Do you Ever Feel Guilty about doing “Bougie” Stuff?

by sarahgrand

In my “Why I Can’t Be a Foodie” post, I proclaim that, among other things, I am too cheap about food to be a foodie.

I wrote that post in early June 2016, before I started my new job in Manhattan.

My new job is located on 53rd Street and Avenue of the Americas. If you know anything about this area, you know that it’s filled with high rise office buildings and trendy fast-casual lunch spots.

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{Down the street from my office}

When I first started my new job, I figured I would bring my lunch from home pretty much every day. That’s what I did in college, and that’s what I did at my last job, which was in a residential part of Queens, where there were simply less food options.

I did bring my lunch from home almost every day…for the first week (that lasted long). Then, I started to indulge in the “fast casual.”

For those of you who don’t know, fast casual spots exist on the spectrum somewhere between fast food joints and full-blown restaurants. I’m talking Dig Inn, Chipotle, and Pret. You feel me? Generally, these places are perceived as “higher quality” and “healthier” than their traditional fast-food counterparts (though who knows if this perception has any actual merit…could just all be marketing…can talk about that in another post). Also, they’re usually a rip.

So, anyways, I was bringing my lunch from home, and suddenly my lifeless sandwiches wrapped in plastic wrap started looking really unfulfilling compared to, I don’t know, LITERALLY EVERYTHING my coworkers were brining into the office from the outside world around noon. I started to go against my old beliefs and become less cheap about food; I began joining them on their treks to the land of chopped salads, burrito bowls, and recycled cardboard containers filled with organic-looking grains and greens and meats.

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{DIG INN = LIFE}

Today, I’d say I buy my lunch half the days, and bring it the other half.

There’s really nothing wrong with the current setup. There would be nothing wrong with me buying lunch every single day of the week. I have a job, and I can afford it. Plus, it’s not like I’m going to freakin Del Frisco’s steakhouse on the daily. Like I said before, I’m talking Dig Inn, Chipotle, and Pret. Yet, sometimes, when I’m on line at these lunch places, usually alongside a bunch of other yuppies, I feel a sudden pang of guilt, like “Who have I become?”

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I feel guilty about. Is it that I’m spending money on overpriced lunches I could easily prepare myself at home for cheaper? Or is it a lifestyle question— do I not feel comfortable becoming part of this crowd of twenty-somethings, working in Manhattan, buying their lunch at farm-to-table-esque places sometime between 12 and 2?

If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a lifestyle thing. I don’t think it’s just about the money. Because I suspect that, if I spent the same exact amount of money on food, but went to McDonald’s instead of Pret, or Taco Bell instead of Chipotle, or Halal Guys instead of Dig Inn, it wouldn’t feel as bad. Because these other places aren’t bougie.

There. I think I just pinpointed it. I sometimes feel guilty when I do bougie stuff. It’s not just when I buy lunch at these places my parents would probably never step foot in. I sometimes feel the same pang of guilt when I, say, purchase concert tickets, plan a trip with friends, go out to a trendy bar or club, order delivery, or take a cab or uber instead of the subway. Am I the only one who ever feels this way?

Why do I feel this way sometimes?

I think it has to do with the way I was brought up. As I hinted in my “Why I Can’t Be a Foodie” post, I grew up with very practical and unwasteful (is that even a word?) values. If my family could cook instead of go out, we cooked. If we could walk instead of take the subway, we walked. If we could make Halloween costumes instead of buy them, we made them. And I’m pretty sure my family never got delivery once during the entirety of my upbringing. We didn’t do these things necessarily just for cost savings. Making costumes oftentimes actually costs more than buying them. Purchasing cold cuts to make a sandwich oftentimes costs more than just buying a pre-prepped one. I guess it was just a…I don’t know, a way of life? Because of the way I was brought up, these days, whenever I do things that have an arguably cheaper, more practical, or more “blue collar” alternative, I feel a little bit bad.

Where to go from here:

My personal policy moving forward will be: “Bougie in Moderation.” I’m becoming more ok with treating myself and being a little bit wasteful every so often, so long as I can afford it. I mean, after all, the point of working hard is to enjoy your life, right? That being said, even if I do become filthy rich one day (can this happen please?), I hope to always stay grounded, down-to-earth, and only moderately bougie. Luckily, because of my values from childhood, I don’t think it will be hard for me to always maintain this balance.

Hope you enjoyed this one! On a related note, I think I’m going to do a post on “Why I Think McDonald’s is Going to Make a Comeback” soon.

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