The Problem With Spending To Become A Better Version Of Yourself


I’ve never been proud of it, but I’ve always been aware that my Insecurity Spending comes in full force during weak moments. Right now appears to be one of those weak moments.

Although I’m in a much better financial place right now than I was even just months ago, I’m feeling a little emotionally frail about how much has changed since summer began (i.e. new jobs and work schedules, new super-busy class schedule, health problems, a car accident, new relationships, etc.). Change isn’t exactly my favorite thing (is it really anyone’s?), and even when the changes are good, they still sort of feel unwelcome, and I get a little lost under them.

Additionally, with all of the changes that accompany the beginning of a new semester comes my most primal female urge to become my Best Self. At the end of every summer growing up, I went back-to-school shopping. This was justifiable at some point in my life, because I was obviously a littler person as a youth, and growing out of my clothes each year. It made sense to get new clothes before school started, and my family had enough money to, so we did. Back-to-school Mary was always fresh as heck.

Now, I am pretty much done growing, and will likely stay around this size for a decent amount of time. I have all of the clothes I truly need, and in addition to just clothes, I have pretty much everything else I need in life to go with them. I have school and desk supplies that work properly for their intended purpose. I have shoes that are both fashionable and functional. I have food I can pack for lunches and multiple things I can transport them in from home to school. I have hair, skin, and beauty products that work perfectly well for me. I have more coffee mugs than I’ll ever need to use at one time. I am privileged beyond belief, and endlessly lucky to have all the things I need and then some.

Yet somehow, with the start of the new school year (and you better bet your sweet ass this will happen again come New Year’s Eve), I am overcome with the desire to replace my stash of stuff with things that might just make me a teeny tiny bit of a better version of myself. (Fact: it is much easier to buy new shit than to examine your own shortcomings as a human being.)

And I know it is quite vain to assume that the same students I saw every day in May will notice if I’m wearing the same outfits or using the same backpack or doing my hair the same way as I was a semester ago. But for some reason, it almost feels like that stuff doesn’t cut it anymore -– like I’m required to somehow get better with time, and be a Bigger Better Mary than I was the last time around, and if I throw money at the “necessary” supplies, my personality will follow suit and I’ll suddenly blossom into a way better and more successful person. My ~New Year, New Me~ mentality has gotten me into financial trouble before.

The beginning of this semester was no exception. Although I’m now a lot more aware of my tendency to spend on shit this time of year to make myself feel a little less nervous and a little more confident, I’m not immune to it. This year, keeping all I’ve learned from reading (and writing) with TFD in mind, I’ve made considerable progress. However, there were moments of weakness.

There was the pair of black boots I bought because my old black boots were just not something enough for Fall 2016 Mary, and there was the hat I picked up even though I know I’m very decidedly not a hat person, but I felt like I needed to buy it because heaven forbid my classmates catch me on a bad hair day when the weather starts to get windy or snowy. I even bought an extra planner, because the (perfectly functional and practical) planner I purchased earlier in the summer had gotten beaten up from being carried around so much, and I didn’t want to be the girl with the beat-up planner.

No sir! I want to be the girl with the perfect planner where I plan my perfect life. So I got the thing, and now I have two. And you know what? My life still isn’t perfect. My plans aren’t perfect. And my new planner is starting to get a little beat-up from being carried around so much. Live and learn, right?

I’m trying to make some sort of vow to myself to stop doing this. It is hard to feel secure about anything when life-things go beyond what you are capable of controlling. But the problem with spending to become a better version of yourself is that it actually more than likely will bring you back a step, and make you feel even worse. Your growth as a person isn’t consistent with how much you spend on clothes or supplies. And honestly, I do believe that there is a certain amount of truth in the fact that a huge marker for Well-Adjusted Adulthood for me will be the day I look in my closet and don’t feel like there are missing pieces that I need to find and purchase before I can truly be myself.

There will be a day where I feel capable of completing my daily tasks without having the most perfect planner to write my to-do list in, and there will be a day where I see much more value in the things I’m doing than I see in the stuff I’m using to get it done with. Today might not be that day. Today, I’m looking at a hat I bought even though I’m not a hat person, because I thought my Best Self should be a hat person. But maybe tomorrow.

Image via Unsplash

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