Shopping is generally assumed to be a cathartic process that most people, especially women tend to enjoy. Pop culture associates feel-good terms like retail therapy, shopping spree, and shopaholic with the process. But is it all fun and games for everyone? Not so much. Some people, mostly introverts and people with social anxiety find the idea quite daunting.
Being one of the unlucky one’s, my distaste for shopping is often met with stereotypical amazement. How can a girl not like shopping?
Well here are some Confessions of a Shopophobic. A detailed account of the different stages a person with shopping anxiety goes through:
As someone who only shops out of necessity, I put off shopping for as long as I can. Inevitably, when the time comes to take the plunge, I need to motivate and convince myself that I am missing out on the pleasure that comes with buying new stuff. Pretty much like a cliff diver telling himself that the adrenaline rush will be worth it.
The thought of going out into the world to float in a sea of people without a life jacket is not inviting. You have to consciously suppress it to embark on the retail journey.
Reaching the market
After conquering the traffic you reach the mall or the market. You step out of the vehicle and find yourself in a Nightmare on Consumerism Street. You stand there terrified, disgusted, thinking how we could end world hunger with all the money we throw around. God forbid there is a sale season. It’s a furore; people holding on to their purchases like Sid the Sloth holding a watermelon making his way through the Dodos. Like his survival depends on it.
If you’re like me you would want to shop ahead of time to avoid the chaos. But the recent market trend is to launch the good stuff a day before festivals like Eid. So there is no escaping for the faint-hearted.
There is nothing better than entering a shop and finding what you love. This, however, is a rare occurrence. Usually, you have to roam around and browse a dozen outlets before you find something you (at most) like.
For me, it’s like attempting a math exam I didn’t prepare for. You start out with the first question thinking, “I can totally do this”, and then you can’t so you try the next one and the next one until you know that you’re in trouble. And just like you start improvising in the exam, you have to start compromising while shopping; accepting the fact that you may not fully succeed in your endeavor.
People with anxiety usually over think every single move they make. They imagine a thousand scenarios of what could go wrong and try to prepare for it. I for one make pro-con lists in a Gilmore Girls fashion before making a move.
The luxury of the pro-con lists, however, is not available while shopping. When having to make a sudden purchase I usually tend to feel a little dizzy, my ears start feeling as if they are on fire and my brain starts to complain, I have to make a decision now? This instant? Who do you think I am, woman? Where is my warm up? Where is my pep talk? I’m not ready for this.
Oh, the horror.
Most of us brown girls go for shopping with our mothers and brown moms are epic bargainers. Only the process can make you want to bury your head in the ground like an ostrich. The back and forth of argument seems like a verbal boxing match. The only thing missing is a ring and a referee to declare a winner. What’s worse? If she losses and decides to march out, that’s it. You’re going to have to start from scratch. So you silently cheer for her inside; Let’s Go, Mommy, Let’s Go!
Hello Buyer’s Remorse
You’ve made it this far. You’ve acclimatized to the market hustle bustle, you’ve found the one thing you love or like, you’ve calmed your nerves and decided to lock it. Your mother has outdone herself in the bargaining department and has swung you a pretty good deal. So you head for the purchase. Deep breath in and money out. The shopkeeper hands it to you and you’re on your way out. And Boom! The classic buyer’s remorse is standing outside to meet you in all its glory.
Did I make the right decision? Could I have bought something better? If only I had looked around more. Did I really need this stuff? (And if you’re not with your mom) Will my mother like it? Oh boy!
You rush into your home, tote bags in both hands, you enter your room and fling yourself on the bed. Ah, what a luxury. A grateful praise the Lord escapes your mouth.
You wait for the hangover to pass thinking you’ve done enough ‘peopling’ for a month. It passes eventually so you get up and try on your new stuff, clothes, jewelry, shoes. You glance in the mirror and look at that! Looks perfect, you’re killing it. Come on self-confidence time to go up. And you tell yourself, “Maybe this feeling makes the whole ordeal worth it.”