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The Great American Escape: For My Futuro - Antonio Thomas, 22

We're programed to buy stuff! Almost like robots, because we do it automatically without thinking! The American dream is not what we think it is, at least from our American economy’s perspective. My Economics professor blew my mind away when he had us watch a 20-minute video called “The Story of Stuff”. YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT! This was life changing for me! I see the world and everything in it so differently. At 16 minutes the video showed a wheel. This wheel represents what keeps our American economy running smoothly. Its foundation is centered on us, all of us buying stuff. It’s a simple cycle that consists of working, watching TV (and Instagram), and shopping. It got my mind spinning and making connections that I couldn't figure out in my head before.

Why and how we buy stuff is what made so much sense to me. We buy stuff for status, to keep up with Joneses, to wear what is supposedly in season, because we’re bored, and to feel good. I’ve heard people call it shop therapy (lol). I’m not talking about buying with actual purpose or real need. I’m talking about buying for no real reason, because it’s on “sale”, or because we think that it will make us feel happy. It does, but always short-term, while paying log-term costs. When we watch TV (and Instagram), we compare ourselves to others and focus on what’s missing. We're swamped with seeing what others are doing, where they’re going, what they’re wearing, or what product they're using. Everything is a commercial. Then we buy, buy more of what we don't need, with no real purpose, and no real lasting effects worth anything.

The American economy, our credit cards, and corporate America continue to collect profits while we simply go to work only to repeat this infinite cycle that keeps us in a blind and automatic mode. It's a perfect system for them (whoever they are), but what about us? What about mi futuro? The good news is that our economy is stable. The bad news is that most people will continue to stay broke and artificially "happy". It made sense why so many business models are based on “free”. This allows commercials and adds to get to the masses (us)! And it’s around the clock, always, and everywhere. This is just part of our American culture. It always has been and always will be.

Honestly, I thought of my parents when I saw the cycle, then my friends, but then slowly looked at myself. I was so mad and seriously annoyed, but it's the truth. I’ve always been a YOLO type of person, but it’s definitely changing to mean something so different. This is what I realize. I don't want my life today, my futuro, or my happiness to be based on “stuff”. I am determined to save my money. I am determined to not waste my money on dumb stuff. Now I know why I can work so many hours and not have much left at the end of the month. No more fine print late “fees”! No more buying stuff for no reason, and no more overloading my life with something that I already have plenty of. No more buying into what others have, or what others tell me I need in my life to be happy. I am determined to get my credit cards to zero. I will spend my money on things, people, and places with real value. I will live a good life today, but not on a blind and automatic mode that keep me spinning on the wheel of no prosperity. I will be smart with my money. I want to build my own wealth and live with purpose to prepare for my futuro.

~ Antonio Thomas, 22

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