Today's post isn't directly about fashion, jewelry, or beauty, but indirectly it is. I went through a phase when I lived in Southern California where I was obsessed with buying make-up. I had always bought my make-up at the drugstore, just like my Mom and sister and everyone else in my hometown. But then I discovered MAC stores and Sephora. Walking into a MAC store was like heaven for me. All of those colors, all of the possibilities... I felt good as soon as I walked inside of the store (especially the one at South Coast Plaza). Often I knew that I didn't need another lipstick that was 1/4 shade different from one that I already had. But I'd buy it anyhow. I assumed that most of my obsession was because I had gained weight, & since I didn't like my body at that time, I was focusing on my face. That might have been a small part of it, but now, years later, I see the bigger picture.
I wanted happiness. I couldn't afford large expenses, so I bought lots of little things. It was my attempt to balance my life. My job was stressful & isolating, and it didn't pay enough to match the exorbitant cost of living in Southern California (BEFORE the housing bubble burst). When I had time off from work I spent most of it cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping, & running errands. Not exactly fun things, but they were all things that I felt I "should" do before I did fun things. I was trying to play by the rules for success, and unwittingly making myself miserable.
I had recently gotten out of a long, unhealthy relationship with an alcoholic, so I needed to take a break from dating, I had no family on the West Coast, & only a few friends since I'd just moved there. My biggest source of enjoyment was my friends, and one of my friends' favorite things to do was to go shopping. Of course I wanted to go with them. Then I would spend more than I'd intended, not have enough to pay my bills, and the cycle of stress and unhappiness continued.
I now believe that if I had more pleasurable _activities_ in my life, I wouldn't have needed to buy THINGS in order to feel good. (Or at least not as much.) Since then I have had to take a hiatus from work, and as a result I've had time to do creative hobbies again. I've gotten so good at some of them that I'm looking into doing them full time as my own business. All of that brings me happiness. I enjoy creating things, I enjoy learning about running a small business, I enjoy having some choice about how I spend my working hours. I wonder what my life would have been like if I'd known these things long ago - to make fun a priority, and to make enjoyable, self-esteem building activities a core part of my life. I think I would have been happier sooner, spent less money, had less debt, less stress, and maybe less make-up. Just a little less.