Spring Semester Goals – Rejecting Materialism

During my first semester of college at Boston University, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of opportunities to endlessly spend your money; restaurants, coffee shops, and stores that I had never had the opportunity to shop at back in my small town in New Hampshire (The closest Urban Outfitters was 45 minutes away in Burlington MA). Not to mention, while looking at my peers who walked up and down Comm Ave in pricey Canada Goose coats and Yeezys, I was incessantly influenced to keep up when I couldn’t afford it.

Being poor at a private university (a term coined by BU students Dev Blair and Pamela Munoz) sucks. Poor students already start off at a disadvantage compared to their wealthier peers. Although they can afford school through federal grants and hefty merit aid private schools usually offer to economically disadvantaged students, they can’t afford the lifestyle. Boston University has a large undergrad population, and the average family median income for a student at BU is $141,000. 61% of students come from the top 20 income percentile, while only 4.2% of students families make less than $20,000 a year. I am in the minority; students who are coming from working to middle class families.

Because of the economic diversity problem at the school, I got to witness a lot of excessive spending by my peers that I too fell victim to. Letting all self-control fly out the window, I blew the spending money I saved for college on clothes and shoes, and made countless trips going out to eat. Don’t even get me started on the hundreds of dollars I spent at Kung Fu Tea.

Of course I have no one but myself to blame for these reckless purchases. Over a month-long winter break as I was packing to go back to Boston, I looked at all the new stuff I acquired over 3 months. Were any of these purchases worth it? Did they make me anymore content with my life? Or were they only for show to prove to others that I can fit in with the rest? After all it was just stuff, non-essentials that were only adding on to the collection of stuff I already owned.

This realization has led me to reject the rampant consumerism and materialism from my first semester, and change my philosophy to a simpler, minimalist mindset. I don’t want to add on to my collection of stuff just for the sake of buying things anymore. Stuff doesn’t and will never make me happy. Happiness comes from within and no one and nothing will provide it for me. I only want to live for myself and not for others. By doing this, I hope to appreciate living below my means, pursuing a lifestyle that allows me to enjoy experiences rather than things. This also means saving money in the long run.

Doing this won’t be easy, especially in a city like Boston where shops and places to eat are all over campus. But I hope, throughout this journey, that I can better discipline myself in order to build character and practice humbleness out of the hardships of coming from a working class family with limited money and resources.


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