You Can’t Buy Your Way Out

About two weeks ago I had a desperate, overwhelming urge to run downtown, tear my Covid-battered clothes from my body and shop like I have never shopped before.

I didn’t make it downtown, but it never fails to amaze me how far you can get online.

So many packages have arrived in the past week that Obi’s doorbell conditioning is about two months ahead of schedule.

It’s not new information to me that I shop when I’m anxious. I’m not sure why I find it soothing — maybe a sense of control over an imagined future. A hope that fresh clothes will equate to a fresh me.

It only works in moderation, though, and I shot straight through the feel-good phase into the ughh-too-much phase, which reminds me, again, of the lesson I learn anew every time I hit this cycle:

You will never buy your way out of anxiety, anger or apathy.

Nor will you ever wish your way out. The only escape from those particular problems is through active engagement, not mindless avoidance.

I’m not talking about going to therapy or telling your friend about it or working out. I’m talking about grabbing the problem by the tentacles and wrangling it until it stops trying to strangle you.

The only way I know how to do this is writing, and I know I haven’t been writing enough when it happens.

Well, I haven’t been journalling enough. I’m writing plenty, but I haven’t been making the time to write just for my own sake (industrial creativity vs organic creativity) — to calm down, make space, unravel what’s become too tightly wound.

This is the purpose of journalling: to actively wrestle with your life.

To take the big, amorphous stuff that buzzes around your head in a cloud of poorly-defined anxiety and reduce it down into small shapes on a page, where it ceases to seem so ominous.

To create a fresh new me through my own efforts, rather than allowing myself to believe that a new skirt is the answer to all my angst.

So now I’m off to journal. If you’ve been sensing an undercurrent of anxiety or frustration or existential dread, and can’t quite make sense of it, maybe now’s a good time for you to go journal too?