Ten years ago I blitzed £4,000 on a 4 week trip to the USA.
Planning for the pretenniless trip has made spending that amount of money seem completely insane but at the time I didn’t think twice about it. I didn’t question spending my money like I was rollin’ in it. If I could have seen myself ten years on, travelling around the States spending not a single cent, hitchhiking, couchsurfing and dumpster diving for food, I would’ve thought I’d lost it in my old age.
Even though neither my boyfriend nor I were loaded, it was so easy to get wrapped up in that consumerist world.
I guess I was influenced by MTV etc. I wanted to be rich, even for a few weeks. We hired a car but it had to be a COOL car. We got our teeth whitened (that cost a lot back then!) We stayed in fancy hotels. The cheapest of anything wouldn’t do. We ate out every day for every meal, going for things like lobster (picking it out of a tank whilst it was still alive and eating it off my plate moments later, breaks my heart thinking of that now!) We shopped. We shopped so hard. I had a snakeskin purse handmade FFS.
I was a “clueless consumer” with no thought to the life of that lobster. I put food into my mouth and didn’t think about where it had come from, if it had a life, all the processes my food had gone through, all the packaging it was in. [Check out Rob Greenfield’s article on clueless consumerism.]
I had a false sense of worth. I considered myself more important than the snake. I had no regard for the life of the snake that made my purse (that I never even used by the way), I didn’t just believe my fashion accessory was more important than the snake’s life but what’s worse is I DIDN’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. I was completely clueless. And did it all make me happy? Hell no. I was definitely looking for happiness in all the wrong places.
Believing I deserve the “best” but the best was what someone on telly told me is the best, not necessarily what is best for my body or the environment. Now, I would be far happier eating out of a dumpster, knowing that I’m having as little impact on the environment as possible. Eating out of a bin isn’t beneath me; I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to showing just how much decent food gets wasted every day.
The contrast between me at 18 and me and 28 is so huge. I didn’t gain anything from the 2006 trip at all. I didn’t learn anything about the country or people and I didn’t appreciate the natural beauty of the landscape. I went to Yosemite but have no memory of it, that’s how great an impression it made on me! I gained possessions. I bought heaps of stuff – clothes, shoes, ornaments, a pirate’s chest…all of which I’ve now sold or given away. Now, I try and avoid buying anything new. With purchases I ask, do I want this or do I need it? Lusting for an object is so short-lived that lusted objects are always destined for the waste pile. And now I hardly want anything! Less baggage also means more freedom. Not eating meat and avoiding buying packaged products are other things. The main contrast though is that I’m now finding happiness; I must be looking in all the right places ♡