My addiction to shopping has waxed and waned over the years. There are times when I’ve been too busy working to go into stores and be tempted to buy things, or I’ve been relatively content in my life so that when I did wander into a store, I could leave empty handed and not feel anxious. Those are good times.
Then there are the bad times, when I’ve found myself shopping to make myself feel better, because I’ve hated my relationship, or my job, or was anxious about something. I’m an expert at rationalizing purchases in those moments – but once the item is home, the guilt takes over and I’ll leave it in the bag for weeks, price tags on, thinking maybe I’ll return it. Sometimes I do, other times I don’t.
I was especially prone to shopping when I hated my job, and it was a vicious cycle – I had disposable income from a job that made me miserable, so I compulsively shopped because what the hell was I working for if not to make money so I could buy stuff for my amusement? Eight hours of my day were spent being unhappy, so I felt I deserved that cute new skirt or lipstick or pile of books or household item to reward myself, right? And in the initial flash of buying and wearing or using something new, it really did make me happy. Briefly happy, but happy. And so an addiction was born.
When I finally pursued my dream of being an actress full time, I knew my spending had to change. Being an actress means being self employed, which means unpredictable paychecks. Sometimes the money is great – REALLY great – like “I can’t believe I’m getting paid to have this much fun and making this much an hour” great. And sometimes it’s…well, not there at all. And you’re not sure when it will be there.
The beauty of the whole arrangement is that because I’m so much happier in my work, my desire to buy stuff has relaxed considerably. But in the difficult times – like when I don’t have any work – I start seeking comfort in my old familiar ways. Only now, it’s worse, because I no longer have the income to back it up.
Right now, I am working on a show, but last month I didn’t have any work, so financially I am behind. And I won’t lie – things are really tough in our household right now. I have had to delve into my savings for a few months in a row just to make minimum payments on bills. I am watching my nest egg dwindle and it scares me, because there will hit a point where I will have to make some tough decisions about my career, and whether or not I can continue to pursue my dream. It keeps me up at night.
So in a way, this whole idea of finding my lagom is coming at an opportune time. To find my lagom, I need to find what is enough, which in most areas, will likely mean living with less. Which means less shopping. Which means less money spent on stuff I didn’t really need in the first place. While I feel fairly ready to get rid of things I already own, the bigger challenge in this journey may be about not acquiring anything else. So maybe being too broke to buy anything will help me in this process.
Will finding my lagom where my stuff is concerned result in the money I make being lagom as well? I’m curious to find out.
What about you? Do you ever buy things to make yourself feel better? And if so, what do you buy?