How to stay ‘sober’ yet happy, without shopping

Let me start by a confession: I LOVE SHOPPING….. AND I HAVEN’T SHOPPED IN TWO YEARS!!!!

I love shoes, jewellery, dresses, lipsticks, lamps, glasses, dessert platters, plants. I am an impulsive shopper, which means I shop ‘just because’, not out of need. If I walk inside a store and I see something yellow, I would just pick it up and put it in my cart because I love yellow colour. I just can’t resist things I love! 

But people do change (or so they think). 

The first time I travelled to Pakistan after a gap of about 6 years, I had 6 allowed bags and 2 extra. One of my bags only had shoes; mine, number 1 and number 2’s. 

Only a week after I landed in Karachi, I had realized it was a mistake, as for the rest of the duration of my stay, I only wore my Nike flip flop, which was not only comfortable but also the best defence against sweltering temperatures. My sister as usual had issues with me not wearing my branded, colourful heaps of jewellery and shoes, for she was afraid of me being judged (again) by family and relatives but I reminded her my name and she did get used to me wearing those flip flops with each and every, almost every outfit.

Number 1 & number 2 did get some chance to use their summer dresses well, but again accessories and shoes were only adding to their discomfort, being it their first summer in reality.

When I got back to Canada, there were couple weeks, rather months in between, where I lost track of new and old stuff. I had been preparing for this trip for months and then of course I bought and got stuff in Pakistan too. Hence at times, I would find out brand new stuff, with the labels on, buried deep inside the closet, running a size or two short for number 2, or number 1.

So it was around the beginning of 2014, when I decided I am not shopping. Yes I know it sounds weird, and unbelievable. But imagine the height of my frustration for taking such a big decision, for those who know me, know that shopping is one therapy I love and how fond I am of pretty little stuff and trinkets. BUT i decided nevertheless. 

There was no deadline, no plan. I just decided I will not shop until all the current stuff in number 1 & number 2’s closet runs short and mine is all used, at least once.

What followed next were a few months of serious and severe depression, glum and binge eating. Of course this was my mind and body’s defines against this “stupid” decision I had taken.

Image courtesy: Google

Image courtesy: Google

I would just break the continuity here and share a funny habit. Long time ago, I developed this habit out of need. I would go to the mall, pick up all the stuff I liked, take it all to the fitting room, try it on, and then pick a handful out of those piles that I loved. It is the perfect ‘Dopamine fix‘ for me that not only helped satisfy my craving for all that colour, glitz and style but also cool it down. 

Sorry… back to where I was…. 

For past almost two years, every time I browsed through Zara.com, I would add stuff to my shopping cart and at the end would click every item, zoom in and try to find a similar item in my closet. And every time I did find one, so I would remove that item from my basket and end up with nothing, and a reminder that I have that blue top with the bull head or that long lost turquoise flats that I had almost forgotten.

It was and is not about money, but trust me when I say it; the feeling of peace when you actually take the worn out or old stuff out of closet, when you actually find space, when you feel it organized, when you can put a new outfit together without spending money using the same stuff from the back of the closet that you did not know existed. And this is something big, this means ALOT coming out of this horse’ mouth.

I did not buy a single piece of clothing, any thing for home, any utensils, just nothing. I just kept removing the chipped plates, the ripped clothes, the clothes that kids grew out of. For their pre-loved clothes, I know this super amazing place ‘Weecycled’ where I give their clothes when they grow out of it. They are a consignment based store in Brampton, and carry pre loved clothes and toys as well as new stuff. I have been dealing with them for about 6 years now and am super happy. I know I could give the same clothes to someone in the family or friends and I did try it. Turns out they took the clothes too, and later whined and complained they were not good ‘enough’ so they threw them. Okay…. Alright…. I get it….. So I decided to divide the clothes. One portion I give to donation, the other to Weecycled, and few I keep for memories. Yeh that’s me!

And I did not break my fast, for about two years. No clothes, no shoes, nothing at all. Almost two years for number 1 & number 2 since they badly needed winter clothes for school, and more than two years for myself. I satisfied my cravings by browsing online stores, adding items to my cart, and then analyzing if where would it be used. I love dresses on my little ones, but I specifically asked myself where and how they will wear it since the snow pants make it almost impossible to wear dresses in winter so that leaves only spring/summer. It helped me great deal to put in perspective the need. 

And then came this spring. I opened the closet. Clean, spacious, welcoming. It felt so good. Today was the last basket of clothes that I will be dropping off at Weecycled. After this I would need new clothes, and that still depends.

I myself am still fasting. I am using my existing wardrobe, trying to innovate and restructure my stuff in new ways every time and I must say I am loving it. I also realized how much junk I have been carrying all these years, while I only use two pair of jeans and 4 tops on a regular basis. Rest is all the impulse!

I also remember last year when I visited my favourite clothing store in Karachi, they had these new short kurtas on display and while I was checking those, one of the sales staff came to me and mentioned “You don’t need these; you bought all these last time and they have just been shortened in length but all the same”

That was some sincere and honest opinion I loved. I mean one more reason for me to stand firm on my decision. Also my sister and sister in law have been tempting me for past so many months, sending me pictures of branded replicas that would cost less than half the price of the original one. Yet, I stood firm and am still standing firm!

As for the children, trust me it don’t matter to them. As a matter of fact they loved the idea of no shopping and getting money for their clothes so they try to keep their stuff stain free so they get more coins in their coin box. 

There is nothing wrong with being smart. Nothing wrong in teaching kids to be smart. Perhaps we just need to try it. And definitely if I can stay sober and sane, so can you!

Leave a Reply