Is Capitalism Worth It?

Alexandra Tsuneta

The extremely difficult process of not living by Capitalist rules.

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These past few months in our new world have everybody questioning their lives, their decisions, and for a lot of us, our reality. From birth we are taught to live by certain ideals, this is what is called “human domestication”. We are born, we go to school, we graduate school and go to college, we meet a lover, we find a job, get married, have children, retire, and die. At least this is what we are told that we are supposed to do. However, these rules do not suit everybody, especially now, these rules are becoming obsolete.

We are also taught to want certain things and in order to get those things, we must work very, very hard. We must also spend money in order to have even the most basic of necessities like food, water, and shelter. I live in an affordable city and my rent still costs $13,200 a year, that’s $1100 a month, which comparatively, is extremely inexpensive for a house with a yard and a garage in a nice neighborhood. I spend $6,000 a year to “own” a car; I put “own” in quotations because I pay $350 a month for said car + $150 a month for insurance in order to drive said car. So, in fact, I do not own anything.

This is the reality for so many of us, we work to live, we spend money to feel comfortable and we do all of these things so naturally that we do not realize it is because we’ve been programmed to abide by these rules. These rules were set for us before we were born, people have been living by these rules forever. Capitalism tells you that if you don’t hustle every single second of the day then you are failing. Capitalism says that if we take breaks or if we self-care or if we just need some time to decompress then we’re not doing it right.

Reflecting on my life I can say that I have hustled. I’ve started two businesses, I haven’t worked for another person since I was twenty-two-years-old, I worked hard and I paid my way through college with no student loan debt. I can say that I am comfortable; in the house I pay too much for and the car that I don’t own, by all means, I am comfortable. However, is this what being comfortable is? Paying somebody else to be able to sleep in a bed or drive a car, because for some reason that I cannot explain, something has awoken in me and I’ve realized that this comfort is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Why have we all accepted that this is normal when it is anything but normal?

As I sat in the car wash the other day preparing to sell (read: get a few thousand dollars less than my loan amount and then pay off that loan) my car the cracks became so apparent that I began to cry. I do not own this car, this home, or even my business. I have debt on my business, I have a loan on this car, I pay off the phone every month. Until a few months ago I didn’t even own my Casper mattress, I was paying $59 a month to pay it off. I’m not comfortable at all, I’m living in another person’s house, driving the bank’s car, I’m paying the phone company to let me use this phone that, by the way, I treat like absolute shit. If it dies I have to pay $150 to even get a new phone that I won’t own.

All of the rules are not rules at all, they are constraints to keep us on this hamster-wheel of never-ending debt and faux-comfort. Why have we all accepted that this is normal when it is anything but normal? We’re slaves to pieces of paper with dead presidents on them. So many of us work jobs that we don’t even like to get paid a wage that isn’t even enough to live on. The government just stopped sending out unemployment to those impacted by COVID-19 because $600 a week was too much for the American people. $600 a week is $15 an hour for 40 hours of work. That’s the minimum wage in seven states.

Our own country treats us like pawns in this game; god forbid we get sick then we have hospital bill debt since so many of us can’t afford healthcare. Or, god forbid we want to better ourselves with higher education, then here comes that debt once again. I know barely anybody my age who owns a home, or a decent car or doesn’t have debt. It’s wild to me that these things were the norm for the generation that came before us. We’ve inherited an economy that is fucked, a government that hates us, and a life that is near-impossible without the ever constant hustle. There’s that word again: hustle.

Do you know the actual definition of the word “hustle”? This word that so many of us wear like a badge of honor means this:

To force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction.

And that my friends, is the most obvious and blatant example of the rules that are set for us; they are forcing us to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction. We’re almost unconsciously abiding by rules that were set for us by people unknown to us and when we escape those clutches, that is when we begin to wake up and reprogram.

What you were taught is wrong.

There is no specified direction for every single person on this planet. We are all unique, what fits one person may not fit another so how are we to believe that the only direction is forward when life is simply not linear? We learn, we make mistakes, we fuck up and we restart; and this will happen far more than one time in your life. There’s no linear direction to be forced towards. By forcing a bunch of triangles into square holes we’ll just destroy those gorgeous triangles. Every day we’re being destroyed by trying to abide by rules that simply do not make sense anymore; in fact, I don’t believe these rules ever did make sense.

