Aren’t You Over Trying to “Keep up With the Joneses?”

In the third article of this 4 part miniseries, Florida-based superwoman Nida Siddiq tackles materialism and the damaging desire for portraying a certain image of one’s life that may not be based on reality. 

Growing up and up until present day, I have been a part of what I think is a pretty “elite” Desi-Pakistani community. Since we were babies, most of us were dressed up in poofy dresses, headbands, and jewelry. We were taught to walk, talk, eat, and behave in a certain manner. To some degree, these things would be considered etiquette, but in actuality it was our parents way of ensuring that we portrayed a certain image: that my family is perfect.

I now realize that this is how we are raising our children as well.

Some may or may not agree to this, but I for one, fall into this category. Maybe in the ’90’s it may not have been such a big deal as it is now, because the birth of social media has drastically changed things. Now, most of us eat at fancy places, wear trendy clothes, throw lavish parties, and travel all over the world, all to share with society and social media: “Look! I’m doing well, my life is perfect, and I can afford it!”

Yes, some people may genuinely do it for the happiness of their children, BUT, how many kids REALLY care about a grand party, with dessert spreads and a live band? Kids are happy with their friends, a pool, and cake. They enjoy the simple things in life. It’s us parents that make everything more lavish. Sometimes, we tend to do it for our happiness and image, more so than for what our children actually requested.

My husband and I have thrown our fair share of lavish parties, and I’m sure we still will in the future. So all of this is advice I’m offering myself before anyone else. But now, it just seems like these parties are thrown to keep up with society and their expectations.

No one knows the true hardships and stories of each individual.

It’s important to remember our outward appearances are not always what they seem. “Keeping up with the Joneses” can be a dangerous approach to life. Efforts to please society and to create this false lifestyle for yourself may even lead you to financial hardships. This has become more evident as people constantly post photos, videos, and status updates on social media. But a lot of what you see is an illusion; you are only shown what people want you to see. No one knows the true hardships and stories of each individual.

Does anyone remember the show Gossip Girl? The lives of privileged — but dysfunctional — friends? Well, as far as I’m concerned, our Desi community is similar to that show and the lifestyle it promoted, minus a few things here and there.

People tend to think the materialistic way of life is more common in places like the Middle East. But after living in Dubai for a year, I can honestly say it’s not only there. Most Desi communities in America are trying to “Keep up With the Joneses” by defining their worth on the basis of what they posses.

It’s sad to see this, as I know it will affect how our children turn out. Why not try to teach our children and ourselves that life is not all about attaining materialistic items, and entertaining ourselves with iPhones, Xboxes, and PlayStations? Why not teach them that it’s actually about giving and helping others? You will never be completely satisfied with attaining materialistic things, but your heart will ALWAYS be full when you help someone in need.