At the risk of going against everything we think a personal style blog stands for, if you're having a bad day, I implore you to put your wallet away and take your hand off the mouse to avoid clicking "Buy Now." I had a really nice, long talk with a good friend recently about personal wealth. Not the money in our pockets or how many zeroes are behind one's checking or savings account, I'm talking true Personal Wealth -- the priceless things in our lives that result in the most valuable investment, our happiness and well-being. And more to the point: not trading that in for that fierce pair of heels, no matter how great your legs look.
Don't get me wrong, I love getting a new pair of shoes, a sparkly bauble, a new dress -- I love it all. But I also know it can be an emotional trap, one that's easily set and sprung upon ourselves, when we want a little pick-me-up and it's too easy to place emotional value on things. A new fancy handbag may grant a momentary sense of one's life feeling complete, and a new set of furniture will make your home feel like a new, exotic place, but we all know that glorious retail high fades, and if there's something else troubling one's mind, that's the one item that remains. And you can't take it back or exchange it for something better. Browsing through beautiful things in a store is genuine therapy on its own, a nice reminder that the world is full of lovely, precious things. I can spend all day browsing the time away, and feel totally inspired. It's when we're tempted to put our happiness on a charge card, that's when the moment of pause is worth all the credit card points in the world. Stopping to ask yourself, Why am I making this purchase? What is this object representing, or rather, replacing? What's this object really worth??
I had that good conversation with a very good friend, which made me think of the idea of writing your own reality check. I love silly word plays, what can I say? I was having a rough time, we've all had bad days/weeks, and it's so much easier to hide in seemingly harmless (but expensive) distractions, like shopping. I've spent enough days and dollars, claiming retail as both hobby and therapeutic escape, and it's always an empty result. I would describe writing one's own reality check as asking oneself the hard questions that get to the bottom of one's troubles, and not letting easy distractions replace that process. And it doesn't have to be done alone -- that's the part where good friends come in.
I intended to spend an afternoon burying my head in racks of clothing, trying on new ways to pretend to look happy, but instead I did the opposite -- I phoned a friend and we sat for a long time over coffee, talking about the ways we cope with bad situations, and adjusting perspectives. We did wander through shops together, but it was to admire and give one another reality checks on what's really necessary. Sure, that blouse with stripes is adorable, but how many striped blouses do you already own? And yes, that pair of bright-hued jeans is adorable, and on sale, but don't you already have something with a similar color? The main objective wasn't just to be money-mindful, but to keep one another in-check over what true happiness and friendship means. We don't need to measure our mood, or how good a day is, in how many bags of things we walked away with, the trusted companionship of a good friend is what makes the day worthwhile.
Jaunty Fine Print: Illustration by Denise Sakaki