The holidays always make me want to write. What is it about Christmas and family time that seems to clarify so many thoughts? Nonetheless, I had a very eye-opening experience this past week. It started on Friday, the day before Christmas Eve when I was wildly running around for presents. Before going into the season I adamantly told myself this would be a very relaxed, minimal Christmas, yet here I was impulse buying things neither Scott nor myself wanted to cram into our house. It wasn’t until I was standing in Superstore did I look around and acknowledge the anxiety seeping from me. I was unhappy, and it was because I felt the need to buy. This need, to fill some void that we self-create, is so toxic, but we continuously fall into it. Why?
We all know I am fascinated by social media. The need to have people acknowledge and affirm one’s relationships, purchases, workout regime, and children is something I am continually trying to wrap my head around. I can’t tell you how many times I have deleted these apps only to come crawling back a few weeks later. It’s an addiction, really, and I wish we treated it like it is, but I digress. Lately, I have perused Instagram and seen that with Christmas comes the dreaded giveaway posts. I fall into this trap people; please don’t think I am immune to this. Just a week ago I spent 20 minutes liking and following a loop of people for products I wasn’t remotely interested in. I wasted precious holidays that I look forward to for quite some time so that I could shop for things I didn’t want or most likely wouldn’t get.
This is where self-awareness comes in and is desperately needed. This is where, while standing in the middle of Superstore looking at who knows what, I dropped the things I didn’t absolutely need and walked away. I drove straight to my parent’s house, held my niece, and thought that this is what I want in life. I left after a quick visit, met Scott at an old folk’s home where his grandma lives, sang Christmas songs with his family, and again thought to myself that this is what I want.
I don’t want the choker necklace, or the micro-bladed eyebrows, or the creepy lipstick that doesn’t seem to come off. So why the heck do I feel like I need to buy it? It’s social media. It’s the destructive social-powered machines that are telling you that you need to have a well-dressed toddler, do BBG workouts, and “eat clean” with the right things, and it is exhausting.
And this is the part where I address the mothers around me, because I will be one of you in the future (not an announcement), and I am terrified of the idea. The thought of joining your group gives me instant anxiety, and not because I will have an adorable red-haired baby. I am terrified because your group is the hardest of them all to keep up with. Your group seems simultaneously happy but unreachable all at the same time, and I am worried what will happen to me when I become one of you.
When did we need to start having a diaper bag that costs a middle-class worker’s daily pay? When did we need to get strollers that cost half of a paycheck? Who is saying that these are the best things out there to buy? And why are we believing them? I look at my life right now, and I know I won’t be able to afford to keep up with all of this, and that in part creates some feelings of failures. Even further, I know that I’m financially better off than some people who have these things, which, frankly, horrifies me.
Is having a certain life portrayed on Instagram and Facebook really making you happy? Are those 150 likes and 20 comments really your source of joy? I have started thinking about this. My need to show everyone that Scott and I are happy and to tell them what’s happening in my life. My need to show that I lost 5 pounds or that my hair is a new colour. To give monthly updates to strangers about my baby or pregnancy. To buy a new car, house, or living room set and remind everyone that I can use a plastic card at a checkout.
Whenever I’m unhappy, it’s usually because I have been swooped up into this notion that I am not enough and I do not have enough. So, I’ve done some research, and you’re welcome to join me in my future endeavors. I’ve started doing it a bit, and I can already see an improvement. Here’s what it is: every time I buy something, I ask myself the real reason I want it. The honest reason. For instance, I bought a turtleneck the other day, that I felt sort-of-partial to, and asked myself why I had done that. The answer I came to? I wanted people to see me as “sophisticated”. Ha! I’m still kicking myself over this. I bought something not because I loved it, but because I wanted to appear a certain way to a group of people, instead of just showing it through actions and words.
The other day I stood in Costco by a sectional, feeling anxious and unsettled, because I was worried the sets would be sold out. I had to buy the couch right then, I told myself, because I had waited 6 months for these couches to come back and today was the day I would buy it.
… Then I started thinking: we could really use some new winter tires on the car, and let’s be real, the washer is most likely going to go out in the next 6 months. I stopped and asked myself, “Will I be happy I bought this tomorrow? Why am I actually buying this?” I realized that the only reason I wanted the couch was because I had a certain colour scheme I wanted to achieve in our living room. It wasn’t because our couches at home were worn out (they’re 2 years old), it was because I saw a colour, I saw a deal, and I wanted people to walk into our house and think that it looked good. Again, not buying because of necessity, buying because of social pressures I’ve placed on myself. Buying to fit with the trends. Buying stuff so that people would notice it.
I’m starting with purchases, but I want to transform this into my daily life. What is the real reason I check Instagram 10 times in an hour? What’s the real reason I binge watch Skin Wars in a day? I think it’s time we start being honest with ourselves. What’s the actual reason for what we do? Are we escaping? Are we chasing? Trying to keep up? Because for me, I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s because I don’t feel like I’m enough, and I’m really over that feeling.