American Guilt

December 9, 2008

in Travel

Now that I am back in Los Angeles, I am slowly getting myself back to normal, but also making some changes in my life. One thing my trip to Brazil did for me was make me realize how lazy of an American I am–on so many levels–as well as how much of a glutton i am.

And now I feel guilty.

I really want to run down to Panera and get my sausage breakfast sandwich, because that is what I do every weekday morning. Or, go to Robek’s and pick up a nice smoothie if I’m feeling healthy. But knowing how I went two weeks without my “neccessities” combined with realizing how ridiculously expensive that is in the grand scheme of things makes me feel guilty about wanting them.

So, instead, I sit here in my bed.

I’m somewhat fearful about what I am going to do with myself. I can’t not eat. I can’t not spend. But it all seems so frivolous now. Cable TV? Frivolous. All these clothes? Frivolous! My Wii? Frivolous! These are also expensive. Why do I spend so much?  

I feel like downsizing my entire life now. Going into closets, getting rid of all these “extras” or at least organizing them and putting them in a storage unit for safe keeping. I don’t need all this stuff at my fingertips.

I am a packrat on top of being one of these greedy Americans. I love this country, in fact I have never loved it as much as when I was outside of it. I just think I am beginning to go overboard with my consumption habits.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

anewlis December 9, 2008 at 8:30 AM

wow … sounds like your trip was very insightful. those are the best kind.

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Teech December 9, 2008 at 8:33 AM

Don’t forget that part of being American is the opportunity to be frivolous. Sounds silly, but I think that a lot of ground work laid for us was for the opportunity to choose and to have.
I agree with you and feel like I often live in excess…a trip abroad often has that effect. I starting biking after my trip to Italy and changed the way that I shop…less volume and better quality.

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Liz December 9, 2008 at 8:47 AM

@anewlis yeah, i agree. Even just the time away did me well, no matter where I went. I think if I spent a month in new mexico on my grandmother’s farm, it may have had a similar effect lol. Which reminds me, I spent every summer in the-middle-of-nowhere New Mexico as a kid and it did have this effect on me, in terms of being able to understand that your lifestyle isn’t the same as others.I thinkt his time around it was different for me because lately I have been somewhat unhappy with my life. I know–silly! Everybody always tells me how great my life is yadda yadda, but I am never happy. Now I think I feel guilty for not being content and satisfied this whole time!
@teech My volume is out of control lol. I agree about having the opportunity to choose and have. That’s definitely a better way to look at it.

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Akuba December 9, 2008 at 8:47 AM

Don’t feel bad Americans are slowly but surely realizing what excessive lifestyles we live. Funny you mention a storage unit as a remedy for all your ‘stuff.’ It seems to me that storage units are another indicator of our need for things. We have an entire industry dedicated to storing all the stuff you can’t fit into your house (which ironically enough you probably can live w/o b/c you already are). Its just my take. I’m in the same boat myself…

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Clinton Schaff December 10, 2008 at 5:38 PM

I haven’t done this in practice…. yet… but it’s a fun idea.
Take all that ‘stuff’ and give away to individual items to folks whom you are reminded of when you see those items. And see what some of them naturally give to you.
Yes, Americans have too much stuff generally. But I think it’s equally sucky that these things don’t leave our lives until they’ve become a total burden, which is not allowing for room for other people and things to come into our lives.

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Bill Cammack December 12, 2008 at 1:12 AM

Well, that’s just the thing. When things are removed, they don’t necessarily look the same when replaced. It’s like when you get sick. When you get over it, you’re just glad to be “not sick”. You weren’t glad to be “not sick” before, because you weren’t sick.
Same thing with people who were never laid off until this recent crisis. A lot of them weren’t happy to have their jobs… until they didn’t. Now, they’d be happy to work AT ALL. Forget about their chosen field or field of expertise.

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nel December 13, 2008 at 4:48 PM

Thanks for your insight, i love your honesty!!

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Wes December 16, 2008 at 1:10 PM

Glad you’re back- Can’t wait to see the pics! I can relate to our ‘spoiledness’ as Americans. It’s not until you’ve spent time in another country that you can kinda understand why America is looked down upon. We take something as simple as hot water for granted.

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Wes December 16, 2008 at 1:10 PM

Glad you’re back- Can’t wait to see the pics! I can relate to our ‘spoiledness’ as Americans. It’s not until you’ve spent time in another country that you can kinda understand why America is looked down upon. We take something as simple as hot water for granted.

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T Street December 19, 2008 at 7:24 PM

I just started reading your site. It is awesome.

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monika December 22, 2008 at 8:24 AM

americans do spend tons of money of stuff we truly don’t need at all. so when you start giving your stuff away…umm remember me šŸ™‚ i haven’t reached this level quite yet lol!!

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