coffee in it every morning. I think the way the light catches on the glass is beautiful and it makes me happy to look at...yet not every purchase I've made, or every decision made about big life stuff (like having a mortgage when we don't want one), has been solely based on what's best for us - for our family and for our needs and wants. So much of what we do is heavily influenced by what is deemed as 'right': before the Chemex was trending, the French press was trending. 'Arriving' at true adulthood is often measured in a mountain of debt surrounded by a picket-fence...but what if that's not what we truly want?

What if that is okay for someone else, but not for us? Are we irresponsible or less 'adult' because we want to live with less and live tiny? Does not buying whatever's trending make us less relevant or 'cool'? Maybe sometimes the thing that's trendy is something we actually really love (like my Chemex) and use and makes us happy. I think the problem starts when we feel the need to have all the 'right' things, even when we can't afford them, only to appear to have our shit together, to be effortless in how we appear to others...not only are we potentially amassing debt and things we don't love or want, but we're lying about who we really are...and worst of all, we're lying to ourselves. We aren't asking ourselves what we truly want out of life. Who we are. What things in life bring us joy. These are questions that we're working to answer in our family these days, attempting to forget all the 'right' answers, the trends, the so-called measures of adulthood and ask very simply and pointedly: what do we want? What brings us joy?