This August on my 30th birthday I made a decision to invoke on a one year challenge. I wanted to do something that would be difficult (for me) and would help me gain a better understanding of my own identity. I decided to go on a consumption protest and not buy clothes for one year. I’d been in a cyclical habit of just buying new clothes with each season and spending money and time I didn’t need to spend, chasing ever changing trends. I wanted to step back and examine our society and culture of consumerism and how it had affected my life. I’ve completed four months of my challenge and thought it was time for an update. Here are some things I’ve learned:
Embrace imperfection. When I gave up chasing trends I had to accept that my wardrobe might start to feel boring, but I decided not to care. The not caring is such a freeing experience. I’ve spent too much of my life caring what others think and worrying about how they perceive me. The fact is, imperfection builds character and uniqueness and allows for more creativity. I tend to be a bit clumsy and so far I’ve ripped and stained several shirts (working with kids doesn’t help). At first I’d get really upset about the fact that I couldn’t replace the ruined item, but I’ve learned to let it go and make do with what I have. I’m getting creative with how I wear my wardrobe and pulling out old, long forgotten pieces I haven’t worn in ages. It’s funny how many compliments I’ve received about an old dress I probably wouldn’t have worn again if it wasn’t for this challenge.
Intentionality. I’ve become much more intentional about how I spend my time and money. Even though my challenge applies specifically to clothes, it’s spilled over to other aspects of my life as well. I find myself thinking more about the purchases I make and making sure they’re truly necessary. I still go out with friends and on dates with my husband because it’s a great way to connect, but I’m less of a compulsive shopper. I’ve also been more intentional spiritually, spending more time reading and studying the Bible these last few months.
Better habits. Instead of shopping when I have free time, I’ve been working out. I bought a couple workout videos (Jillian Michels kicks my ass) and have been going on runs more frequently. As a result I’m in better shape and have more money in the bank.
These are a few things I’ve learned in the last four months of my challenge, I’m sure there will be more revelations to come in the next eight months. I’ve begun to reprogram the way I think about consumption and I hope the lessons will last a lifetime.
Originally written on 1/9/2012