D does not understand my interest in fashion. He likes to look fondly back on College Sarah, who rocked socks with sandals and only owned one other pair of shoes, whose tiny wardrobe couldn’t fill apartment closets, who could wake up and be on the bus to class in 10 minutes. Grownup Sarah likes to wear skirts out to dinner, insists on wearing high heels on New Year’s Eve, and feels constantly self-conscious about how her hair looks.
We were taking a walk around our neighborhood today, and we got onto the topic of shopping for a life you wish you had vs. shopping for the life you’re actually living.
When shopping for clothes, I tend to make these giant leaps of reasoning. If I have this fancy dress then the exciting party invitations will start rolling in. If I have this beachy maxi dress then I will have a vacation where the long skirt flutters becomingly in the breeze as I stroll along the water’s edge. If I have that skirt then I will become leggy and slender and effortlessly cool like the model. If I have that suit then I will be capable and respected at work.
I like to think that I’m immune to marketing – after all, I’m not buying name-brand items or getting caught up in the Missoni for Target hoopla (thought I admit the Jason Wu stuff was cute) – but I’ve been fooled all the same. Why else would I believe that I could buy myself into a life filled with parties and tropical vacations and a model’s body?
Worse still is that the life I shop for (or wish I could shop for) is a life I probably would not enjoy. I enjoy dressing up, but I hate parties. They make me tense; I fret the whole time over making sure I say the right things. I don’t like the beach much either. My Irish-pale skin burns easily and I get bored after sunbathing for just an hour. I wouldn’t mind looking like a model, but I bet I’d have to stop eating cheeseburgers and pizza for dinner. I already am capable at work, so the suit may give me a confidence boost but not much else.
Often, the life we have is the life we really want, the life we’ve shaped through our decisions and the choices we make based on our own priorities. My imaginary shopping lists are just that, at least until my priorities change or we win the lottery.
What kind of life do you wish you had? Have you shaped a different sort of life for yourself, or does your purchasing align with your dream life?