In my last post I told you about this amazing tiger print dress that would be perfect to wear to my 10th college reunion but that I wasn’t going to buy ….
Well, I didn’t “buy” it, but I did end up getting it. My mother saw the post and insisted on buying it while she was visiting me in London. I objected that it would be cheating, and she countered that I couldn’t stop her from buying it for me as a belated Christmas/birthday present since she hadn’t seen me at the holidays to give me a present. I gave in. I also let my parents buy me a pair of tiger print shoes from Topshop that were on sale for £20. They both looked absolutely fabulous and earned me lots of compliments at reunions from a crowd of people who really appreciate their tiger print.
At first, I felt guilty, even with the “Christmas/birthday present” excuse. I was still getting something new. And really my mom was only buying that particular dress and shoes as presents because I hadn’t been able to buy them for myself. Even if it didn’t violate the letter of the rule, didn’t it violate the spirit of no new nothing?
I suppose the answer lies in the reasons why I am trying to go this year without new stuff. Yes, on the one hand, part of it is that I have so much stuff already I want to avoid bringing new stuff into my life, and in that regard, the new dress and shoes do cross the line. But, on the other hand, perhaps a more important driver of my decision to do this year is that I want to be more conscious about my interactions with things. The point is less about the having of the things than about the process by which I obtain them and my use of them. I shouldn’t buy things without purpose or that don’t, to use the Kondo-ism, bring me joy. (Full disclosure: I have never read anything by Kondo or watched her show. I suspect I might disagree with her on a lot of things because I don’t think it makes sense to get rid of stuff just for the sake of it.)
In this case, the joy that the tiger print was going to bring was so obvious that someone else had to buy it for me. It wasn’t a spur of the moment buying decision, but a deliberate choice by my mother to get me something that would be thoroughly enjoyed by me and others at my reunion. Sure, I would have lots of fun at the reunion without it, but wearing it made me excited about reunions, made me feel good about how I looked, and showed my school spirit and love of Princeton. It also sparked numerous conversations, including with someone who was wearing the skirt in the same pattern! Thanks to my dress, I met a new friend. So, even if getting the dress fell in a gray area, I don’t regret it.
But, even if I am going to let myself off the hook with respect to the dress and shoes, I still cheated on one other item I bought for reunions. On the morning I planned to wear the tiger print dress, I went to the Starbucks in a mall near our hotel on Route 1 in Princeton. While on my way into the Starbucks, I saw a headband in the window of Anthropologie, and the next thing I knew I found myself inside buying it to wear with the tiger print dress. I had been coveting one of the big cloth headbands I saw on lots of people this season, and I used the fact that this one would match the tiger dress as an excuse to justify it to myself. I think part of the cause for my lapse in self-restraint was the excitement of having new stuff (the dress and the shoes) made me eager for more. There is a lesson in that: I need to avoid buying stuff just to prolong the excitement of newness. I easily can get caught up in the cycle of buying because of it.
So, where does all that leave me? I am now halfway through my year of no new nothing, and the headband is really my first big cheat. It would be better if it had never happened at all, but at least it is something I now have already enjoyed wearing and am sure I will continue to enjoy wearing. (It was also pretty cheap so I don’t have to feel guilty about a big spend.) I suppose that the half-way mark is a good time to make a mistake that reminds me how easy it is to just get caught up in the cycle of buying that I am trying to break. Hopefully it won’t happen again this year!