The Struggles are Real

Just the other day, I was joking about how my iPhone 6 was just too big to fit into my pocket. My cousin replied, “Well, I don’t pity you when your problems involve an iPhone. That’s nothing. SO good luck with your problem.”

Photo ©2014 by  download.net.pl [CC BY-ND 2.0]
Photo ©2014 by
download.net.pl [CC BY-ND 2.0]
That had me thinking. I subconsciously complain about the littlest things.

Honestly, I know how lucky I am, but sometimes it gets lost in my expectations. There are others who have to deal with much worse, like no food, shelter, or water, or 3rd world problems. Problems that originate from countries that aren’t fully developed and are many times corrupt.

My problem is labeled a 1st world problem. It’s commonly associated with unappreciative people who complain about their luxuries. When comparing the two, the 1st world problem is reduced to nothing.

Whether you believe this or not, most of what we have are luxuries. We don’t need all this technology to live, but we have it because we’re privileged with all the advancements. The computer you’re using to read this? The internet that you complain about constantly because it always seems to break down at the worst times? The phone you have, no matter what brand or model it is? All luxuries.

We consider them basic necessities because we’ve always had them. They’re integrated into our lifestyle, so we don’t think much of them. We just have to have them. Just in case we need to look something up when we’re not at home. Or when we need to call someone to pick us up. Or just take pictures of those special moments you want to keep and remember forever.

We take them for granted, but back around the 1920s, food and water were scarce, nevertheless, technology and luxuries.

Photo ©2008 by  drmvm1 [CC BY-ND 2.0]
Photo ©2008 by
drmvm1 [CC BY-ND 2.0]
Grapes of Wrath is a prime example of how the bare necessities are sometimes not even available. Although it’s not a 1st world problem because it takes place in America, the Joad family still faces problems with food, water, shelter, and even family.

Food is often insufficient in filling up the family. Fried dough is a common source of food for the desperate Joads while meat seemed to be a luxury because of its pricing.

Drinking water wasn’t abundant while on the road, nevertheless, the usage toilets and showers for hygiene. The Joads have lived a while without these hygienic stations, which is seen when Ruthie and Winfield are bewildered by a flushing toilet at a camp on the side of the road. Can you image never going without showering or flushing toilets? Everywhere we go, from public institutions to home, there is a bathroom waiting for us.

Photo ©2011 by  U.S. Department of Agriculture [CC BY 2.0]
Photo ©2011 by
U.S. Department of Agriculture [CC BY 2.0]
Shelter wise, the Joads often pulled over on the side of the road and slept in tents and on the mattresses they hauled all the way from Oklahoma. There wasn’t air conditioning for those hot nights, or heat for those bitter cold ones. Instead, the families endured all they could with just blankets, a couple mattresses, and a tent. We come home to a nice clean mattress within an insulated house that protects us from nature’s elements.

When you don’t have the necessities, you at least have family. But for the Joads, their family started slowly falling apart. Grandpa and Grandma die on the trip. Casey protects the Joads by taking the blame for a fight. Connie leaves to pursue his career, leaving behind his pregnant wife and his family. Tom reluctantly leaves to avoid complications that would endanger his family. Al leaves his family for a girl. Slowly, the family was whittled down, and not many were left by the end of the novel. Sad how they seemed so readily able to leave their family for a future they perceived to be better. These are the times where I feel like I should go out and thank my family and friends for always being there to support me and help me through everything. I wouldn’t be where I was without my family and friends and I wouldn’t be the same person.

So despite living in America, the country of freedom, the Joads live a poor life on the road. So, try and be more appreciative and positive about what you have! Sometimes, it’s hard to remember, I know I find it hard to remember. But if you can, be positive because positivity is contagious. And who knows, maybe you’ll make someone’s day better by being positive! My goal as of late is to spread positivity because it is better for me and those around me!

-Mary

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