Every Saturday when I was growing up me and my mom would hop into her Thunderbird and we would go shopping. This was really the only bonding activity we would do together. We didn’t have any other hobbies other than shopping. My mom loved to shop, mostly for clothes. She would take me along and I would shop right along with her. She would basically buy me whatever I wanted. I would try on clothes and just put whatever I liked into the cart and it would be mine. I think it was hard for her to say no because she worked so much that she was hardly at home and this was her way for making up for lost time. Maybe not but I like to think so. We would shop ALL DAY LONG, literally, going from one store to another, spending HOURS perusing the aisles and in fitting rooms. Sometimes we would be gone from 8am until 10pm, coming home with a trunk full of shopping bags.
This is where my obsession with shopping came from and I became a full blown shopaholic. It was comfortable for me. It’s what I knew and it was what I did. As I got older it got worse, I loved to shop and could not stop myself! Even after moving out on my own the way I spent time with my mom was by going shopping with her. These shopping adventures would go on throughout my years in college and even beyond. It was how we spent time together.
One of my good friends throughout college was also a shopaholic like me. We worked at the same place so we spent a lot of time together and one of our favorite things to do was to go shopping. It was literally like a game for us. Boy did we love shopping. We were making good money and would go to the mall on our days off and just shop shop shop throwing caution to the wind! We seriously bought whatever floated our boat that day.
We would roll up into Victorias Secret every week like ballers and all the ladies who worked there knew us on a first name basis. If we didn’t show up for a week they would call us to see when we would be back in because they had a bunch of “new stuff” to show us. We bought lipsticks in colors we never ever wore, we bought lingerie because it was “pretty” and we bought every single fragrance of body lotion they carried because we just had to have them all. I even bought my laundry detergent there?!? It was literally hundreds of dollars every time I walked through that store.
One time me and this girlfriend took a road trip across the border to Mexico to go shopping. We spent the entire day in Nuevo Laredo going from shop to shop, drinking Coronas, and buying every cheesy souvenir we could. I think I even bought my dog a sombrero. It was like a challenge to see who could buy the most ridiculous amount of stuff. I think it was a tie. We literally filled up the back of her SUV to the top with bags of “stuff”. Thankfully we had brought a guy friend along with us to help carry all of our bags in the hot Mexican heat.
This continued for many years, the mindless shopping excursions. Going shopping was my hobby, something to do anytime I wanted. I didn’t need one thing that I purchased, I just bought stuff I wanted and liked. I had money so I thought I had to spend it. I was the epitome of a material girl. I yearned for that rush of joy as I found things I just couldn’t live without and then the unpacking of all the bags when I got home was always a thrill.
But then that thrill started dissipating and I realized it was just a temporary high and all I was left with was a closet full of clothes with the tags still on them and hundreds of shoes I’d never worn. It all began to feel empty. I’d start wondering where the time went, wasting an entire day fighting crowds of people in search of the best sales week after week. It started to seem so pointless to me. But I still went because I had nothing else to do.
Once I met my husband the days of spending 10 hours shopping a day were slowly phasing out as I now had other responsibilities and was busy getting courted and falling in love! This in conjunction with a sort of spiritual awakening made me start to think about “things” differently. I would look around at all my possessions and think “why do I have all this stuff?!” so I slowly started minimizing.
It was surprisingly refreshing to get rid of stuff, I actually liked going through and seeing how much I could stuff into bags and boxes to donate. I read a lot of books about simplifying your life like Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” and I was hooked. I was starting to wake up to the reality that no amount of stuff could make me any happier. In fact the opposite was true, the less I had the happier I felt! Such a contrary to what I was used to my entire life.
I was also studying Buddhism and the nuns at the monastery I went to talked about possessions and material things, how fleeting they are and that everything is impermanent. The whole concept of attachment was a cause of suffering and it was also a primary distraction to becoming enlightened. We cannot miss something if we never had it. It made me think more and more about this materialistic mindset in America and how much I did not want to keep getting caught up in this hamster wheel. What really excites me now is finding things in my home that are of no true value to me and being able to pass those things on to someone who can get value from them.
I now try to shop with intention, and if I do purchase something like a shirt I make sure to get rid of one I already have…or two or three. Now that’s not to say that I don’t fall off the wagon on occasion, it’s still hard to resist the temptations of consumerism from time to time. I try to stay away from those places of temptation and that seems to be the best cure. I can at least now recognize those moments of weakness and I pause and ask myself is this worth my life energy to purchase this?
Nowadays I would rather talk a walk in the woods or sit and watch the butterflies than to spend my time shopping. My time is my most precious resource and I now find things to fill that time that are meaningful and really do bring me joy. I try to keep only those things that add value to my life rather than suck the life and time out me. It’s a journey but a journey I’m excited to be taking.