I always know when I am seriously discontented with the way my life is going.
Aside from the emotional eating, the cataclysmic breakdowns inflicted on the hapless boyfriend and the mindless surfing of the Internet, the kind that leaves you with a hollow and depressed feeling like you just ate a huge bag of candy and can’t quite remember why, there is also The Quest.
The Quest is my own personal name for that phase in my discontentment which manifests itself as rampant consumerism. The Quest is me, deciding that a new handbag, a new pair of shoes, a new Moleskine notebook, or a new hairstyle, will change my life.
The Quest is why women read InStyle magazine, why they spend hours hunting down “one of a kind” items in vintage stores, or wake up at 3 a.m. to bid on that leather purse on eBay, or spend $300 of rent money on shoes. The Quest is about finding that one sartorial piece that will complete your wardrobe as well as your life, why in certain circles finding that piece is referred to as finding the HG (Holy Grail).
The Quest is why I think I need a new leather handbag in order to become a grown-up, why I buy new notebooks, dreaming of magically turning into An Honest To Goodness Writer, the kind who sits pensively in cafes, wearing cable knit sweaters, scribbling with a pencil, effortlessly churning out insightful and entertaining prose.
For all those women out there like me, I have this to say to you: It’s not the $300 shoes. It’s where you think the $300 shoes are promising to take you.
They are saying this: Buy us. Buy us and slip us onto your pretty pedicured feet and we will take you places. Buy us and together we will make a new beginning. Wear us and together we will conquer the world, see new places, do exciting things. Wear us and become the person you always wanted to be but never could because up until now you didn’t have the secret weapon: Us and our $300 price tag.
So we swipe our credit cards, fork out the cash, bring home the shoes and maybe for a while we actually believe the myth. But here’s the thing: It’s not really the shoes talking (unless you actually hear them talking to you in which case I recommend making an appointment with your therapist). It’s fear and maybe a little bit of good old-fashioned laziness.
It’s easy enough to resolve to change your life but it’s very, very hard to actually do it. It’s much more convenient to believe that something material can pull you from your current state of stagnation, to new and exciting heights, to the next stage of your life. The truth is, if you really want to change your life, it doesn’t matter what you wear or what you own or what tools you think you need in order to do it.
The only thing you really need is you. As the immortal Dr. Seuss once wrote:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.