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When I was a young girl, the stereotype that girls love to shop was commonplace, sexist as it sounds now. I was an exception to this accepted rule. I hated shopping. My parents were not poor, but they defined value differently than I did, and therefore we had divergent priorities. Basically, they saved for a vacation in the coming year whereas I focused more on the day-to-day in the form of fashion. In the stores, my mother hunted for bargains while I gravitated to something that would lift my self-esteem to compete with the girls in school who looked like teen magazine models. It was frustrating to see and touch things I couldn’t have, which zapped the fun out of shopping.

When I grew up and controlled my own money, I did indulge, but the external battle with my parents morphed into an internal struggle. Spending money on non-necessities may have given me a quick thrill but left me feeling somewhat guilty in the long run. I always felt I wanted what I couldn’t have even when I really could.

Much later in life, I began to realize how beneficial window shopping was. I suppose Amazon contributed to that notion. Having a wish list separate from the shopping cart is a great feature. Sometimes, what I wish for is not so appealing a few weeks later. Other times, I attempt to transfer an item from my wish list to my shopping cart only to be disappointed that the item is no longer available.

New products come on the market all the time, and impulse buying can be a good thing when items unexpectedly make an appearance that improve quality of life. After many trips with a cumbersome suitcase, I was elated to come across luggage with 4-wheel spinners. What a difference that makes! It wasn’t until I received a Kindle as a gift that I realized how much I love to read. I was not an avid reader growing up. Once it became electronic, all the inconveniences were removed. No longer did I need to carry around books or rush to finish before the library return date. I was finally able to read in the dark as a passenger on the long drive home. After years of shredding my skin along with the cheese and ginger I tried to prepare, I discovered the Microplane. I used to consider cooking a huge chore until I realized I simply didn’t have the right tools.

This got me thinking about how important it is to have the right tools unrelated to material objects; the mechanics of the mind. The mind is a powerful secret shopper when we allow it to explore and find what is a good fit; a good value. Peeking into the windows of our inner thoughts and filtering through the useless junk to find the jewels, we can find powerful implements that incite joy. With the right instrument, we are able to open the bottle of uneasiness, empty the contents, examine it objectively and assess the value or detriment to our well-being. When I feel agitated, I now know that creating something settles me down; writing, cooking, crocheting and possibly more to come. I was invited to a free session with a painting club, which I enjoyed. In the end, I decided that joining the club wasn’t for me, but the opportunity was a new utensil in my tool kit. I could have thrown it away or let it sit on my wish list until it was no longer available. Instead, I tried it out, and it helped me grow.

Shopping does not need to be a source of frustration, wanting what we can’t have. It can be a discovery process where we rethink what we want and what we need. Measuring value is a personal choice whether it’s the latest couture or the resources of the mind. I have uncovered the personal shopper in my head who revealed herself as a discerning individual who somehow manages to find the right fit. My wish list may be long, but my shopping cart contains what I need. I like to think that Mom would have been proud.