My Wallet Became My Therapist

I love to shop... I love going to stores and walking through endless rows of clothes, accessories and shoes. I love going into dressing rooms and trying whatever pieces I've selected and playing dress up -either by myself or with friends. I love finding a new pair of shoes that I didn't know I needed until I saw it. I love the way I feel after when I leave the store knowing that I just bought something I liked. Yes, liked. Which is why the minute I get home, I feel guilty. I feel sort of confused as I watch all the bags that I've brought home with me and even a little dizzy when I look over at the packages that I've ordered online. Then I start asking myself the same question, every time: Why did I buy this? This usually led to the same answers: "You like it", "You were feeling bad about ____", "You wanted to treat yourself!" or my least favourite: "It was an impulse buy." Do you see the problem here? Because I do; it's crystal clear. I have a shopping problem.

I've always been an emotional buyer. Every time I'm feeling happy or sad, I have this pointless urge to go to the mall or walk around aimlessly through Target, waiting for something that I like to pop up and wait for it to miraculously validate or put a band-aid on whatever might be going on inside. If I was too busy to go outside, there's always the internet. Oh my God, the hours I've spent wandering, purposeless through the internet aisles in hopes I find something that would catch my eye. Here's the thing: For a very, very long time, I bought things I liked, not things I loved. I would spend money on things that would end up piling up in my apartment, not knowing what to do with them, so I would inevitably end up giving them to friends or family, wishing that this could help what now had turned into accumulated guilt. 

One day, I took a look around my room and started feeling suffocated, which made me feel anxious. I started going through everything, throwing out everything that was too old or beat up to donate and keeping only the items that I loved. The amount of things that I decided that no longer served any purpose in my life was embarrassingly big...As I categorized them, I felt like they were a reminder of all my purchasing mistakes. And they were. They are. It was good for me to see what my impulsiveness drove me to buy. After hours of trying my best to be like Marie Kondo, I decided my next move should be to tell my therapist what felt like my deepest, darkest secret. I was, and still am, so ashamed of my past decisions. With her help I realized something that I've known for a very long time but always seem to forget: obsessing over the past only makes things worse -not to be confused with the benefit of learning from one's past mistakes. I needed to move on and start thinking about ways I could be better. After all, all the money and time spent -literally- wasn't coming back. So that's what I tried to do, move on.

It wasn't easy at first; I had to constantly distract myself and spend less time on my laptop -which actually turned out to be a good thing. I un-followed retailers on social media, unsubscribed from newsletters and every time I left my house I would leave my credit card behind. Out of all of this, I think the latter one was the hardest due to my bad habit of never carrying cash with me. Other than that, the rest has been liberating... Just kidding, the first month was hard and the second month the hardest. But then you get the hang of it, I swear! You stop longing for everything that comes your way and everything that's in your cart -both in real life and online- in perspective. My heart still flutters as I walk through rows of clothes - especially when I see this season's trends- but now I just hold on tight to my cup of tea, take a breathe and think of a new hobby I could start, like pottery, abstract dancing or maybe even bird watching. Or when I really want to distract myself, I think about everything that's going on in the Senate as I'm typing this and I no longer feel like shopping. Whatever works for you.

Take my experience as a cautionary tale, Collegiettes, and make smarter decisions for your wallet's sake.