I like to think I’ve adjusted well to living life in the US after being away for so long. Yet I find some things I never really thought too much before just get me out of sorts or overwhelmed. I’ve been resisting Christmas shopping mainly because I don’t want to be a participant in our ever encouraging and dependent economy on consuming. When did Christmas become more about buying gifts than about enjoying quality time with family? Stores would like us to believe their strong marketing campaigns a lovely new coat or jewelry will have their loved ones head over heels but I know it’s rarely true. All a manipulation on our emotions to think we NEED things rather than good times spent with people we care about.
I decided one way to resist consumerism while still giving is to make gifts! It’s a perfect combination of letting my creativity flow and not spending a lot of money on stuff- I think, someone may enjoy. While traveling, I found myself wanting little creative projects- I sewed fabric onto my green hat (leftover fabric from several clothes I had tailored for me, hat got lost a week before I came home), made a collage cover for my 2nd journal and collected sea shells I anticipated turning into jewelry. Now the beautiful shells are a wonderful reminder of my stays in coastal towns in South Africa and our waiting to be wearable art. When I finally made it to a bead shop, my inspiration was lost. In the city, I found myself with more things to do and allowed myself to to think too complexly with my jewelry project rather than being simple. It’s always easier to be simple when you don’t have many options.
Which brings me back to going shopping. The moment I walk into a department store, I immediately have the urge to turn around and run out the door. I’m overwhelmed with so many choices, so many lights, and so many possibilities. Last night, after a week of planning and encouraging (from my mom), my mom, my bro’s GF and I went Christmas shopping. My energy felt drained and my patience and interest was minimal. trying on clothing seemed more effort than it’s worth. I know for myself I have to be in the mood to shop but my desire to shop or be in a store for any longer than 10 minutes is gone. In past years, I enjoyed the process of thinking up great possibilities, looking, shopping and wrapping gifts; now it seems it’s more tortourous than pleasurable.
Its weird to think my journey in Africa would have such a profound effect but apparently there is no denying it has. My last 3 months on the continent I was exposed to first world shopping malls-it was nice but also overwhelming. A comfort to have access to everything if I wanted. Ultimately, this is what it comes down to. Knowing I could get whatever I needed made me less apt to search or go to stores but in Eastern Africa where I had less access made me happy to have all my necessary items with me.
I managed for so long with little and though I enjoyed the few times when I bought used clothing in the markets and loooked forwared to the opportunity to get dressed up and have my wardrobe when I returned, it all seems unfounded The fantasy was more exciting than the actual experience. I have a closet full of clothing and I likely where the same 3 jeans, 5 tshirts or sweaters. Occasionally, I switch it up by pulling something new out of my closet. It’s a great way to save money or rather not spend. I just go shopping my own closet. I’m content with what I have and with so much possibility my want for something new isn’t so high. Meanwhile, a friend contemplates she may have a clothes shopping addiction.