The Thing I Should Have Bought

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Can I tell you a story, of the thing I should of bought…

Once upon a time, I wanted a dress. It was the muted earthy tones that I love, it was organic and ethically made and I knew that I would wear it every day. But, (why is there always a but?!) it was more money than I had ever spent on a dress. And rightly so, it was made with love and the people making it, were being properly paid. It completely fit my new ethos, of buying once and buying well, yet my mind and bank balance recoiled at the thought of paying for it. After all, I had been used to fast fashion and walking away with a handful of golden change.

And so I didn’t buy it. I told myself that I couldn’t justify the cost, not on myself anyways. I closed the laptop, along with any thoughts of the dress. Only it didn't stay away because I kept seeing it online and every time I saw it, it felt like me. And not even the ‘future me that I would never be’ but me, as I was. I was privileged enough to afford it and could justify it because I didn’t randomly shop anymore. Yet I couldn’t get my head around it. And so I hold myself solely responsible, for what I did next.

I was in town and when a passing a shop window, I saw a cheaper version of the dress. It wasn't really the same but similar, so I went in and tried it on, along with a few other things in the range. That day I came out of the shop, with a bag of new clothes, 1, 2, 3 items. Now for the old me, this was just a normal day shopping but for minimalist me, this wasn’t normal anymore and I felt uneasy. I bashed those thoughts away and reminded myself that I had got something similar to what I originally wanted, for half the price at least - Ah hello consumerist mind, how I’ve not missed you.

The items stayed in the bag for a few days after that. I knew that I’d made a mistake but wasn’t ready to admit it. However the more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself that I should keep these items. I wasn’t going to buy the one I actually wanted, so these would surely be okay?! I got the clothes out and placed them on the floor, 1, 2, 3, 4. One more than I thought but still all cost me less than the original dress I wanted. I’d practically saved money! Only I knew these old thoughts and knew that they weren’t true.

I wish I could say that I listened to what I knew and took the items back but I didn’t. I Kon Mari folded them into the drawer and slowly closed the door. If I’d listened a little more, I would have known that I wasn’t really happy with these clothes, that they hardly sparked any joy but I didn’t. And to my shock, I still wanted the original dress. Only I definitely couldn’t get it now because I’d spent half of the money on mediocre items, that I convinced myself were a better use of my money - why have one when you can have more! This, as I already knew, was scarcity mindset - the thought that we may never be able to buy anything again and so we buy as much as possible but I knew that and ignored it.

I had these items a while and the longer I had them, the more I didn't like them. The second best dress was sleeveless and sat funny on my breasts and the skirts were nice but dug into my waist. As soon as I put these 1, 2, 3, 4 items on, I was waiting to take them off. And yes, you guessed it - I still want the original dress. Because buying stuff we don’t really want, doesn’t satisfy the need.

I was so disappointed. I’d gone against myself by buying high street and I went against myself, by buying things I didn’t need. I also went against myself by not shopping intentionally and by getting caught up in it all. It wasn’t my finest hour and probably my biggest minimalist shopping mistake to date. I knew better but I didn’t do better, I resorted to old ways, to what I knew. Because in that moment, it was easier.

This isn’t to make anyone who shops on the high street feel bad. I shop on the high street! But I’d made a deal with myself, to shop less and shop better and these purchases, shouldn’t have been made. Yes, we all make mistakes but I knew I was making one as I did it, yet I still did it. Our consumerist selves are a powerful thing.

Over the next few months, every time I wore these items, I felt mad. They clung to the wrong places. The material was itchy and I felt more annoyed the more I wore them. So in the end, I stopped wearing them and donated them to someone who would. A costly mistake but a lesson just the same in why impulse buying, almost never works.

I guess I leant many new things from the dress of dreams, without having to buy the dress at all. And maybe one day I will buy it but not yet. I’m done with shopping for a while.

I’m sharing this to show that we never arrive at minimalism. There are always lessons to learn and always mistakes to be made. It’s what we do with those mistakes that matter. I for one have been reminded that second best, when you are able to buy what you actually want, will always leave you wanting more. And that maybe, just maybe, I did deserve to gift myself, the thing I wanted, most of all.