By: Natalie Gaviria
Natalie is from Cary, NC and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2016 where she studied social work. This year Natalie is working at the Peace Economy Project in St. Louis, MO.
I tend to want more than I actually need, and have had the ability to indulge in most things as I wish. Cue the classic privileged white girl narrative. It’s the "seduction of capitalism” enraptured by the feeling of wanting more combined with the fear of missing out. I've lived fairly simply in the past and I've shared smaller spaces with lots of different housemates. Transitioning to community living hasn't been difficult for me, but sharing finances in conjunction with a social justice job has made me think deeply about living simply.
I chose the Loretto year in order to practice mindfulness and be in community again. I feel most vibrant and alive when I'm in a new place with new community members. In some ways it feels like an experiment, meshing five strangers into a home, on the other hand it's a privilege. At any point in time I could not live by my stipend because I have money saved. At the end of the day I have the option of taking my car out. I have the option to buy ice cream, or a beer to treat myself after a long day. I’ve come to realize living simply isn't hard. It's merely a more conscious choice than I’ve previously been making.
So many people don't have the choice of living simply. Some are glamorized for it, such as the TV personas who own tiny houses for vacation, or sponsored athletes who live out of their cars, but still have all the latest gear. For many people poverty is an everyday reality. Queer and trans kids are kicked out of their homes, women and children flee from domestic violence, veterans and people with disabilities are not welcomed in many spaces. People experiencing housing insecurity, single parents, and people with other forms of marginalization don’t get to choose to live simply. That’s the key difference between living below the poverty line at Loretto vs. in ‘real life.’ A Choice. This year I’m hoping to sit with this choice more.
I went to a speaker recently, Van Jones, (a superstar human and activist) and he talked about always having privilege, therefore ‘blind spots,’ and conversely always having some forms of oppression, or ‘sore spots.’ He explained that it was our duty to take time for ourselves and heal our sore spots. When we’re in positions of power we must listen authentically to try and shrink our blind spots. A large blind spot of mine is linked to my socioeconomic status outside of Loretto and the ability to feel stable. I hope to shrink that spot by staying within my stipend, being intentional with my spending, and pushing back on the capitalist idea of always needing more. I already have everything I need and it’s time I start appreciating it.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.