I’m almost a year into minimalism and I’ve discovered something about myself: I’m a compulsive shopper.
In a way, I always knew I was a compulsive shopper. When I was young, I didn’t feel satisfied leaving a store without something. Something new to call my own. I’ve been trying to understand where this comes from. Am I afraid of not having enough? Am I afraid the perfect thing will never exist again? I haven’t figured out the origin of my impulse. I just know it’s there.
In the moments I feel insecure, I feel the need for a new wardrobe. When I know I have people coming over, the compulsive shopper in me says I need to redecorate. I’ve felt the need to reinvent myself often. When I started this blog, I felt the need to buy everything I’ve seen on Pinterest to create an inspired office space. When I took a look at my budget, I was forced to use what I had. I brought in my second-hand, outdoor cafe table, stole a chair from my living room, and moved my indoor trees to the corner of my designated creative space that used to be the dining room I “needed” but never used. This is the first time I realized I don’t need much of anything.
I know I have what I need, but there’s always that voice, that little compulsive shopper voice that tells me it’s not enough or not good enough. This translates into feeling like I’m not good enough. I love putting labels on myself. I don’t love it, but my inner voice has so much fun categorizing the world and finding the places I fit in. Am I pretty? Am I sophisticated? But what kind of pretty and sophisticated? I’m lazy, not very wealthy, and I can get real frumpy real fast. It’s self deprecation disguised as “being realistic about how the world views me.” So I shop. I make the list of things I need to fit into the right categories and I let the compulsive shopper in me take the wheel.
It’s not wrong to want nice things, but it is wrong to tell yourself you are only as nice as your things.
There are so many things that trigger my compulsive shopper impulse, but I’d say the biggest one is my inability to admire with out desire. Scrolling through social media has put the biggest lump in my stomach. I hate to admit that I’m the jealous type, but in recent years I’ve begun to discover that about myself. Learning to admire without desire, to me, means to appreciate what other people have without feeling like you need it for yourself. Seeing a fellow instagrammer share their workout outfit, liking it, and realizing that it’s okay that you don’t have cute work-out clothes because you just denounced working out. Up until recently, this would give me a hunger to shop. A need to spend money on things I don’t need so I can look as good as the people on my feed.
Comparison is the number one killer of individuality and I’ve been murdering mine over and over again for years. Loosing myself in who other people are and forgetting everything I am.
Minimalism was intimidating to me at first. I went into it avoiding the fact that a day would come where I’d have to face the compulsive shopper in me. I’ve always known that I come from a long line of addicts, but it’s taken me years to realize that addicts are not defined by their consumption. They are defined by the inability to find worth within themselves. Constantly seeking outside means to fill the void only they can fill. Most fail to realize this and they pour into work, alcohol, drugs, consumer products, etc.
This is a category I refuse to fall into.
Inspired by the book, The Year of Less, I’ve decided to start with 6 months of no shopping. 6 months of loving myself for myself, not the things I own. I know I don’t need more things, but I do need more intentional moments. I need to learn how to appreciate what I have and be happy with just me. Not me who owns and says all the right things. Just me.
Photo by Alexandra Gorn