Shopping has always given me an instant burst of joy. I love clothes and have often felt like a new item in my wardrobe could unleash another side of me. A cooler version, perhaps. Or a version of me with an endless amount of confidence, sass and happiness. But of course, clothes don’t hold this power. It comes from your own mentality.
Although I’ve always preached the idea that wearing a great outfit can help improve your self-esteem, that’s really all about it can achieve. It can’t completely transform your mental state. But, nevertheless, I have turned to shopping many times in the past for an emotional pick-me-up.
I noticed my shopping habit first becoming excessive when I was studying for my journalism diploma. I had just sat an awful exam which I already knew I had failed. I felt stupid, angry and disappointed with myself. As well as this, I felt panicked. I knew I would have to resit the test, but ‘what if I fail again?’ This idea was too much to comprehend. So, I went where I knew would bring me instant relief, Topshop.
I raced over to there as soon as the exam invigilator released us and once I had seen the familiar colourful window displays, I felt calm, almost like I was home. I brushed my hands across the clothes I definitely couldn’t afford, tried on outfits I felt would make me happier. And bought something. I can’t even remember what it was, but at the time it felt like it could change everything.
When I starting earning a living, this became a regular occurrence. If I felt stressed, frustrated, or pressured I would run to the shops on my lunch break and return to work with bags in my hands and a grin from ear to ear. I couldn’t wait to wear my new outfit and when I did, I felt like I could take on the world.
JEANS – JOANIE CLOTHING, BOOTS – BOOHOO, SHIRT – TOPSHOP (OLD)
But then, something stressful would happen at work and I couldn’t rely on my snazzy new pair of boots to get me through it. My confidence wavered. Soon enough, I would have to do it again. And again. It suddenly became very clear that I couldn’t rely on shopping anymore to keep my head above water.
It took me a while to not depend on buying clothes to cheer myself up. But after a while I decided to make some necessary changes to improve my mental well-being (which I discussed further here), instead of covering up any negativity with temporary fixes.
Although I shop a lot less now, it is a hard habit to break. I don’t shop to improve my mood anymore but I do struggle to just treat myself to one thing. Instead I often go through phases of buying lots of new things and then nothing for months. But I’m getting there. Now I often shop my own wardrobe to recreate new outfits, and sometimes look to Ebay for second-hand items. And instead of buying heaps of fast-fashion, I try to invest in more long-lasting items.