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We should learn to prioritise our cardinal needs

What is societal pressure? Perhaps it’s a term that we don’t use every day but are very familiar with. It could mean different things to anyone but ultimately it means the pressure to fit-in using materialistic metrics.

Some of you may be wondering where I am going with this. First things first is that this article is not written to shame anyone who has a taste for the finer things in life….. I was watching The Real; a tv talk-variety show that airs during the week at 17:00 pm. The ladies were discussing a topic that prompted this article.

In this segment they were talking about a man who has been working at this bakery for over 40 years in Chicago. He went from being the delivery boy to a baker. People on social media commented asking questions like: has his pay increased ever since he started working there? This was a fair question considering the inflation level being at an all-time high but why ask that question specifically when you could ask many more.

At this day & age we’re living in a time where most things are about how many Gucci bags one has or how many countries you’ve been to. What happened to having passion and dedicating yourself to the job you love? Now we all at least know someone who is working a job they don’t like, just so they can pay their bills and put food on the table.

I have fell in this societal trap too. I used to ask my mother who has been a teacher for over 22 years at the same school she began teaching at. Her friends who work as principals and in the Education department would often tell her about Deputy Principal posts. In my opinion she was a chicken. Never did she email her CV nor attend interviews.

I felt frustrated. In my head I was asking all sorts of questions like “why doesn’t she want a better life for us?”, “Does she not have any goals to move up the ladder?” and many more questions continued to pop in my head. I then realised something. My mother loves being a teacher and for her it’s not so much about the pay cheque as it is about her core responsibilities. However, I’m not saying she would work for free but you catch my drift? Being an Educator makes her happy and somehow comfortable; something which makes me feel nervous till this day.

Our youth is breaking boundaries and pushing limits. There are new apps that are helping us get closer to each other quicker and new inventions that help us to live safer and longer – all created by young and creative people who are not afraid of taking that first step. During an era where Social Media is thriving at selling dreams, one is most likely to fall in this trap of excessive materialism.

Too many people are bending over and breaking their backs for a Moschino bag, a Gucci belt or Coco Chanel shades. But is that not the whole point for capitalists? Dangling and showing you things that you WANT but are not a necessity. This phenomenon made me realise that the way we are created as humans makes me feel icky. Chasing a new high and the next big thing. Not being content and thankful for what we have.

Social Media is great and awesome but it has made people feel like what they have is not enough. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying if you’ve worked long and hard for your money, you don’t deserve a vacation in Bermuda. What I’m saying boils down to one thing which is: let’s not force our parents, guardians or significant others to live up to a lifestyle which they can hardly afford.

You may be crying over not having an iPhone but have a roof over your head and a blanket to keep you warm, and somewhere in the world that may be the only thing someone else needs. Let us learn to prioritise our needs over wants. Don’t let the pressure get to you.

~ Andiswa Kunene

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