How to Buy Only What You Truly Love

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There’s a woman I follow on social media. She’s beautiful, very fit and perfect in that Pinterest kind of way. She has an idyllic life. Gorgeous husband, cute kid, big house, a couple of dogs, great friends… all the things we crave.

But that’s her social media self. Theoretically, I know she still wakes up with bed head, bad breath and probably gets bad gas like the rest of us. She’s perfect on Instagram, but in real life, she probably has all the same frustrations, insecurities and drama that the rest of us deal with. Theoretically, I know this.

But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to be like her. And not the real her who has anxiety and farts, but the social media her who always looks perfectly put together, super skinny and has a warehouse full of workout leggings in her giant walk-in closet.

I love her leggings and some weirdly naive part of myself thinks that if I can just buy the same leggings she has, my life will be just like hers.

I’m going to say this again, just in case you think I’m nuts – theoretically and intellectually I know her leggings won’t make me her. They won’t make me perfect. They won’t even make my Instagram pictures look better, which I really wish they would.

Those pants represent all the fake perfection I kill myself trying to attain even though I know in theory I never will. It doesn’t exist.

I don’t fault this woman for taunting me with her social media perfect life and outrageous legging collection. She’s doing what we all do. She’s presenting the illusion of her perfect self and I continue to buy it, hook line and sinker.

minimalism, shopping

But, back to the yoga pants.

There’s a point in my not-to-distant past where I would have bought the pants without giving it a second thought. I can afford them, I know I’ll get good use out of them (honestly, I do live in leggings) and certainly I “deserve” them. But in the back of my mind, without the self-awareness to acknowledge it, I’d be buying the pants because I want to be like her (the fake her) more than because I need // want // love them. That makes me think of most of the clothes I buy for similar reasons. There are little hopes attached to each garment, just hanging there like a price tag, only the price is my own self-worth that gets a little kick in the ass every time I buy something to become something or someone I’m not.

Beware of attaching unrealistic hopes to your purchases. Things rarely make you richer, smarter or fitter. Only you can do that. Click To Tweet

The good news is that this realization has had a profound shift in my online shopping habits. I’m less inclined to head to my favorite .com shop for a little fixer upper garment that will somehow bring me closer to my idealized self. I’m not saying I won’t buy leggings again (oh, hell no), but I’ve become aware of an unconscious thought pattern that has resulted in a self-destructive habit. So the next time I buy something, it will be because it’s beautiful, functional and will serve my life in some way (yes, leggings do this for me).

So how to avoid this trap of shopping for your idealized self?

  • Don’t own excess – If I buy new leggings, I’m also prepared to give away an old pair.
  • Constantly question your purchases – Do I really need new leggings? (No)
  • Don’t give meaning to possessions – Owning a drawer full of leggings doesn’t make me a different or fitter person. No amount of Lululemon will make me any stronger, faster or leaner than I am right at this moment. Only I can do that. Clothing has nothing to do with it.

I’m curious if this idea rings true for you, too? If you have a closet full of barely worn clothes, then like me, you’ve probably been shopping for a version of yourself that doesn’t actually exist.  At least now you’re aware of it.

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  1. I love the point that we’re shopping for a version of ourselves that doesn’t exist. I’ve gotten much better about fast fashion and impulse shopping. I try to shop exclusively at thrift stores, which cuts down on my cost while eliminating waste. 🙂

    1. This was a huge realization for me. It didn’t occur to me that I was throwing money at something I was not, and it hit me hard. I’m not much a thrift store shopper, but I agree it’s the best way to reduce the amazing amount of waste we create. Instead, I’ve moved toward buying only what I love, or what’s essential. I’ve also become a big fan of renting!