It’s just about cold enough for porridge today. Even though I’ve pulled on a t-shirt this morning, autumn is pricking at my bare arms and the wind brings that unmistakable scent, the one where summer starts to sigh and draw languidly to a close.
The pan lid tickers away, bubbles escaping from inside and the stovetop kettle waits, preparing itself for a whistle. My eyes flicker over to the countertop, remnants of packaging, colourful, now used, that arrived with yesterday’s post. I know that’s what I want to talk about today – because I’ve been buying things. Lots of things.
I’ve re-written this sentence 4 times now. I just can’t put into words the whirl of feelings that go along with what, to me, is excessive consumer behaviour. The delete key is getting a workout today! I think that I should feel shame, disappointment – but I just can’t quite get there.
I feel a little defiant at feeling that I have to explain myself. Looking out the window and sipping tea, I turn away from the screen and doodle on a pad.
“I shouldn’t have to explain myself” I write.
“Ok” I answer myself, “don’t”.
“Ok”, I write back.
And there, I feel I’ve reached the crux of it. Just because I started as a minimalism blog doesn’t mean I should feel ashamed for buying things. I have evolved, and again there is whole issue of having to be liked rearing its familiar head. “Stuff it” I think. I drink more tea. “Let’s talk about spending”.
I’ve grabbed a handful of knockoff Aldi veggie starmix ( I think they’re called Groovy’s…anyway, they’re great) to aid the thought process. I discover that BBCR6 is having an all day rave, so turn the volume up and chair rave to myself a little while. Do you find music helps you think? I’m on and off… mostly I find dance and metal music helps me get things in order in my brain.
Anyway, as usual, I digress. So. I’ve found as I sank into depression this year, I’ve been seeking out things that give me a buzz, a rush, some sort of feeling. And the thing I’ve seemed to fixate on is buying things, online shopping, that little thrill of a new item, a purchase. I’m sure there are many, many complicated reasons behind it. The way society equates new stuff with happiness? That having a disposable income is seen as a luxury and we should be buying as much as possible to advance forwards? The advertising staple that we deserve to treat ourselves?
Some of these messages play a part in it, I’m sure. But also, just having that small ability to buy a second hand dress on Ebay, or a lipstick on Depop, gives me some small comfort. I don’t think I’ve been spending because I want those new, shiny things. I’ve been spending to feel better.
The problem is, that small comfort lasts for a microsecond. The anticipation, the build up to clicking ‘buy’, that illicit purchasing behaviour that in the moment, makes me feel as if I’m in control… it’s gone in an instant. And in a few days, when the items turn up through the postbox, I feel a little sick, a worry. I’ve done it again. That chase for a thrill inevitable leads to a comedown, every time.
I worked my way through a ‘new’ (second-hand) wardrobe of clothes, and then worked my way through a whole rack of jewellery-making supplies. Following up on this, I worked my way through a cupboard full of new makeup that Nikkie Tutorials would be proud of. Not to mention the ‘reduced plants’ section that I talked about a few days ago. Each time, chasing that tiny buzz, just to feel, well, to feel something.
Long term, it doesn’t make me feel better. The thrill of buying things is always outweighed by a huge comedown. But there is an interesting trend that I’ve noticed, in that my spending is directly linked to my mood in that moment. Feeling down, sad or tired? I tend to find myself in front of EBay, clicking that PayPal button without even thinking. When I’m feeling happier, am focused on a hobby, being social or out and about, buying stuff isn’t even on my radar. Is this the same for anyone else? If you’ve ever experienced mental ill health, does your spending or consumption reflect this? If you haven’t, do you find that your mood can predict your purchasing behaviour?
It is what it is at the moment, though. I know that it’s all a journey, and I think I’m mostly aware of why I’m tending to spend more right now. So I’m letting it be what it is – something that’s a soothing behaviour, a chase of a pinprick of feeling. As I start to recover, I feel more in control of it, and aware that a lifestyle of simplicity was where I was happiest. I know I’ll get back there but am letting myself experience this journey without any guilt.
I’d love to open this discussion – does mood affect your spending habits? How do you feel afterwards? Please share, if you feel able, in the comments, and I’ll look forward to chatting.
(P.S. The image for this post is my idea of heaven though…just surrounded by books. Anyone else?!)