I have a stay-at-home mom friend whose husband has a very good job. She has devoted herself to raising her two children while her husband works a demanding job that requires long hours on site.
Their older child started college in the fall on a full scholarship, and their other child goes to private school. They just bought a larger home in an upscale area. They travel frequently and take what appear to be very nice vacations. They have relatives who live at the beach and visit them often in the summer months. It seems like a pretty good life. And by her own admission, it is.
Some of the things we used to enjoy talking about were shopping, home decor, and the latest in fashion. We only shopped together once or twice, but would still exchange stories of our latest purchases. It was fun, but it often felt one-sided. With working full time, I never had the luxury of going from store to store to find that perfect purse or side table or dress. She has filled many hours looking for just the right thing. Now that they live in a new, bigger home, her mission is to fill up the new rooms.
We talked briefly about my interest in minimalism the last time we got together, but I'm still uncomfortable with sharing too many details. Regardless, I got the impression that she didn't take me seriously and would never be interested in minimalism anyway.
I had to work most days last week and am working every day this week except for New Year's Day. I was just hired permanently at my job (I was a contract worker for 1-1/2 years) and took a reduction in pay, although I do now get benefits. I am a little frustrated at having spent a little more money than I wanted to over the holiday and am preparing for a lean January. I am planning to start Project 333 in a few days (more on that later). I have been religiously unsubscribing myself from all of the email lists of my favorite clothing stores.
Anyway, my friend emailed me a link today from one of her favorite stores, which is having a big sale. She said she wanted so badly to buy something from there but she was feeling "poor."
I initially wanted to rail at her and tell her how lucky she is not to have to work or pay college tuition, to have the freedom to decorate her house with whatever she wants and to go out to eat whenever she wants, but I didn't. Instead, I replied that I wasn't going to enable her by saying "Go ahead, treat yourself. You deserve it." I told her she probably had more clothes in her closet than she could possibly wear. I sent her a link to Project 333 and told her I was doing that.
I'm guessing that's not what she wanted to hear. I haven't heard back from her; I am curious to see her reply.
I'm not sure how this whole thing will play out with my current group of friends who are still fully in the throes of consumerism. I am not judging them, but I am starting to see that they shop to fill a void. Many of them don't work, and their kids are getting older (middle school and beyond), and perhaps they have too much time on their hands and are bored, or their kids need them less and they are feeling vulnerable. I get that. But finding just the right blouse or piece of jewelry no longer matters to me. I have everything I need, and that is turning into all I want.
That's why this is getting awkward. I don't want my friends to think I'm judging them when I decline a shopping excursion to the latest craft fair. I'm not. Although I do think that my poor-feeling friend should take a good look at her life and count her blessings.
I'm sure I'll be writing more about this in the future.
If you are in the same awkward phase as me, how are you handling it?