Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Five Days In

December 31st 2015:

I feel like I HAVE to shop. More than a simple desire, the pressure to buy feels immense. I want one last day of bliss. So after a dental appointment and some extra time thanks to my mother-in-law, I head to where my love of shopping all began: the thrift store.

Growing up there was a thrift store within walking distance to my house. My friend and I started browsing in it collecting random shirts from the boys section (my prized possession was a "Stay Alive in '95" DARE shirt). I never shopped otherwise, except for a birthday trip to Nordstrom with my mother each year. Usually I wore hand-me-downs from friends, jeans, and those thrifted boy tshirts. 

But then I got a job and a small amount of cash flow. So I started spending that money; as soon as it reached my checking account.
In college I started noticing trends more and jumped onto the trend bandwagon at UW in the fall of 2006: UGG boots, PINK sweatpants, North Face jacket and backpack. I had it all. 

I know, I rolled my eyes too.

It felt inauthentic. I wore the sweatpants on campus only one time and felt ridiculous. They were then reserved for sleep only. Everything else was used and used well, after all they were quality purchases. 

After that I made it a personal decision that if I liked a certain trend after a year of it coming out, then I felt comfortable making a purchase. Otherwise it felt confusing to distinguish whether I actually liked something or whether constant exposure to it swayed my views. 

So back to the thrift stores I went for many years. It became such a thrill to dig and dig week after week and find a complete treasure. I loved it and loved how much money I saved. But it took more time and work and sometimes you still spend money on things you shouldn't have. 

I have gotten better and better at thrifting over the years but it is by far my greatest weakness. The possibility of finding something always lulls me inside and then I inevitably find extra.
So on the 31st, I gave myself one last unnecessary trip.

I totally scored and felt quite smitten about it. However, that smug attitude encouraged me think about why I originally hopped on this cycle of buy!buy!buy! long ago. 

There is a certain delight in buying something.

We find thrill at a deal or the perfect shirt to round out our wardrobe. It feels like a hole is being filled and the stars align and angels sing. Because constant purchasing is so readily accepted and available, we fall in to the trap of an easy fix of joy. We like being happy and so we do what we know will take little work.

But I have felt moments of true joy (and I am sure you have too), they are the moments that make you smile as you fall asleep. The ones you stockpile in your memory when heaviness arrives. That memory of your baby dancing or when you felt those first flutters with someone you love. The moment where your entire family was laughing in hysterics or when you worked really hard at something and all the effort finally resulted in success. Those moments are so much stronger than the bits of joy that come with buying things. They are more powerful to pull us from the grasps sadness and anger. They are worth more, they weigh more, they ARE more!

They are also more work. They require our time and our energy. They demand taking time at the end of the day to notice the good in your life. With a constant stream of Netflix and social media this gets harder and harder to do. We think more about the grass on the other side or just check out completely. 

In order to do this no buying challenge right, it feels necessary to practice more gratitude for what I have. To take the time and effort to be in those moments and to realize that nothing in the store can match the worth of what extends beyond the grave.

 And that is what I have learned in the first 5 days.

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