9 Things Anxiety Made Be Buy — That I Now Regret
Though I’ve curbed the majority of my needless spending habits this year, I’ve still managed to make some not-so-wise purchases, because, well, I’m human. And while I’ve actively been working on making sure what I do spend money on actually brings me sustainable happiness, sometimes when I’m feeling my most anxious, I’m also my most aspirational self — which can be both a good and a bad thing.
When it’s good, I write out goals for myself, partake in journaling, and try to get to the bottom of why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. I’ll list out my fears and all the things I thought I couldn’t handle (but in the end – did), and I’ll piece together a version of my future myself that I’m happy with. “Future me” is always more confident in her abilities and all that she’s achieved so far, while also humbly acknowledging where she can improve as a partner/friend/daughter/writer.
But when it’s bad, I online shop. For me, online shopping has always been a coping mechanism to deal with stress, sadness, anger, and self-doubt. In order to achieve this “ideal version of myself,” I place into my cart the things I feel can contribute to my perfect, future self. A healthier and “more fit” me? Let’s buy some expensive swimsuits for motivation. A more zen, at-peace-with-the-world me? Let’s buy some pricey art kits because the internet says will help tackle my anxiety. Even before 2020, I’d mask my imposter syndrome at work by purchasing unnecessary clothing and accessories because that’s what I thought I needed in order to look like I had everything figured out.
While I’ve gotten a lot better about this (a reduced income and rarely leaving your house helps), I’m proud to say that I’ve gone at least five months without stress-induced, aspiration-shopping. Mainly because it got to a point where I realized the more and more I bought, the less happy — and honestly, the more anxious — I felt. These purchases weren’t making me feel better; they were making me feel like I still wasn’t enough for myself, and that feeling had to go.
With that said, here are some of the things I bought that I now regret. And yes — I will be reselling some of these soon!
1. Trendy cookbooks
I’d justify spending $30+ on a cookbook that promised healthy, “easy” meals (that happened to be Instagram feed-friendly and involve a lot of expensive ingredients like tahini and manuka honey, naturally) by telling myself this was how I’d learn to make better-for-me food. But almost always, I’d buy the cookbook, make one dish from the table of contents, and then leave the book to collect dust before buying the next one with the same ambitious intent. After a while, I learned I was much more likely to find cheaper and just as nutritious recipes online (for free) and that I’d not only reuse but also grow comfortable enough to start making them from memory.
2. A rowing machine
A few months after all the gyms closed, I reasoned with myself that spending $450 on a rowing machine was an investment I should make, since it’s likely that gyms won’t be opening back to full capacity anytime soon. Thing is, I used to spend $10 a month for membership to a gym which I’d go to 3-4 times a week. I’d have to use my rowing machine every single day for a year and three months for it to “pay for itself,” and since buying it four months ago, I’ve only used it a measly three times. I get way more exercise from walking my dog for free than I do using my rowing machine, which I now know was a purchase fueled by guilt and probably panic. Plus I also wasn’t being realistic with myself. I work 10-12 hours a day in my at-home office. It feels way better to get outside and get moving (while also hanging out with my dog) than to partake in a form of indoor exercise that I don’t even particularly love.
3. Fancy sketchbook and watercolors
A month into quarantine, social media told me that I should de-stress by baking and coloring. The baking part was mostly free, for me, considering that I already carried most of the items in my kitchen. But the coloring part I felt I had to invest in in order to genuinely get the full experience. So, I ordered a sketchbook and watercolors from Michaels and I’ve used it a total of… one time. After that, I decided to just stick to baking and giving myself free at-home facials while binge-watching Mad Men.
Also, fun fact: coloring books are much cheaper and all you need are crayons or coloring pencils to engage in a similarly cathartic experience. Oh, and you will never feel like an artistic failure for not being able to accurately sketch a house plant, which is a plus!
4. Candle-making kit
In the spirit of making yet another cottagecore-inspired purchase, I bought a candle making kit. It was fine, but lighting an apple-scented candle from Trader Joe’s is $10 less expensive, smells better, and is much more soothing. Sometimes, you actually don’t need to DIY anything to feel complete catharsis.
5. Protein shakes purchased in bulk
For about a month, I got super into making faux caramel lattes by frothing salted caramel protein shakes with my morning coffee, which is actually something I do not regret. In my opinion, it tastes delicious and made me miss Starbucks less when stores were still closed. However, I definitely did not have to commit to a warehouse-size purchase of protein shakes. These are still sitting in my kitchen cabinet, but luckily they have a 2022 expiration date.
6. Hunter rain boots
All I’m gonna say is this: I live in Los Angeles, which is a desert that sees rain maybe three times a year. It’s currently November and 90 degrees, so I probably do not need fancy-label rain gear. I initially bought a pair of Hunter rain boots because they were on sale at Costco and I’ve always wanted them; I was already putting outfits together, pairing my new black Hunter boots with cable-knit swears, scarves, and all. But again — did I mention I live in LA? We’ll see how this year’s winter plays out, but I have a feeling these will get resold on Poshmark.
7. Overpriced running shoes
My 5-year-old pair of Nikes were starting to fall apart, so I went to the mall and bought a sleek pair of Adidas that cost a stupid amount of money. “Maybe I’ll start running,” was my thought, when I saw the price tag. Except, I’m not a runner, and I probably won’t ever be one (never say never, but running has just never been my thing.) If you’re a runner and benefit from ergonomic shoes with all the bells and whistles, you should totally feel good about investing in a solid pair of running shoes if you want. But if you’re taking your dog on leisurely 45-minute walks, you may not need to spend so much money on fancy running shoes. While I still use these sneakers all the time since they are super comfortable, I honestly could have spent half as much on a more affordable pair, and been just as happy.
8. Impulsive home DIY buys (read the reviews!)
For a while, I’d been quietly worrying about the fact that I treated my bed like a desk because I dreaded going into my home office. So one night I made a big purchase that I thought would radically transform the room and make me happy and productive. In an effort to make my office a space I loved — since COVID or not, it’s likely that I’ll probably be working from home indefinitely — I bought a really cute, yet outrageously pricey, stick-on wallpaper that promised to be easy to apply.
But the decision was made more or less on a whim, and I didn’t give myself time to scroll through products. After spending three hours working out muscles that have not been worked out in years, I finally got the floral wallpaper I picked out to stick on one wall, only for it to unstick and completely fall off thirty minutes later. And it was non-refundable because apparently, according to the sales associate, this had “never” happened to anyone before. After a brief panic attack, I went to Home Depot and bought a bucket of paint for $23 and just went with a watermelon pink accent wall.
In short: Before you do any kind of interior decorating or renovation, always look up the reviews. Always.
9. Multiple swimsuits at a time
At the start of quarantine, I bought three swimsuits all at the same time with a vague goal of “feeling and looking better” by summer. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with treating yourself to new workout gear or even a new bathing suit if that’s a healthy way to pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you’ve done with yourself, but I was not in the right headspace do that at the time. I also didn’t need to purchase expensive swimsuits to push myself to lose weight or look a certain way — what I needed was to pull myself out of an unhealthy relationship with work and with my body. I’m still doing just that, except instead of buying swimsuits, I’m making sure to use up all the produce in my fridge, trying my best to never skip walks with my dog Sasha, and finding free ways to give my brain and body a break.
Gina Vaynshteyn is an editor and writer who lives in LA. You can find more of her words on Refinery29, Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles, Distractify, and others. If you wanna, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
Image via Unsplash