It started at the beginning of this year. I was at a dinner party where I ran into a friend of a friend.
Her name is Kat. She is beautiful, thin, young and incredibly vapid.
She is of that generation that came out of learning to brand themselves for social networking and have parlayed that into marketing, PR and Networking careers.
I have never had a strong opinion of Kat, other than she was 3 degrees of separation. And she always says, “hello” to me in a very fabricated, genuine way.
After having one of the longest conversations I had ever experienced with her (10 minutes) at the dinner party, I realized that she isn’t all bad. But she IS a lot of bad. Bad for me, anyway. Bad for my soul (wait? Too dramatic). Well, you get it. Bad in a way that left me feeling like there was still a residue from our conversation. A sentence without a period.
What was gnawing at me? It wasn’t jealousy (though for the low hanging fruit pickers, that would be obvi but untrue). I didn’t want to BE her because I like more parts to my personality than she has hair on her head (she has beautiful, brown flowing locks). There was nothing about her that I found particularly interesting, funny or creative. And yet, one day, out of sheer boredom on facebook, I wound up at her page.
I noticed that on a recent trip to NY, she had posted a photo of the contents (carefully art-designed, naturally) of her carry-on bag.
Among the various items of makeup, scarves, lotions, her phone and her camera, was a pair of headphones. They jumped out at me on the page. Was it my insatiable consumeristic nature? Was it the part of me that loves those “What’s in Your Bag” features of many beauty haul blogs on youtube? Or was it the ACTUAL beauty of these headphones (sometimes headphones are, afterall, just headphones)?
It WAS the headphones. But it was so much more. It was that with very little effort (or so it appeared), she had so many things at her fingertips which were a struggle for me to achieve.
The headphones represented the disparities in our lives. It was quite literally, a snapshot into her easy life.
There, I guess it WAS more than the headphones and a little jealousy.
Kat’s appeal; her mystery, was that she felt like everything that happened to her, came to her, fell into her lap, was HERS. She willed it. Or wanted it, then willed it.
Either way, I found that although, yes, she came from privilege, she wasn’t a brat.
She was just entitled.
The world gave her a lot when she was born. But she continued to expect a lot – with a smile.
And she got it.
These headphones had been a gift. Probably swag. Everything in that photo was simple, but purposeful. Her knowledge of branding was to be envied. She had created a cult of the anti-personality. And it was working! Everything was working for her!
I looked in the mirror that morning.
Were things working for me? And if not, why not?
What could I do differently?
If I could take one ounce of the Kat Koolaid and apply it to my own life, how differently would things turn out?
I was going to make this year: The Katification of Me!
I had never been too materialistic, save for perfume and hair products.
I didn’t want to become like Kat, I only wanted to create a a playing field where I wouldn’t just secretly covet things or lifestyles of others, but rather, I would find a way to have them or create them for myself, while still being me.
It’s strange when you change the narrative of your own story.
Once I started creating a list of things I wanted, I realized that some items weren’t really that important to me.
A dupe might work here, or the real thing there.
I found that craving some materialistic objects made me happy and made me buy a lot less crap. Like when you eat really good gelato rather than light ice cream. It does the satiation trick.
Some things fell of the list really fast, like wouldn’t you know it – the headphones which had started this whole thing! I ended up getting a pair I love for a fraction of the cost.
Some items are still on the list because I still WANT them even after months and months of deliberating if I NEED them.
I wasn’t coveting anything or anyone else’s life anymore.
Funny thing was…I hadn’t even known that I HAD been until it stopped. Weird.
Who knew that a casual acquaintance would help me start to truly love my life and be grateful? Be grateful for what I already have, be grateful for what I want to have, even if it never reaches me.
Be grateful I live in a time and place where for me, this is possible. And also, not to be so quick to judge someone’s place in my life. The lesson was quite loud.
I have run into Kat a few times since then. She has no idea. I doubt she would care about the impact this experiment had on me, if I were to tell her.
But who knows? She might surprise me. The power of Katification has shown me that anything is possible!