Remorse Is More Than A Reason for Return

Day 84, Clothing Items Purchased:  0, Temptation Radar: 5 spring trends killin’ me.

Remorse. Simply stated, it is dirty, rotten, stinkin’, old regret. To experience remorse is to feel sadness or a sense of loss. When you really think about it in that context, it seems sort of weird that people accept the idea of Buyers Remorse. After all, people purchase what they need or like when they feel motivated to do so. Elation is the usual emotional response associated with the procurement of a new item of clothing, piece of furniture, technological toy, whatever the case may be. Is it that remorse only activates when we’ve over-spent? Or, is it the defining moment when one realizes the item was simply the wrong fit for her? Well, both of these are reasonable scenarios, I suppose. Then what say we about remorse experienced with the “sneaky” purchase? How about the impulsive purchase made to ease pain or to boast greatness? I know. I know. No one reading this has ever purchased under such horrible motivational influence. But, I ask this question: If purchased item was truly meeting a need or a healthy desire, why would one feel such abundant loss and utter dissatisfaction with it?

I was recently in a department store browsing, when I overheard  young girls talking. I, being on a mission , did not intend to be sucked into the vortex of handbags, but it happened. While digging through a corner bin of rather lovely leather, I heard,

“Oh my God! Look Leah, it’s a Tory Burch. So cute. It’d be perfect for going out.” Her friend replies, ” You gonna get it?”  “I don’t know, I really want to. Problem is it’s half my rent. But, wouldn’t Amanda die if she saw this!”

I paused, staring at the girls. Smirking a bit and shaking my head, I restrained my urge to go over to this 20-something and give her a talking to. I’ve so been there…. purchasing the thing you can’t afford in an effort to remind yourself of personal worth , while attempting to solidify your worth to the friend who recently impressed your boyfriend apparently more than you did.

Then, you get older, thinking you’ve outgrown such childish things. Understanding the value of a dollar and the hard work it takes to generate it you are much more deliberate about wise purchases, and less tempted by social pressure. Certainly, you are not the one looking at the shoe parade forming across the aisle floor at the Junior League meeting or the PTA and ranking social stature.  Assuredly, you maintain the notion that “things” don’t make people happy and “no one really cares about that stuff anyway”. Yet, something inside still pulls and tugs and feels the need to medicate feelings of mediocrity and insignificance with retail.

In the midst of my observation, I had to admit I’m not much farther along in this process than those 20 year-olds. After all, within the hour of this incident, I was at the counter purchasing yet another pair of sunglasses. When the shopping hangover hit, a new discovery was born: The notion of self-medicating with retail breeds buyers remorse. The depth of the internal state-of-being determines the severity of the remorse. After all, if it was just a bad fit….returning wouldn’t truly be regrettable, now would it?

Standing in the aisle, I remembered a perfect example of my own buyers remorse. Last summer, I was so irritated with a friend. Honestly, just irritated. Not vengeful or really even angry, just enormously twirked. Being unable to articulate my frustration and really lacking surety that my feelings were appropriately justified, I suffered in silence, taking out all of my frustration on my Saks card. I bought this…..

Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, I thought it was great. Yes, I felt good for 6 hours after I bought it. The euphoria waned, and quickly. Why? Because the motive for purchase was totally a miss. Guess what? I didn’t return it. But, I’ve not enjoyed it. Carrying it only once, I felt it was a weight. It was if I thought everyone who saw me with it knew the story and peered at me with disappointment. Obviously, that’s absurd, yet a powerful testament to the depth of the insecurity the purchase brought. Wasn’t it suppose to subtly enhance confidence, worth, happiness? On the contrary, it still mildly nauseates me each time I look at it. Although aesthetically perfect, it’s altogether wrong. The one evening I carried the clutch, it actually snagged my favorite knit blouse. Irony? Perhaps. Sign? For sure.

As I was walking out the of the store, feeling much less inspired to speak words of wisdom to the youngsters, the best advice I could muster was this,

“Pay your rent, sweetie. You’ll enjoy a night out so much more if you have a place to crash when you leave. By the way, I’ve got a a great Tory you’ll love and it’s yours!”

If only I’d had the courage……


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