In 2018, I took a vow of no shopping. In this series, I discuss the challenges of kicking my materialistic habits, my efforts toward a simpler, happier life, and everything that happens in between. If you're interested in what inspired me to start this journey or wonder what I have bought so far this year, please check out my Year of No Shopping page. These pages will never contain affiliate links and will never be a sponsored post.
Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them. – Bruce Lee.
If the theme of the last Year of No Shopping update was self fulfillment, this one will be self scrutiny.
Back in early March, my husband and I spent a long weekend in Coconut Grove, FL with some family members. Though I tried my best to pack what I thought I would need, fate and circumstance had other plans. Around that time I had started a new vitamin B12 supplement and failed to properly read the label, which would have informed me I was getting way more B12 than I needed. This overdose of B12 was causing my T-zone skin to break out in cystic acne, my cheeks to dry up like it was 7 degrees below, and my head to pound day and night. I was a complete mess, and it took me four days of this nonsense to figure out why. Considering the heat and humidity of Miami, it did not occur to me that I might desperately need a moisturizer. I bought one on the fly at a Walgreens just outside Miami, and it made me want to smack my head against a wall. The next day the sandals I brought for my trip fell apart as I was walking down the street, leaving me with one pair of worn flip flops. The day after that, I reached in my bag for a sun hat that I’d forgotten to pack. At this point, I was flat out angry about how grandly I was failing at being prepared (one of my signature traits). After my mini freak out, I took some deep breaths and realized, I am so privileged to be in this beautiful place next to all these people who love me. Even as I write this, I can see how petty my concerns are – having youthful skin, wearing old shoes into a nice restaurant, having a nice hat for my beach photos. They sound like the complaints of an ungrateful and small person.
In the weeks following this trip, I have found myself breaking my own rules about online shopping over and over again. I may see some workout clothes that a friend just bought on social media and sneak over to the retail site for a quick peek. Months afterward, I am still getting ads for that site featuring the items I viewed. Stop being creepy, Facebook! You’re gross. I might be reading an interesting article about sustainable technologies or camping or spiders and then before I know it, I am somehow on Amazon. Did I just black out? Though I am only “shopping” for a brief moment, each time I do it feels like a little defeat. It was getting so bad that at one point I had convinced myself I deserved a new fancy yoga mat and was ready to pull the trigger when I received some tough love from a friend. Though I hadn’t seen her in a while and she’d been going through some real shit herself, she still had the wisdom to remind that this sort of challenge was what my Year of No Shopping was all about. She’s such a disciplined, rock solid individual.
I’m not proud of these thoughts or these actions, but I am steadily learning to turn my eyes toward the parts of me I don’t like instead of away from them. I will always be working toward a place where more of my actions align with what I know to be true and sincere.
With all this self-assessing going on, I can’t help but also consider my website. While trying to connect with some old high school teachers, I came across this blog called The Wander-filled Life. It’s run by two teachers who spend their summers traveling on a budget. I was so impressed with their dedication to taking photos that are as close to real life as possible – limited filtering, no photo-shopping – and it made me wonder if I was running this blog following my own principles. I had originally intended for this website to be a portfolio, a place where I could share good and honest stories with people, where one day I could get enough momentum to generate income through my writing. With the small community of readers I have, I want them to curl up with their cup of coffee and feel the excitement I feel when I visit a new place or discover a new idea. It is shocking how often content creators sneak advertising into their work, and though I respect the hustle, it’s the same type of advertising that is disrupting my Year of No Shopping. If I keep using it, I’m a big fat hypocrite.
With all that in mind, I am making it a policy not to sneak affiliate links into any of my written content (like this post) where I receive compensation for referral purchases of products. I will also make sure they are removed from any archived pages. If I do include an affiliate link somewhere, there will be a notice and I will do my best to to make it clear the link is taking you to a product page. As always, I will limit any links to products to those that I know will be helpful or enhance a reader’s experience. As Leslie Odom Jr. said at his book signing this month, “when something rubs up against your integrity, you have to own your ‘No.’”
Though I’m struggling with this challenge, I did use my newfound freedom from shopping to do some pretty cool things. I’ll end this update on a positive note with some of my adventures in February and March: