Once upon a time, in my mid- twenties, I was a writer. I spent my days writing a book that I’d developed during uni, and I wrote for a comedy blog. To pay the rent, I worked nights in a restaurant.
When my partner lost his job, I stopped writing temporarily and started working full time in the job I’m currently in, to enable him some time to find a job he really liked. Intending to go back to writing once we were back on our feet, we instead decided that I’d stay in my job and we’d buy a brand new car on a whim. We booked a holiday to New York. We got engaged and planned our wedding. But we put the wedding on hold when we decided to buy a home. We started renovations, and booked more holidays to ‘get away from it all’, because my life became something I needed to get away from.
Whilst all this was going on, we spent (easily) thousands on furniture, clothes, beauty products, treats, takeaways, technology. Skipfuls of stuff. That’s what I swapped for my life of fun and fulfillment- sure I was broke but then, but I was also happy AF.
I was recently listening to the Minimalist podcasts where Dan Harris (if you’ve not heard of this guy, I urge you to Google him) said that when we buy, we want happiness, but what we actually get is excitement. Excitement for five minutes as your tear open your Christmas gifts, that buzz for a few hours when you charge up your new iPhone, the thrill of the first few days in your new home as the possibilities of life ahead stretch before you. But long term, does any of it actually make us happy?
In my own opinion- no. In actuality, the choices I’ve made over the past few years have made me unhappy. Sure I’ve had the initial high, but living a life on credit is very stressful and depressing. Buying and renovating a home with your other half forces your romantic relationship out the brand-new-triple-glazed window you’ve just fitted, and causes all sorts of drama as you both get pushed to your respective limits trying to hold down jobs, live in a building site and still function. And I’d always turn to buying clothes when I felt particularly shit about myself, therefore masking the fact that I was suffering from low self-esteem- which I hadn’t had the time or the energy to address.
Of course, we have to buy things. We need things to live. But what I wish I’d done was bought or spent about one third of what I actually did, and consumed more intentionally. I would have more options right now.
My best times over the past year costed little to nothing. The cups of tea I’ve nursed in the back garden with a blanket on my knees because summer in Belfast is still freezing. The walks on the beach with the dog. Spending time with family and friends. Lie-ins. Walking out of yoga class feeling on top of the world. Blogging again (writing is bae… lol). When our debt free journey is over, I’m not going back to where I was again. No more distractions, no more mindless consumption, no debt, no medication.
Who is with me?
Rachel Allene says
This speaks to my soul on a whole other level. I’ve been battling a harsh bout of depression lately, and have turned to my frenemy, Retail Therapy. In the end I just felt more depressed because the clothing I so excitedly purchased didn’t fit me, the junk food made me nauseated, the furniture just wasn’t a perfect fit, etc. All of this spending was with the awareness that I still have a car to pay off, and a hefty tax bill headed my way in April. The excitement quickly gives way to self-loathing. I’m with you. I need to stop the mindless consumption of goods I don’t even want the moment I bring them home.
And on the topic of medication: I recently decided to go off my Fibromyalgia meds. They were making me worse. It’s been a rough couple of weeks of withdrawal, but I feel like I’m finally coming out of the fog. This experience is renewing my desire to find other ways to cope with the pain. Meds and their side effects just aren’t worth it.
I’m totally with you with the meds, they are a nightmare and long term, can add to the problem rather than fixing it! That sounds like such a tough time so no wonder you have turned to spending. Really hope you don’t beat yourself up about it too much, I don’t know that I’d cope as well as you have in your situation!
That retail therapy lull really gets me too, I actually feel lower than I did before, when the excitement wears off. At the end of the day, if you don’t think you’re good enough without whatever you buy, you’ll never be good enough with it!
Thanks so much for your message, I think we are really in the same boat and it’s so nice to know I’m not alone in feeling like this. And I really hope you continue to feel better soon x
Rachel Allene says
I totally get what you mean. I feel so low once the excitement is gone, and just end up going through the agonizing process of returning what can be returned (often at cost of shipping, since most of my shopping is online) and finding new home(s) for what can’t.
I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and always enjoy what you have to say. Thank you for sharing your journey! You’re definitely a source of inspiration to me. 🙂