Beginning to reprogram your mind is hard work, for the past week I have felt like I was falling into a pit of despair and depression. I had to log off for a few days, reconnect, refocus, and begin to piece together this world that was not built for me. For the record, I don’t think it was built for any of us. I wanted to travel, to be nomadic, to see the world, and to live by my own rules. Then I fell into a groove, a hustle, a forward momentum that, at thirty-years-old, has finally pushed me to my breaking point.

Maybe it’s quarantine or maybe it’s just that we’re all awakening to the fact that we’ve been pawns in a game that is overplayed. A game that is not benefitting anybody but the rare 1% of Americans at the tippy top of the ladder we are desperately climbing up. When we begged for help from our own government (by the way, they work for us) they pushed us aside and said we were not even worthy of living. 169,000 people have died and that number is rising by over 1000 people daily. How much more obvious can it be? Even as we desperately tried to stay home the government said that we must work, even if it means that we may die.

So we work to live, to pay rent to the person that owns the house, to pay the loan on the car that we enjoy driving, to pay for the phone that the company owns, and to chip away at the debt that is shackling us every step of the way. We work because it’s normal, it’s what we know, we have to keep moving or we’ll fail, right? No, that’s absolutely wrong and it’s time that we acknowledge that these rules are false, this life was not made to be wasted working every day, the small amount of money that we have doesn’t need to be given to banks, loan sharks, landlords, and other people who determine our fate.

Here’s the real secret: by living with less you gain so much more.

Here’s the thing, you can save that money and own something. For me, it meant selling all of my belongings and becoming nomadic. I bought an RV and renovated it, I’m selling the car along with all the other creature comforts that I thought I needed. It turns out you can live with a lot less than what you’re programmed to believe that you need, and here’s the real secret: by living with less you gain so much more.

By selling my belongings, my business, and my expensive vehicle I am able to pay off all of my debt (including my car loan) and still have a nest egg to bring with me on the road. I am going back to my roots of teaching children, this time with an online company, and I am living my dream of being able to travel and see the United States (a lot of which I have definitely not seen). By giving up the rules I have abided by almost my entire life I am learning to live life more fully, more authentically, and happily. Yes, it’s terrifying, but isn’t everything worth doing at least a little bit scary?

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At the end of the day, I’d rather be terrified and doing something I have always dreamed of doing vs. abiding by rules that were set for me by a society hell-bent on destroying the best of us. We should not be working to live, we should be able to live comfortably without spending all of our money on things that don’t belong to us. To your landlord, your boss, the bank, the debt collectors, even your utility companies you are disposable. If you’re not paying them or working for them somebody else will be. When you finally reach that point of realization it becomes so blatantly apparent that the life we are living and striving towards is truly not one that is as great as it appears.

Even if you make it to the next level of this game and you buy a home, you’ll be paying that mortgage for nearly the rest of your life. Wouldn’t you rather be doing something worth doing instead of constantly striving for more and getting less? To so many people being nomadic seems unattainable and I was one of those people until I realized that it is so attainable, and actually, it is far more attainable than paying rent on a home that will never be mine. People keep telling me they are jealous or they wish they could do what I am doing and I keep saying the same thing: this life is attainable, you can absolutely be doing what I am doing, it is not out of reach.

You may be scared and believe me, I am too, but if we aren’t taking chances, breaking away from the mold, and reprogramming our belief system then what are we truly doing? Are you happy living the life that you are living or do you believe true fulfillment will come later? Instead of waiting for fulfillment to come, grab the bull by the horns and take it. If not now, then when? Every day is a chance to make a change in your life and to truly become who you once wanted to be. If you’re like me, you lost sight of that person a long time ago, and if you’re like me you can absolutely find her again.

You simply have to get out there, take one step, and then another and before you know it you’ll be in a full-on sprint towards the next phase of your life. This life is attainable you just have to break free from the mold that you’ve been told you must fit. Remember, the rules you’ve been taught are made to be broken, life is not linear, and you can make a change whenever you damn well choose to. I can’t wait to see you out there.

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digital nomad | queer, Jewish, she/they | ☕️ | degrees in sociology and women’s studies

Bend, OR
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