This piece by Abigail Davidson was originally published on Freestate.
A few months ago, I was driving the streets of Beverly Hills, past rows of elegant shops with a lot of really expensive stuff inside and a lot of really expensive cars parked outside.
It was almost immediate: that feeling I get almost every time I walk into a mall or get an Anthropologie catalog in the mail. All of a sudden, I feel inadequate. Where I didn't just a few minutes before, I suddenly feel not wealthy enough and not pretty enough. My wardrobe is definitely not trendy enough, my car is not flashy enough, and my home is not organized enough. I need more, bigger, better, faster, sexier, flashier. I am inadequate without the things I see through those windows.
I've gotten to the point now where I can pretty quickly recognize this feeling as deceitful and brush it off without giving it much time of day. To be honest, I wouldn't consider myself an extremely materialistic person. I've never had any severe shopping habits and although I'll admit to some credit card debt, for the most part I don't buy what I can't afford. Although I love a new outfit just as much as the next girl, I don't drool over the latest pieces thinking, "I HAVE to have that."
But even for someone like me, it still hits so quickly: the anxiety of not enough.
And I find it interesting. Even though I know I don't need more, I still get that little voice inside that tells me I do. It makes me wonder: Where exactly is this voice coming from? Why is it such a strong one? Is it really my voice or is it coming from something, somewhere, or someone else?
This mindset of consumerism is so ingrained in us; it's built into our minds from such a young age. "Get more, bigger, better... Or else fall behind the Jones'." Our worth as people have somehow been tied up into whether or not we have the best and latest things, and the scary part is: we don't even realize it's happening. Companies thrive off of this mindset, with the goal of each commercial to convince you your life will be complete if you'd only buy their product. And so, we are brainwashed, we are sold, we are stressed, and we are dissatisfied.
Now don't get me wrong; I like shopping! I really enjoy giving gifts and like receiving them too. I think commerce is a good thing and I'm all about people creating goods and making an honest living from selling them. But I wonder if perhaps we've just gone too far. I wonder if it's more difficult to enjoy the things we do buy and to still be satisfied and whole if we don't get that new thing we want. I wonder if what we wear, what we have, and what we drive could be an expression of who we already know we are as worthy individuals, instead of using those things to try and obtain our worth.
So, this Thanksgiving and Black Friday, let's do our best to be consciously grateful for what we have. Let's call this culture of consumerism what it is and be willing to call out our feelings of "not enough" as lies. Let's shop with intention, because we want to be generous and use our dollars to make the world a better place...not because we won't be complete until we buy more stuff.