The Life I Want vs. The Life I Have

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?

12 Responses

  1. I might wish I didn’t go to work 5 days a week, because I rarely am interested in buying dressy work blouses. Even though I wear them almost every work day.

    I also am on the constant search for “cute” hiking pants, as if being fashionable in the wilderness is going to count for anything. (So far, cute hiking pants do not exist)

    I really love casual stylish looks, except there really are only 2 days a week when I need such a look, and lately, i spend one of those days running a long run and the rest of it in PJ’s relaxing…

    • I hate it when I decide to want something cute for things that don’t need to be cute. This happens to me with workout clothes all the time, but then I don’t want to wear them and get them sweaty and smelly like the rest of my gym clothes. Or I want cute pajamas, even though I love extra-baggy sweatpants in the winter since my entire being revolves around being warm.

      Seriously, why are there so many cute casual outfits? I end up wearing my sartorial masterpieces to the grocery store!

  2. I’d like a fancy silk ballgown to hang around in the house in, but that’s $3000 more than I am willing to spend 😉

    That said, I do wear my very nice dresses out just grocery shopping or to the mall. There’s no point in owning beautiful things if you don’t wear them unless it’s for special occasions.

    I told BF: I bonded with a woman who was recruiting me over shopping.

    Hi reaction: Uhh…! *laugh*

    Me: Well it’s true. She and I could talk about it all day. 😛

    • I try to wear my nice dresses out, but then everyone asks bitterly, “Why are you so dressed up?” And I can’t wear anything dry clean only… pretty much ever.

      • Yeah, everyone tells me to ‘dress down’ in sweats and jeans, but I only own 2 pairs of sweatpants and 2 pairs of jeans.

        The rest are dresses!

  3. Oh I do that all the time. That’s why my favorite brands are J.Crew and Land’s End Canvas, which to me imply some kind of permanent vacation. However, now that I’m older, I’m better at spending for my real life (work, weekends) than for party clothes!

  4. There are many kinds of people I’d like to be (you’ve inspired me to think about this for a post!) But I am not wholly invested in any of those images. I think my balance lies somewhere in a mix.

  5. […] Paranoid Asteroid ruminates on the life she has vs the life she thinks she’d like to have. […]

  6. It’s sort of a mix for me – I have to use shopping as a tool to pretend to be someone I’m not: a “fashionably up to date” person. But it’s totally not true, it’s just a learned skill for another purpose.

    As an introvert in a management position with slobby tendencies, I try to shop as though I have an ounce of fashion sense so that my outward appearance aligns with my actual competence level. My preference of jeans and sweatshirts just won’t cut it when there are those pesky assumptions people associate with youth and women.

    At the same time, there are definitely the pretties (fancy dresses) that I like just because they’re pretty. I used to need them for work stuff but I don’t anymore. Now I just like them for their own sake, even though there’s no need for them and I don’t enjoy going out dressing up like that where we live now.

    I do pretend that we live in a warmer climate, though, when I’m shopping, sometimes and forget I can’t wear some of those things here.

  7. […] The Life I Want vs. The Life I Live @ Paranoid Asteroid […]

  8. […] of my favourite reads this month came from Paranoid Asteroid, writing about the life she has vs the life she wants (albeit more a post about consumerism than anything […]

  9. I used to shop for a life where I’d wear heels and fancy silk dresses all the time but that has NOT happened.. especially now with Baby Bun, so now I have stopped wishing for pretty heels and will stop buying anything higher than 2″ because I just won’t wear them. Nor will I wear those pretty silk dresses.. although I have kept one just in case.

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