I took some time off in February to wind back to a time when I didn't need so much.
Let me ask you something, since the social media explosion, with all its sugary imagery, perfectly filtered lattes and run-of-the-mill teens wearing Dior to school, do you ever feel satisfied with your lot?
Perhaps it's just me. Maybe I'm weak of character but I find all this perceived perfection a little claustrophobic.
As a fashion and decor lover, I'm constantly checking Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration. I follow five different fashion vloggers religiously so, my mind is in constant comparison with what exciting project they've got in hand and how they look whilst they're undertaking it. I hate it. It makes me panic, it makes me spend, it makes me unhappy. A reality check was looming on the horizon.
So, after a particularly straining month of January, with an empty purse and a head full of insecurities, I decided to press pause and take some time to reflect on what it was that I was searching for in those perfect feeds.
I realised that in the midst of terrestrial pleasures, I had lost my interest in a higher purpose. With eyes glued to the screen, I had stopped seeing the simple blessings all around me and in the middle of it, I had disfigured my self-esteem.
Thankfully, my disdain woke me up from the daze and a strange repulsion towards the social devil overtook me. I mean, don't get me wrong, I still use my Instagram and enjoy seeing the updates but my interest in it has subsided.
With that out of the way, I realised that the second unnecessary pressure I was placing on myself was my own apperance. Without the constant drive to post an OOTD or photograph my breakfast, there was no longer the need for it all to be so darn photogenic. Sometimes my Weetabix look like a greyish mush. And what of it?
And so, I challenged myself to cut down on the shopping habit I had developed. For one whole month, I pledge not to buy a single item for myself. And some surprising things happened:
1. I Relaxed:
This sounds really weird but at my peak of spend-compulsion, my mind would be busy with thoughts of things I lacked, outfits I wish I could put together, sale signs and internet shopping. It was really exhausting. I'd spend time putting an outfit together only to become disappointed and feel foolish once in it.
Relinquishing this need to stay in vogue, hushed my brain up and suddenly, all this breathing space became available. SIIIIIGHHHH. Glorious.
2. I Used Up What I Had:
Without the option to go out and pick up whatever I thought I needed, I had to get creative and make do with what I already had. Which, as I had a lot, wasn't hard at all. The best by-product of that was that I started cleaning out my beauty cabinet, finishing up old bottles that had been gathering dust and taking up space. I also had a chance to have a proper look at my wardrobe and saw old favourites in a new, warmer light.
3. I Refound my Personal Style:
Keeping fashion inspiration sources at arm's length meant that I stopped aiming to look like other people and started looking like myself. Rather than imitating size 2 bloggers in ripped to shite jeans, I opted for outfits that worked for my body shape, were my style and made me feel comfortable. Turns out, I'm halfway between country preppy and ecclectic boho. I had forgotten that!
4. I Saved a Bunch of Money:
As expected, not spending money meant I saved money. What I didn't expect was to finish the month with an excess of £300...
I rewarded myself by spending some of that money on a lovely hair treatment in a fancy hair salon.
5. I Now Only Buy What I Need:
They say that you can pick up or break a habit in 30 days. Well, I can attest to that, I think. Now that I've completed the 30-day shopping prohibition I find myself completely at ease with the prospect of not owning new bits. For the best part, anyway!
By decluttering and revisiting my old stuff, I've been able to really highlight the products and items I loved and used to the end and which I didn't enjoy and won't be buying again. I'm a lot more reluctant to buy products because they're new or on offer. If I'm not 100% convinced I will use it, it stays in the shop.
I know this blog post sounds pretty rich coming from someone claiming to be a lifestyle blogger but I feel that it needed to be said.
We're lucky to be in a part of the world where we have access to anything we desire. But remember, as with everything, just because we can, doesn't mean we should.
Don't let marketing campaigns make you feel uneasy. As long as you've got a roof over your head, a good friend by your side and wholesome food to eat, you've got plenty.