Outsider in My Own Country (Parts 12 & 13 of 13)

What it’s like to be different from most of my co-citizens in many ways

Jay Davidson
10 min readSep 5, 2022


12. Money, consumerism, and status

“Before you chase success, status, power, wealth, fame, or love, first fall in love with yourself — for the person you’ll be, if and when you get there, is still the same. Success will be a painful path and an empty trophy without self acceptance, self worth, or if littered with self hate.”

Rasheed Ogunlaru

As much as I love beautiful architecture, I don’t need to live in a fancy place in order to feel contentment. [photo by the author]

This section ties together a lot of thoughts that I expressed in previous ones, such as travel, gambling, car, and fashion.

When it comes to money, consumerism, materialism, status, advertising, and shopping, I am definitely out of the mainstream. It seems to me that many Americans care greatly about what others think of them, which is the driving force behind their having to own expensive clothing, houses, and cars. I am quite the opposite in that I don’t care what people think about these choices that I have made for my own life.

One of the keys to my perspective concerning finances has had to do with the concept of delayed gratification. When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I began collecting old stamps as a hobby. There was a stamp book in which I wanted to be able to place the stamps I had been collecting, and it cost $9.95, which, considering that it was around 1960, was a lot of money at that time.

My stepfather gave me an allowance of $.75 a week. I spent none of it so that I could save up to buy the stamp book. After thirteen weeks, I had $9.75, and needed only $.20 to make my purchase. (There was no sales tax in New York state at that time, so I didn’t need to factor that in.) I asked if I could have the remaining $.20 as an advance from the next week’s allowance, and he said no, that I would have to wait until the following week.

Not only has the theme of delayed gratification followed me since then, but I have also managed consistently to live beneath my means, eschewing the…



Jay Davidson

Retired teacher (San Francisco, 1969–2003); Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Mauritania, 2003–2005); public speaker, artist, writer, traveler, world citizen