Considering we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Belfast, you wouldn’t think we would be affected by Black Friday either. However, as I walked through Victoria Square yesterday, the shops were frantic with Black Friday pre-sales. Apparently, a pre-sale is a thing now. Who knew?
This year, on my debt free journey, Black Friday could have went one of two ways; I’d either use it to purchase a lot of stuff I wanted at a reduced price (which I may or may not need later on), or opt out completely.
I’m pleased to say I’ve chosen the latter. I will not be shopping. Not even a little bit. Simply, I don’t need anything right now. Choosing the former would be buying ‘stuff’ because it was ‘a bargain’. Therefore, regardless of the price reduction, would cost infinitely more than not buying something I wouldn’t have otherwise bought.
I have to admit, four months into my debt-free journey, Black Friday week (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one) has provoked my hardest struggle to keep focused on not purchasing impulsively and unnecessarily. So many ‘good deals’ out there. So many cute PJs- allowing me to imagine myself with a thick top-knot bun and a cosy blanket and not my usual pale faced, thin-haired ponytail in my already-owned and worn PJs. So many pretty dresses promising to take me from awkward and under-confident to pretty and statuesque. So many laptop deals- and if I bought one, I’d definitely write more and fulfill my creative side. I’d be the writer I always wanted to be.
Stuff used to be more than stuff to me; it promised to change my life, make me a better person. And when it didn’t, I convinced myself that, if I just had more stuff, then I’d be complete. It was the most vicious of circles.
The saddest part was that I subconsciously saw myself as the common denominator in the demise of everything I’d bought. I’d love the top I just bought, then when I wore it, I didn’t like it anymore and moved on to the next thing. I was the thing that ruined all of the other things. I had low self-esteem, and buying stuff made it worse, not better.
How many of us aimlessly walk around the shops, looking for things to buy without really considering what it is that we need? And can we even buy those needs? In my case, I could have bought the entire contents of Topshop, but what I really wanted was see myself as confident and happy. When I developed an obsession with Cath Kidston cups (I was a cat lady, without a cat), I wanted so desperately to sit and have a cup of tea with a quiet mind. Each and every non-consumable in my past tells a story of a girl who never really got the things she really, really wanted.
We spend some much time, money and energy in shops, buying trinkets for our homes, candles and cushions to make it cosier, Le Creuset cookware to serve up family meals, huge display canvases with a message we desire to embody. But the irony is, the craving for security, a happy family or the message we want to portray to the world, can never be bought. Those items only serve as a distraction from actually achieving those things.
So this year, I will be spending my free time on Black Friday relaxing with my partner, mum and dog, and going to a mindfulness session. You can’t buy happiness- it’s free.
My hope is that others join the movement and opt out. Let’s make Black Friday just Friday again.