Friday, 28 December 2012

Dear Diary: I'm a Material Girl

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. I decided to postpone posting by a day to enjoy spending time with my family. Of course, it didn't take long to have enough of that! (Just kidding, of course). Since my family loves shopping, we've been spending a lot of time at the outlets and shopping malls here in Florida, and I thought this would be an appropriate thing to post today, after we're all recovering from our post-consumerist binge.

I have a terrible, self-destructive tendency to go back and re-read old journal entries. It's something I always tell myself is a bad idea, and just like tequila shots and buying wrap dresses, I end up doing it anyway. 

There are a couple of standard reactions to re-reading my adolescent (or collegiate, or yesterday's) thoughts. 

1. Complete and utter self-loathing
2. That's it. 

If I'm not getting angry over how stupid I once was, I'm getting angry about how stupid I still am. Sometimes I'll read an entry and think "Wow. 20 year old me was so wise...why the hell am I still a mess?"

I came across this entry from March of last year:

"I've decided that I'm going to replace my love of boys with my love of stuff. Since only approximately half my love with be going towards things, I won't be entirely evil."

This is something that comes up a LOT in my diary entries. Not the desire to be rid of boy-drama (though it does--that's a post for another day), but my love of stuff, and the guilt that is associated with my love. In my journal entries, I frequently describe what I was wearing that day, or something that I bought, in relation to my mood. It makes me uncomfortable to admit how happy material things actually make me. 

But they do. Who doesn't love that rush when you're wearing a new outfit, or buying something coveted from the store? People who are better than me, probably. I get that rush just from seeing the things I own, even years later. For the longest time, seeing my frosty pink iPod mini (remember those?) would fill me with a rush of endorphins even an hour of cardio can't produce. 

I can't deny that aesthetics are important to me. I need my living space and my clothing to look like a reflection of myself, and my taste. As much as possible, I want to control the things I look at every day, and make sure I'm surrounded by those things that make me happy. I'm not sure if this is a bad thing, or merely a personality trait, but I do worry that my preoccupation with stuff is making me a bad example of a global citizen. I'm increasingly uncomfortable with how much waste our family produces, and the ease at which I can get rid of clothing and accessories I no longer like. A friend of mine directed me towards the Story of Stuff, which hasn't done much to ease my guilt. I completely understand that we are living in a disposable culture, and that's damaging in many ways. But it hasn't changed my buying/consumption patterns very much. 

So, what's the answer? I'm afraid I don't have one. I have a feeling that it is something along the lines of buying products that are higher quality, that will last longer, and are created by companies with more ethical practices. But that's definitely easier to say than to do. Especially as someone who, up until recently has been both a student and unemployed. 

The first step is probably to stop feeling guilty, as that's not going to help anyone. As for the second step? If you have any advice, please let me know! 


  1. Well I bought a sewing machine and I alter a lot of my old clothes into new things. Or I buy clothes from goodwill with cute patterns and alter them to fit me. I take classic looking dresses that are way too long and big and make them into mini dresses :) And I pass down a lot of my clothes to my little sister.

    As for the "Money doesn't buy happiness" DOES buy happiness.
    It does NOT buy joy.

    Happiness is just an emotion, and buying new cool stuff gives EVERY girl emotion. But joy is applied to your overall feeling about life. Don't feel guilty about being happy over material stuff. Just make sure that you stay JOYFUL without it. Make sure it doesn't rule your life.

  2. You're completely right. I do my best to recycle clothing and make sure my stuff gets passed on to people who will use it. I definitely need to improve my sewing ability in order to recycle stuff better!

  3. I struggle SO MUCH with this too!!! I actually blogged about it as well and went on a self-imposed shopping/buying ban for about a month and was relatively successful with it...but I still feel like I overconsume and have too much stuff.

    I've been wanting to increase experiences rather than buying, maybe I should add that to my 2013 resolutions!

    1. I totally want to increase experiences! I realized that while I don't care if I go out on a Friday night, my life feels empty when I'm not spending enough time exploring--so I want to spend less money on things I don't really care about, and more on the things I do!

      And a shopping ban doesn't sound like that bad of an idea!