A Glimpse Into My Life

See it through my eyes & understand me a little more

Not Having Or Not Having What You Want

I’ve noticed something. It happens with me sometimes, and I’ve definitely seen it in a lot of my friends/associates. There is a bad habit that we have developed and I have my own theory behind why:

We say, “I don’t have [something],” instead of being honest with ourselves and saying, “I don’t have [something] because I can’t get what I want.”

There is a difference.

After a recent conversation with an associate of mine, I was asked what type of phone I had and I immediately thought of this issue. My reply was, “The one that calls people” (I used to say that I had a pre-paid phone, but everyone has an opinion on that subject, so I’ve changed my answer). I don’t need a device that takes pictures; I already own a digital camera (excess, I just “need” a camera). I don’t need a device that accesses the Internet; I already own a laptop with wireless capabilities (excess, I own a Mac). I don’t need a device that makes ringtones; I keep my phone on vibrate. I don’t need a device that also happens to play music; I already own an mp3 player (excess, I own an iTouch).

It would be nice to have a phone that did all of those things, but it is not necessary.

I thought I would start off with my own experience in “not having” something. I was angered when I was forced to get a pre-paid phone because I could no longer afford a contract with a cell phone provider. I mean, who has pre-paid anything?

That’s so poor.

Now, it’s been close to two years since I have the phone and it’s done its job. I have nothing to complain about really.

But back to my friends. I notice that we (my generation) have a habit of saying, “I don’t have something” or that “I can’t get something” when what we truly mean to say is that “I don’t have the ability to get the something that I want.” I think we stop short of speaking the truth because it does two things:

(1)    It reveals just how selfish we are as a person. Selfish! Other words that mean the same thing are self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, egotistical, and egocentric.
(2)    It reveals how ungrateful we are as a person. Ungrateful! Other meanings include unappreciative, showing no gratitude, or unthankful.

These are two very dangerous things, especially if you have a belief in a Higher Power. It’s also very dangerous because it shows our true character, or rather that we lack character. And while it mirrors the selfish and materialistic society that we live in, it shows that we are unwilling to live a simple life as we are all called to do.

What I really want to ask my friends when they say things like this is, “When did it become more important to have a brand/model/make than to have that bare necessity taken care of” (Or is it really more important to have no phone versus that hot new phone? What happens if you are in a car accident and they reach for something to possibly notify your relatives?* You have nothing. You are unnamed and cannot be claimed)?

After all, these are things that we deem important, whether it be a phone, a computer, a car, clothing, etc.

But this has all led me to think about my childhood (and this is where the belief in a Higher Power ties in) and when I would shop someplace with my Mom. We were poor. We couldn’t afford much. Most times, it was just the bare necessities, but my Mom made things work. One year, I was going to the 6th grade and I wanted a NEW uniform. My Mom would purchase our uniforms slightly larger and then hem them to make them fit and since I’d always been short/small for my age and we’d always been strapped for cash, this worked for us. Well, I didn’t have a growth spurt of any kind from 4th to 6th grade, and I knew that this year my uniform jumper (which I’d had since the 4th grade) was just going to be turned into a skirt.

But being ungrateful, I knowingly asked my Mom if I could get a new skirt. Every other girl, I reasoned, would have a new skirt for school. My Mom explained to me that I already knew the rule and that since my uniform still fit, I would not be getting a new skirt. Besides, my brothers NEEDED new uniform pants (they always grew like weeds) and those were expensive as well. So, I sulked. I mean, I sulked! And being the parent that she is (she doesn’t like seeing her children upset), she caved and got me a new skirt.

I was excited. I had already made plans for the ribbons that I would wear in my hair on that first day, whether I’d wear the white socks with the ruffles or just the plain white socks, and how I would make sure my shoes were absolutely gorgeous (no scuffs whatsoever). I did this all before we left that store.

However, upon leaving the store, I quickly realized that I had no new school shoes. My Mom told me that she would get me a new pair when she got her next paycheck (that was after school started) and that I would have to wait and simply wear my shoes from the year before. Now, the shoes were in great condition (seriously, my Mom made us take our uniforms off immediately when we got home…so that made things last), but they were too small. I NEEDED new shoes. It didn’t take long to realize that I would have to make a “big girl” decision. I told her (5 minutes after leaving the store and while waiting on the public bus) that I would be okay with wearing my “mended” halter uniform because I needed the shoes and requested that we return the skirt.

She gladly obliged my request and as a treat, we stopped at Baskin Robbins for ice cream (granted we had to walk the rest of the way home…but who cares, we had ice cream!).

I said all of that to say this, if you are a believer in any Higher Power, then in that relationship, you probably look to your deity as a parent. Do you understand how a selfish, ungrateful, and materialistic child hurts them? That’s not what they teach you. We are not taught to only want the best or the most expensive at the cost of anything. No, we are taught to meet our basic needs and to live a life that is humble. We are taught that if we do these things, then all of our needs will be met and we would be able to enjoy the treats (extra goodies that are often surprises) that they have in store for us.

