Why I fell out of love with shopping...
I went to a mall this week. And I could not bring myself to buy anything. I was there first thing on a weekend morning. I found parking so easily that I did a double take on the spot. Was this for real? I saw the reflection of me, looking a little lost, in polished store front windows. One shop to the next. Flashing sale signs that read 70 per cent off, buy one get one free — still, nothing. None of the usual rush of thrill and adrenaline, none of the curiosity of what I might find on the discount racks, I didn’t even have to remind myself to stay in budget once.
In the last store I was at, I even picked up a basket and loaded it with dresses and tops. I stood in the line at the checkout counter for five minutes, and then abandoned the basket with its contents and walked straight out. I simply couldn’t bring myself to spend this inordinate amount of money on clothes!
“What in the world is wrong with me?” I thought to myself. I am still a Dubai-ite, aren’t I? For nearly a decade of my life in this city, I have shopped every single month.
It’s what we do. Shopping is our national sport. We shop when we are happy, and when we are sad, and when we are angry. We shop our feelings and inadequacies away. We shop before events, after holidays, during long weekends. It has been ingrained in us through years of clever marketing of the Dubai dream — to walk out of the mall, hands grasping oversized bags full of shopping! Why is it, then, that I can’t bring myself to buy into this idea anymore?
Perhaps it’s age, I thought. Or maybe the pandemic. I went home that evening and opened up my wardrobe. Piled up to the ceiling and wall-to-wall — it seemed to be filled with the most beautiful clothes and shoes that I never wear. Six-inch heels? Why would I do that to myself? And really — with no exquisite summer holiday destinations and no concerts to post selfies from, and no nights of clubbing and parties and social gatherings — the only person who has to approve of what I wear anymore is me.
Pre-2020, we were a country of people who liked to buy — buy a lot and buy cheap. The line between ‘want’ and ‘need’ was thin and blurry, and appeared and disappeared like the Burj Khalifa on a foggy morning. Now, though, it seems like the distance between these two words and what they mean is vast.
I am consumed by this irrational desire to throw out all the random stuff that has been piling up in the corners of my home. Because if the last 15 months have taught me anything, it is that I only sit on one part of one couch, drink only from my one favourite coffee mug, wear and re-wear my same four sets of pants and T-shirts as long as I can help it and use about 5 per cent of what I actually own.
Fun fact. Did you know that the average American household has 300,000 things? I cannot imagine we are too far behind.
Things. I am quite tired of this endless race to buy more things — things we don’t need, things we don’t use, things that don’t mean much once they come home. What I do feel like spending more money on, though, is learning and experiencing. And creating more time for myself to do the things I like to do.
So, I’m sorry, shopping — but I think I have fallen out of love with you.
A self-proclaimed minimalist.