It can happen to any of us. Well, maybe not ALL of us, but definitely anyone who is a compulsive, addicted shopper! There I was, at the beginning of the summer, enjoying my morning coffee while scrolling through Facebook. The sun was shining, I was happy….I was even happy to be happy. My intent that morning was not to shop, but things quickly turned!
Let me pause here a moment to explain to you that I do not post much on Facebook…an updated picture of my kids here and there, or a special event, but mostly I just look at what others post and click “like” or “love” and sometimes write a short comment. I can absolutely live without Facebook and go days without “checking in” to see what’s happening in everyone else’s lives. I should have stayed off on this particular day!
As I casually scrolled through the posts, I abruptly stopped on a picture that a friend had posted during her recent vacation somewhere incredible. This wasn’t one of my close friends…this was someone who I saw a few times a year and always felt insecure around. This insecurity was my problem, not hers…but she has always been someone I just couldn’t help comparing myself to. My therapist has told me many times “When you Compare you Despair”, but at that moment I was not listening.
Of course my friend looked great in the photo, and I could not help but notice her designer handbag. It wasn’t just a simple classic designer bag. It was a large bold bright pink Chanel bag. In my head I thought, “Look at her! Not only can she afford a Chanel bag, but she purchased a color besides black. Her bag was unique and likely a super expensive, special, limited edition Chanel bag!”
I do own a couple of Chanel bags that I purchased years ago. They are black and white and I still love them and use them a lot. But at that moment I will admit I was jealous. I knew that I would see this friend at an upcoming party over the summer and I too wanted to wear a fabulous designer bag. The bags I already owned did not seem “good enough”. I needed to have a handbag more spectacular than hers.
My mind starting racing and I could feel the adrenaline building inside me. All the shopping control and mindfulness that I had been balancing so well was quickly caving in. I wanted a bag to top hers….and I knew a Hermes Birkin was the answer!
Of course, I also knew that I could not afford a new Birkin..that just wasn’t happening. But I didn’t need a new one…any Birkin bag would be spectacular. So I quickly began scouring TheRealReal and Tradesy. It was so much fun narrowing down which style and color I wanted. Blue, Rose, Black, Tan…the choices for pre-owned Hermes bags was tremendous. The prices were tremendous too. I finally settled on a beige color with gold toned hardware…a bag that I felt would be practical since it was neutral and could be worn in every season. The fact that I would use it a lot seemed to justify the steep price.
The only problem was that it was $8000. I did not have $8000.
One side of my brain screamed “Hey, you can’t afford this and even if you had $8000, would you really want to spend it on this one bag?” The other half of my brain interjected “You need this bag. If you wear this bag to the party, you will feel great! If you don’t get this bag then you are going to see her waving around her latest designer bag, looking all stylish, and you will regret not snatching up this great bag! After all, $8000 is a very reasonable price for a Birkin!”
I was so torn. How could I purchase this bag? Where could I get the money? Then I noticed that Tradesy was affiliated with a plan called Affirm. All I had to do was fill out some simple information and they would tell me how much money Affirm would immediately “loan” me. I clicked away and it was determined I could get exactly enough to purchase the bag. In fact, it showed that I could buy this bag and my monthly payment would only be $147! I pushed aside the thought of the 30% interest rate they would charge...all I focused on was that I could afford $147 each month.
My finger hovered above that checkout button. The two sides of my brain were battling back and forth. Did I really want to be in more debt? For how long would this bag make me feel special? Why was I doing this?
I suddenly knew that Birkin was not the answer and with my heart pounding I clicked out of the webpage, shut the computer and walked away. I did not need a Birkin. I did not really even want a Birkin. What I really wanted was to not feel “inferior” the next time I saw this friend. Instead of shopping for self confidence, I needed to start recognizing all the things that were great about me…not just great about the things I owned.
Since that early summer day, I began to truly focus on not just “mindful shopping”, but also on building my self-esteem. Being a shopaholic has hurt my confidence through the years by making me feel abnormal, irresponsible, hopeless, and a failure. I was no longer that person anymore and furthermore, even when I was at my worse, I was still not any of those terrible labels that I put on myself. I could not now, after all I’ve learned, allow myself to believe that I am not just as good as anyone else. Sure, I make mistakes and there are still many things I’d like to improve on, but I do like who I am. I really do like me. It’s okay not to be perfect and still love yourself!
I did wind up seeing my fabulous friend at the end of the summer. By then, the Birkin bag was a fuzzy memory and my self confidence had continued to grow throughout the summer. I can tell you honestly that I had a great time at the party and for the first time ever I did not compare myself to any other person who was there. I just had fun! And you know what? I never even noticed what handbag she was wearing!