In the last 5-6 years, my life has gotten considerably easier. In the sense that financially I don’t have the same worries that I had in my 20s and 30s. There is money in the bank that provides a safety net for emergencies, I am putting away money towards retirement, and I am comfortably able to pay my monthly bills for both the business and my personal life. Which is a 180 from my earlier days when I lived off credit cards and was wondering if I would make payroll every month.
Recently, I have found that this attitude that I “deserve” this or that creeping into my thoughts. I “have” to eat out whenever and wherever I want, I can and am “entitled to” buy any gadget or thing that I want, regardless of whether or not I have a need. I “need” to go to the spa and get a facial and relax, I “deserve” to take this trip. I find this feeling of entitlement unsettling and disturbing.
A little bit about me, my parents are immigrants that came to the United States from Taiwan in the 1970s. I was born in 1974 at Swedish Hospital in Littleton, CO. I grew up in a middle class family, where both my parents worked. We took modest annual vacations to Lake McConaughy in Nebraska every summer where we would boat, fish, water ski and swim. My parents were very modest in their spending, and I grew up rarely eating out, watching my Mother paint her own nails, cut my father’s hair and we lived with the same furniture and blue station wagon for the entirety of my childhood. We were naturally less wasteful, not due to a passion for the environment, but because we couldn’t afford to be wasteful.
This upbringing has served me well, especially during the early days of my business career when I was running on a very shoe string budget. I have learned to live modestly and not covet material possessions. As my income has grown, my appetite for spending has not ,for which I have my parents to thank.
Recently, I found myself thinking that I “deserve” this or that. I think this is a common trap many of us that live in America, the land of excess and abundance. We are surrounded by a culture of entitlement… that we “deserve” certain things for being American. Marketers have a hay day with marketing “self-care,” you deserve this, or you need to indulge in that. In many ways self-care has become so commercialized, that for many it is a spending frenzy. Spending money on hair, makeup, spa treatments, clothing etc. I think it affects women more than men. Women are put in vulnerable financial situations, when they are spending all of their disposable income on “self-care”, rather than building a financial safety net. Brianna Wiest writes a very thought provoking blog on what self-care REALLY means, and it is really an unglamorous and sometimes boring thing.
As parents we need to work extra hard to not pass along a feeling of entitlement to our children. I worry that with my own daughter, Maya, that she will become entitled, because she is living in a different time with different privileges. Clearly, if I start developing an attitude of entitlement, she will be much more likely to embody those same values. I try to stay extra vigilant when I feel that my attitude is changing. When I have an attitude that I “deserve” this or that, clearly this is when it is time to take a step back and actually re-connect with the roots that my parents laid. Where I am grateful for all of the freedoms provided for me here in America, but I am clearly not “entitled” to them. I have to work hard every day to remind myself and my daughter of the privileges we have and they should not be taken lightly or for granted.