It’s been 6 Months.
6. and now concludes January
To understand the true magnitude of this quest you will have to take a deeper look into my past.
Since I was a child I’ve loved to play dress-up. I loved to try on my Mother’s clothes from the 80’s and 90’s. Bright fuchsia cocktail dresses with lace, big bold hawaiian prints and houndstooth blazers with shoulder pads. I would throw on her vintage leather heels with pointed toes and click clack all over the tiles of our kitchen floor.
As I began to grow and attend Middle School I was required to wear dress code. Light blue, white or dark green polos tucked into khaki or black bottoms. Done with the intention of creating equality amongst the students, it had an unintended effect on me, a repression of my creativity.
When it came time for high school, I specifically chose a school that would allow me the freedom to express my individuality through my ensembles.
I went through different phases from: “Preppy Girl” to “Emo Girl” to “Retro Girl”
I continued to spend my time, energy and money shopping. Always a working girl, striving towards independence, I thoroughly enjoyed adorning myself and creating an identity through my wardrobe, and I felt I deserved it.
And though some fashionistas can be into accessories, shoes or clothes-I loved EVERYTHING. As I worked through College, I often had two jobs and less time to shop so then I discovered online shopping.
Even my best and most fashionable friend, Sydney worried for my bank account. Thank God, I never got a credit card – but even without that, through all my earning money, I spent it just as fast if not faster.
Then something happened. I embarked on a journey that not only transformed my perception of the world but my perception of myself (and inspired this blog).
3 Beautiful, Challenging, Unbelievable months backpacking in Europe.
Carrying all of your belongings on your back is a great way to shift your priorities.
You begin to need MUCH less,
You start outfit repeating in every country because that’s all you have,
You become well-liked because you are well-liked, not because you are well-dressed,
You are seen as a human being, not a mannequin,
You face survival, frustration and self-reliance and somehow what your wearing really doesn’t matter,
You realize that instead, the best accessory is a beautiful smile and adventurous spirit 🙂
As you come to these realizations, material objects no longer fill you, not that they ever fully did. Compassion, Humanity and Love are what fill you. Even deeper than that, you recognize that you are whole. You are perfect just as you were created.
Upon my return home, I moved. It was then that I took a deeper look at my closet and myself.
What I found wasn’t pretty, 22 years of a true shopaholic lay before me, I was SHOCKED, APPALLED and slightly disappointed in myself.
Questions surfaced: How much time, energy and money had I invested in these things? What did they mean to me? Who was I? And who am I now?
I recognized then that I had a serious problem. I was an addict and I needed to get sober fast.
What had begun as a form of self expression, became fuel for my ego and a fix for my addiction. I had become nothing more than a brainwashed consumer, totally lost, zero control.
So in that moment of epiphany I vowed: I, Kelsey Wong, will renounce my ways and not shop for clothing, shoes or accessories for an entire year.
It’s been 6 months and I’m still convincing some of my friends and family members that I’m doing this and it’s serious. There have been moments where I’ve wanted to bend the rules, when I’ve wanted to let myself go, where I’ve been tempted to purchase something absolutely adorable.
But the realizations that I’ve had, have made this vow so much greater than any sense of momentary excitement & glee. It’s not that shopping is bad, it’s not that purchasing something special or experiencing confidence and joy is either. On the contrary, it’s about your relationship to it that matters.
I realized that this was how I gave myself love.
They say, When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change. What once represented freedom to me has evolved. Now I have true freedom, I am in control of myself, my choices and my life. And you can too if you so chose. I’m not saying you have to go on strike or fast or quit whatever it is your doing (or maybe you might try it, you’ll definitely learn from it!) but if you take anything from my experience, I hope it is this:
Live in Gratitude
Be so completely grateful for everything you have. Every single problem, challenge or ounce of negativity you may face can be solved and healed with gratitude. We are all so fortunate to have roofs over our heads, lives to live, good food and good friends to enjoy and the world at our finger tips.
Our job is to be conscious of ourselves and the footprint we make. I challenge you to take a deeper look at yourself:
First, Observe it
Second, Question it
Third, Change it
When you shop for groceries, can you shop local? When you shop for clothes, can you find them at a resale store? When you need something right down the street, can you ride your bike or walk?
This is a new movement, a shift towards “Nothing New”. If you are looking for further inspiration on how to make a change in your life, if you are looking to learn and better yourself, I encourage you to check out a friend and Nothing New mentor of mine – Kristin Skarie. She is the founder of this concept and her book Nothing New is in the works – see below for a brief description. Also read about Andrew Hyde, an itinerant blogger and interface designer who owns only 15 items.
And even better, get ready for the new Clothing Swap Co-Opp I’ll be hosting in Phoenix this February, so we can share our treasures and I can slyly pick up something fresh, hey even the dedicated need a little something something.
Wishing you a Nothing New Day!
with grace & gratitude,
**Nothing New: A Year of Living with Less**
Based on a self-imposed commitment to not buy anything new for one year, Kristin Skarie learned some intriguing lessons on the difference between wants and needs. She translated her learnings from this reduced consumerism/consumption experiment to real life lasting leadership in unusual ways – mostly in the form of thought- provoking questions to examine what you want, what you need, and what you have. Be challenged to look deeply at what you can do with “nothing new” to refresh your engagement and contribution in your organization, your relationships, and your life in simple, positive, and profound ways.