A friend of mine is having trouble saving up.
She lives in Dhaka, sharing an apartment with two others. Being away from your parents is hard enough. Juggling studies, 3-4 jobs and managing your own little household can be asking a lot from a 20-something. She earns more than many her age do but has trouble saving up for the future, something we all feel a need to do.
She asks me how much I spend on a daily basis. I told her the meager amount of daily allowance I get from home and added that it doesn’t cover my daily expenses at all. To that my friend asked me, how could that meager daily allowance not be enough?
Right away she got a call from her special friend about a spontaneous meet up at a new restaurant that opened up across the street. She went away in a haste. How could a small allowance each day not be enough?
Well, to answer that, let us take a look at a day in life of yours truly, an average undergrad student, going about her day. I reach my campus within approximately 10 Damien Rice songs. Upon entering the institution, I may or may not head up to class, depending on who I run into on the way.
If it’s a friend I walk and talk with him/her towards the classroom or the canteen. I order a Coke (or Pepsi) and my friend may casually ask me to get him/her one too. And if I have money on me, I do so.
We soon walk up to our class and sleep or somehow bear through the lecture, until it is soon lunch time. Mind you, by the time it is time for lunch, we have already decided on where we are going to eat today. It’s usually a new pasta place we haven’t gone to yet, or if it’s a pizza day, it is pizza at our favorite chain.
We ask hither and tither and tell them about the plan and invite them to join us in our quest. Some will choose to join another herd for the day: some because they have dates and then some for monetary issues.
But see, if you are a young adult, trying to stay up-to-date and in-touch with your social circle, you will do your best not to miss out on any “hangouts”. And like yours truly, you don’t and you shuffle through your wallet and scrunch up some money to go out and have “fun”.
What fun looks like: selfies of you and your friends in nice restaurants with nice lighting and nice poses.
Let me tell you what fun looks like though. It looks like the selfies of you with your friends all sitting around in a nice restaurant with nice lighting and nice poses with sarcastic captions and hashtags to go with them. If you miss out, you will wonder what the new hashtag means and be disappointed with your financial situation. But that’s okay, you can always go to the next one.
But here’s the thing though, if you miss out on enough of these “social gatherings”, your friends won’t stop talking to you or being friends with you or anything. They will, however, take it as a sign that you have done so. And soon enough, you will no longer be asked to join them. You will lose track of the inside jokes. No one will come up and talk to you, unless you go up and do so. Not because they hate you now, but because you no longer belong.
It pays to feel included, and it sure as hell pays to eat in a different restaurant 5 days a week.
Yes, it is of course a rather generalized view of our youth, but it is what our youth culture consists of. Think of all the hangouts you’ve been to throughout this year, and make a ratio with your social involvement.
I went to a trip with friends a few weeks ago, and it was amusing to me, how things played out there as well. I wouldn’t have been so uneasy about the money I had to spend there if I had an abundance of it, but I don’t. But I learned something very important from it; it pays to feel included. And it sure as hell pays to eat in a different restaurant more or less 5 days a week. The majority of my friends who can’t keep track of their money, let alone save up, have often spoken of how they spend their money eating out.
But at this point, you’d think, hey, maybe we just want to eat, it’s nothing to do with social involvement. And it is a very safe conclusion to draw that it isn’t. But tell me how many times you’ve gone out and eaten on your own. Or the number of times you cancelled on a plan because enough people weren’t involved.
But then, does that make us shallow and uncommendable as youth? Not really, it just makes us human. We all want to feel affiliated. No one craves loneliness. And so, we act on it. This is what you probably will spend the majority of your university life worrying about, even if you do a better job at earning than any of your forefathers did or had the chance to do.
We all want to feel affiliated. No one craves loneliness.
If you really think about what real social relations should be like, maybe, just maybe, we would start spending more time working on actual human connections; that just might be more worthwhile than running to the new burger joint and just skimming through the possibilities of social interactions.
I’ll be off to my monthly reunion in Baton Rouge now. It’s 800 buffet per person. Great offer if you ask me.