Truth be told, I had genuinely believed I was immune to it. That I would become just another consumer, caught up in the endless pursuit of more, more, more was simply not an idea I had given a thought to. I had never been that person before, how could it be possible that I might eventually become so?
And yet several months ago, there I was. A consumer driven by an unquenchable thirst for accumulation. I had in fact become a version of myself that I no longer recognised.
It is no mean feat constructing a comfortable and secure existence in Italy. Any foreigner who has made the choice to immigrate to this beautiful country knows full well that the odds are stacked up against you. I had imagined that after 5 years of living here, I would have finally found my feet. But alas it was not so. Despite everything I still find myself living month to month, unable to get ahead, sacrificing in all manner of ways to fund the one thing I would ideally love to do more of: travel.
The realisation that I was still just treading water sent me on a steep and slippery spiral towards the grips of depression and at one very dark and gloomy point, I almost submitted. But on a random day just like any other, as though the clouds parted after a long and dreadful storm, I remembered who I was and what I had always wanted my life to be about.
Lost had been the girl who, 8 years ago, sold all of her worldly possessions and packed a single suitcase to set off into the world. For years she had lived with very little and not once had she ever felt as though her life was lacking in any materialistic way. Because when it comes down to it, there is very little that we as human beings actually need, for survival and to achieve happiness.
In my attempts to establish a durable life here in Italy, I had become sucked into the vortex of consumerism. No matter what I accumulated, the desire for more only intensified. It was as though each new piece of furniture, every addition to my wardrobe, each added pair of boots to an already substantial collection was fuel on the fire of my want for possessions.
If we are all honest with ourselves, we would realise that far from being an unusual case, my experience is merely a reflection of the norm. The Western world has evolved into something so very far from where we began. And it’s not pretty. The simple values of kindness, caring for others, offering help to those in need, loving thy neighbour and living in harmony with the environment have moved so far down our list of priorities that it’s shameful.
It’s no surprise, however, that this has come to pass. If we think about the potency of consumerism and how it is injected into our minds every second of every day, it’s no wonder that this is what has become of us. We can hardly blame ourselves for not being immune to the power of advertising, the clout of jealousy towards our fellow man or the staggering desire to provide for our families above and beyond what they actually require.
What we can admonish ourselves for, however, is realising where we currently are and actively choosing not to do anything about it. For myself, that was simply unacceptable.
So this is me making the choice to do something about it. I am taking back control of my wants and my desires. I will cease to be driven by an insatiable appetite for property which ultimately never delivers the happiness we are led to believe is guaranteed by its acquisition. I have decided to no longer be a victim of consumerism.