Welcome to a series from Culture Shock, Be Younonymous. Here, anonymous members of the BU community contribute their stories from campus life and beyond under the condition of complete secrecy. Have a story? e-mail it to Beyounonymous@bucultureshock.com . We’ll take it to our servers’ graves.
Walking down Commonwealth Avenue, studying in Mugar, or jet setting home for the holidays, every day, each and every one of us encounters and plays a role in society. Taking a look around reveals the physical diversity in the people that surround us, but what about mentalities? Specifically, when I say “mentality”, I am mainly referring to this monetary mentality that none of us can seem to escape. I have never noticed money and the role it plays in my life as much as I do now and reflecting on the past, I see how it has shaped me into the person I am and the thoughts I have on the subject.
Growing up in classic wealthy-white American city, money was something that hoarded in on my life and filled me with intimidation on a daily basis. If you have never been to a city such as the one I am from, first off, don’t go seeking one. There is really not much more to see there than Louis Vuitton bags in every elbow crevice and Bentley convertibles on every street corner. Second off, the city where I am from is one of the most hoity toity little cities you will ever visit. Middle-aged mothers with implants bigger than their brain dot the sidewalks sometimes paired with their equally “plastic” daughters. The men are just as bad with their similarly ostentatious BMW convertibles and ever growing egos that show with their Rolex-locked wrists on the wheel.
Not only was I placed in this ill-society for my high school years (and not to say I didn’t enjoy it after finding the crowd right for me), I also went to one of the more expensive and pretentious private schools in the area. I loved my high school years, I really did and I would take nothing back about them. However, being placed in that setting, I really learned a lot about others and myself just from conversations, attitudes, and demeanors of my peers. Although I went to a notoriously expensive school, my family was by no means wealthy. We stretched our means so that I was able to go to an educationally renowned school. What did I learn? A whole lot more than I ever thought possible.
$2,500 prom dresses, private planes and multi-million dollar homes were among the most popular topics of conversation among the majority of my peers. It was from the multitude of conversations on these items that I began to analyze society and money from the very beginning of my freshman year. I could not believe the things that people would do to fit into this clan of the “rich and classy (more like Klassy).” I literally witnessed people bending over backward to have that purse or that car, and what for? $1,000 for a little stamp saying “Made in Paris” for a bag sewn by a sweatshop worker somewhere in Taiwan?
As I sit here typing this I notice my three-year-old Gucci wallet sitting on my desk realizing that, I too, fell victim to this trap of society. $200 dollars that took months of saving for something that sits in my pocket all day and is now falling apart. Why? Appearance. A wallet was about as far as I went with my obsession and thank goodness for that for, I soon began to realize that this person that society was making me out to be, was not what I wanted. This perspective of people remained constant throughout my high school years soon would carry over to my life at Boston University. I am a freshman this year and continuing to learn and comprehend money in the world and not just because I am in the School of Management studying accounting.
SMG. Sex, Money, Greed. This is the school I affiliate myself with. Somehow, in moving across the country, I managed to place myself in the same scene of my high school years: a group of people sadly obsessed with money. My first day of SM121, the professor asked how many people were in SMG to make money. You would not be surprised to hear that more than 80% percent of the people in the lecture hall raised their hand. What is this saying? The majority of the people surrounding us are in some manner possessed by money. Why am I in SMG? To study international business (I love it!), travel the world, clean up the reputation of capitalism, and be able to live a life that allows me to help others. Not to say I am the only person in SMG to have this type of mentality, I have met plenty of others with whom I share this in common. I actually feel that, overall, I have not met one bad person in the school. However, with the generally poor philosophies of money and the willingness of doing anything to get it, I would bet that many people would answer the question “why am I here?” with “a Ferrari, a mansion, and a private plane.”
These items, as well as others that contribute to outward appearances are what draw people to money. We are all so utterly obsessed with others thoughts and judgments that we would literally set anything aside to have that one item that makes us totally different (but in reality, very much the same) from others. We only push ourselves down by giving into these physical items. Our self-esteem is continually lowered because there is always someone out there with bigger and better things. I am not saying that it is a crime to have these things in your life. One of my high school friend’s family owned their own jet, an amazingly large home, and many other luxury goods and they were probably the most down to earth people one could ever meet. I didn’t even realize this fact until my senior year, she was so humbled by it and for her family, owning a plane was just more practical with all the travelling her father had to do. By all means, I say enjoy life and what it has to offer, but do not let it control your life like so many of us do, myself, at times, included.
My thoughts on the topic are this. We live in a self-conscious society. Each person walks their path fearing what others are thinking about them. The truth of the matter is that those who judge you are going to keep on judging and those who like you for who you are will embrace you, even with all of your little internal quirks (they are what make life interesting). It is not what you have on the outside that is going to make people like and respect you. I can tell you that, from my experience in high school and what I have seen in college, those who live their life on the outside (i.e. cars, bags, and big boobs) are far more judged by society than those who are comfortable in knowing who they are. I believe that if each and everyone one of us played our selves and not some fake fantasy, other people would start to become more comfortable in who they are. Money does make the world go ’round. You can barely live without spending money on food, transportation, and just life in general. This is a fact of life that we must all accept, unfortunately. However, though money may run society, money does not have to run you.