So, first off, I want to thank all y’all for following me over and cheering on my new project. I’ll try not to disappoint.
Second off, can anyone tell me how I can set the comments on WordPress so that they automatically get approved? I hate to moderate. Oh Blogger. You were so ugly and out of vogue and yet easy to use. WordPress is definitely sexier, but it seems to have about a thousand or so features I’ll never use, and is much too complex for my poor little brain. (And don’t even get me started on the inanities of Tumblr….)
Anyway! To the topic for the day, which is amazingly enough consumerism (and I thought I had run away from my old blog to get away from all that.)
I never really went into detail about the emotional changes that I went through due to my year of non-consumerism, but let me tell you, they were pretty immense. When my year long project began, I was your pretty average Angeleno. I was living barely within my means, and I constantly coveted so many shiny new things. Cute Kate Spade purses, and frilly Betsey Johnson dresses, and shiny Wusthof knives, oh my! (Let’s not talk about the fact that I almost never cooked.) I still remember the days of agonizing I went through when I got a $250 gift card to Crate and Barrel. I just wanted EVERYTHING.
Like so many people, I was aspirational with my shopping. I thought if I bought just the right dress or purse or pans, I would become someone more elegant, more sophisticated, more amazing. I would be the type of person who always had her hair in place, whose nails were always perfectly manicured, whose life was together instead of constantly threatening to fall apart at the seams.
And yet, as you all know, that never happened. I still overslept most mornings. I still carried around a totally disorganized purse (even if it was a Kate Spade), and I still threw my hair in a totally frizzy ponytail almost every day.
But I never gave up on thinking that these aspirational goods might be the path to my aspirational life. I envied the people who had more money than me, and I envied the lives I was sure they lead.
When I first embarked on my non-consumerist journey, it was hard. In the first few months, I spent a lot of time trolling Ebay and Craigslist for used stuff to buy (under the terms of my project I was allowed to buy things only if they were used.)
But, as time went on, I realized more and more that I just … didn’t need all that stuff. It wasn’t making me happier, it wasn’t making me a better person, and it was only having a negative impact on my savings. I no longer scoured Ebay for second hand pots or for used picture frames. Instead, I started figuring out creative ways to make do with what I already had (or finding awesome friends to borrow gear from when I needed it.) Somehow, along the way, I had developed non-consumerist zen.
The defining moment came for me when one day, almost a year into my project, I was visiting my friends in the new fabulous house they had just bought. Their house was utterly and absolutely spectacular. It was a dream house, the kind anyone would kill to buy. And I was so completely happy for them.
But that was all.
No envy, no wistfulness, no irritation at the world that I had no house while others had a dream house. Just happiness.
And let me tell you. That right there? That’s a dream LIFE, even if it doesn’t come with a dream house.
It took me a year, but I found my zen.
Tomorrow: The reason I bring all this up (or How I Fail at Wedding Registries.)