But we don’t do these things. We live a life of excess. In church and in the streets, we flash our cell phones, our vehicles, and other personal possessions and we say that this is a testament of the goodness of our God. Then we go home and we’re wondering why we can’t pay all of our bills on time. We send our kids off to school for their first day in new “kicks” (do people say that still?), and then we’re having candlelit family dinners because the lights suddenly got cut off. Or we have the newest (insert lavish vehicle here), but we’re in church wanting to be put on the prayer list because of potential repossession of the house we live in.

We are selfish. We think of our outer image more than we think of our inner spirit. We are ungrateful. We want everything better than our neighbor and we’ll do anything to get it.

So reader, pause.

Then think, “When was the last time you let your selfish character show without realizing it?” Then, you should think about the way that you can change this. Now is not the time to live a lavish lifestyle. Now is the time to live the life that you are called to live. The one that is written for you. The one that shows humility. This is especially important if you believe in a Higher Power. If not, then just do it because you’ll feel better knowing your bills are paid and you don’t have to want for anything.

Besides, you can’t take it (any material thing of this world) with you anyway.

I wrote this note because many of my friends are often my sources of support when I feel I need help with a situation. However, there have been many times that I’ve talked to them and some remark was made about how they couldn’t “live” a certain way or have a certain thing. These things are phones with contracts, cars, vacations that they should postpone but choose not to because they “deserve” it, or other things. What they don’t understand is that “words are some of the strongest tools we possess” (thank you L. G. Hawkins III for that quote). When they say these things to me, those tools then become devices that hurt. And they cut deep. My life may not be good enough to you but it’s the one that I have and if your asking for my advice, you don’t get how you’ve just insulted my hard work AND how far I have come.

Thanks but no thanks.

In the future, I ask that you keep all comments such as these to yourself.

*Make sure you I.C.E. the people in your Contacts/Phone book that are important to you or that you would have officials notify in an Emergency. I.C.E. means In Case of Emergency and they will know what to do.


4 responses to “Not Having Or Not Having What You Want

  1. JayetheDreamer August 25, 2009 at 5:15 am

    I love you for writing this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called lame because I don’t have a Blackberry or a smart-phone.

    I wont lie, I’ve acted ungrateful many times. Just the other day I was bitter at my iPod for not being “cool;” because it’s black&white and it was made about 3/4 years ago.

    This post made me think back to when I was a kid, living in the projects and my brothers and I didn’t always eat name brand food, but we ate. We didn’t always get name brand clothes, but we were dressed neat.

    Thanks for making me realize all that Im grateful for. I already knew I was grateful, but sometimes I need a wake up call like this.

    • misscjayne August 25, 2009 at 3:19 pm

      Thank you, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed this. I think people often need to be reminded. I actually started writing this as a personal reflection, but then I just went ahead and decided to share. I’m glad that I did. A lot of folks have related and responded positively to it.

  2. Jas August 26, 2009 at 4:34 am

    I would agree that a large proportion of our generation is individualistic (all about themselves), but selfish- no. If you don’t have the means to acquire the brand, model, or make of “what’s hot”, you are not selfish because you don’t actually possess those items. The sense that you always want items that you don’t have the means for- that’s materialistic! Materialism is the disease you described in your story- wanting things over your needs. However, this concept is subjective. Taking your example, you wanted a new skirt but realized that your need for the shoes was more important. Others may think that fitting in with the new skirt is more important than having shoes that actually fit.

    This next example, I love- the family that has a rimmed out Escalade, every pair of Jordan’s, and lives in low-income housing projects. For this household, having their material needs met is more important than where they live. Even if it means subjecting their children to drugs, violence, and low-performing schools.

    However, there’s a thin line between recognizing what your means are and living within them and on the other side, recognizing your means and letting your that dictate your actions negatively. For example, you isolate, disassociate, or withdrawal from activities or people based on your means. I believe that experiences are more than the simple actions. So if a group is going to a bar and my money is tight, I’m still going to go to socialize (and perhaps someone will buy me a drink).

    Sorry so long…

    • misscjayne August 26, 2009 at 4:47 pm

      Thanks Jas for coming through! I totally get everything that you are saying. I guess my point in calling people who feel this way selfish (or wanting outside of your means a selfish act) is because you place yourself center and pretty much (from what I’ve seen) would do anything to get that material object. That in my opinion is far past being materialistic. I think it’s taking it to another level.

      It’s also selfish when you put others in “sticky” situations because you decided to live beyond your means or (and this is where the post came from) you complain to a friend with less that you or suggest that things that aren’t name brand and “top of the line” are beneath you knowing full well that’s what that person has.

      I just think that it’s super easy and very damaging to become wrapped up in the what, and while many people know this, they are still selfish enough to go out and live beyond their means.

      But I loved this comment. You pointed out some things that I didn’t think about.

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