On our last day in London I felt the urge to take the waters. And by that I don’t mean a New Year’s dip in the Thames or a dose of detoxifying tea, I mean a trip to Bluewater.
Oh Bluewater. My demon, my kryptonite. Free parking and a mile of all my favourite shops (and eateries… I’m looking at you, Krispy Kreme). I am a shopaholic to the bone, and when I first moved to South East London it definitely eased the transition to lands unknown. It always helps seeing a familiar face or two right? Dorothy, Jo, John… and Mango…
But, although living within reach of a shopoholic’s shangri-la definitely had its benefits, for me it was downright dangerous. It quickly became a crutch, a quick fix for whenever I was feeling bored or depressed. After a shit day at work I could be there in under twenty minutes (as long as the M25 wasn’t mangled!), skipping from shop to shop and swinging an armful of bags. For a couple of hours I was happier; my problems evaporated, temporarily… but then so did my money, and that wasn’t temporary. The problem was that there were a lot of shit days at work. I was in a job where I felt undervalued and ignored, and outside of work the death of a dear friend definitely took its toll on my emotional wellbeing. I was in denial about my spending and gradually, I accumulated a lot of crap that I really didn’t need. My bank balance took a hit and none of it made me any happier in the long run.
When we moved out of the flat back in October we somehow managed to fill a grand total of 52 boxes, which was a definite eye-opener as to how much clutter we’d managed to accumulate in 5 years and just how bad my senseless spending had got.
I know I’m not alone. We live in a society that is predominantly stuff-obsessed. When times are tough we comfort ourselves by filling our wardrobes and our homes with whatever manages to distract our attention from the darker, depressing side of life. We are a generation used to instant gratification. We buy on impulse, some of us don’t think to shop around for a better deal and very few of us actually save up for the things we want. And the blogosphere often doesn’t help; newsfeeds are a scrollable catalogue of pre-selected products, tried and tested by our peers. The bloggerati do the shopping, we do the spending.
This year I’m determined to spend less and live more, and part of that process is recognising when I’m spending out of emotional need rather than necessity. Shopping will always be something I enjoy, but senseless spending out of boredom or sadness isn’t healthy, for me or my bank account.
Instead, I want to spend my money on things that will take up cherished space in my mind and in picture frames rather than a dusty corner of my cupboard. Both travel and time spent with my favourite people are high on my list for 2016. I want to strive for a lasting happiness.
Of course there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional shopping trip, but instead of buying on a whim I’m going to wait and save up for the things that I’m lusting after and see if it turns into true love before I commit and buy 🙂