Photo by Ann Marie Wilson
Dear Advice Town,
I spent too much money on myself this holiday season! I’m addicted to expensive film and computer bobbles! Now I’ve given back half of this stuff because I feel so guilty. What’s wrong with me?
Crazy and Broken
Dear Crazy and Broken,
You are certainly not alone! I would love to attribute most of my mindless spending to my selfless addiction this season. However, in the midst of a money-purging whirlwind I shamefully bagged a few shiny objects for myself which proved to burn the hand that gifted them with buyer’s remorse.
Let me digress. Insert “Saved By The Bell” dream sequence here.
There I was blinking hard in front of the Apple website. I had been there for what seemed like hours, caught in the tangible tango of CVC surrender. Sweaty palms and dry mouth, Apple's crisp clean design calmly seducing me like sirens to a sailor at sea. The sirens broke out into bellowed song. “You deserve this new computer! You are an artist! You are a professional! You NEED this to stay relevant in this forever-changing, and tech engulfing world. You NEED this computer to create your very best work!”
So I clicked! I lost it and clicked!
Finally, the package arrives! I slice it open ever so carefully and I begin clicking around. I am mentally prepared to experience the awe of this fast and furious, smooth and glorious humming device that will give me the power and skill to dominate the free world!
I no longer hear the Sirens’ song. It has been stifled by the screaming storm of reality flooding my brain. Soft and subtle at first, the persistent rumble becomes the deafening piercing pop of lightning. "I can't afford this! Sure, in three months if I do the credit card shuffle. I could possibly have half of my bill paid off but the interest will be insane! Not to mention, this Mac is not that much of an upgrade. The mouse doesn't click like my old Mac and the power button is all wrong!"
As captain, I salute. I am determined that I will indeed, “go down with this credit slip ship!” This continues until the water is waist deep. Then suddenly, in the midst of a pumpkin roll fog, I decide to scramble to the lifeboat and proceed with dark but necessary action.
"That's it! I'm boxing you up, and sending you home," I whisper scream as I slowly try to strangle the device with the provided packaging, as though I never opened it. I wanted to leave no trace of my internal struggle.
The storm is over. The sirens are silenced and the sun is shining once again. I have survived. Once I come to my senses the sweet rescue of reason plucks me out of my turmoil. I realize that I can simply upgrade my hard drive, and RAM for a third of the cost of a new Mac. My digital life once again electrifies me! Six types of screwdrivers later and one horrendous trip to Best Buy, and my upgraded dreams have come true.
What is it about receiving something new that makes us nostalgic for the old? It's almost immediate. In the emotional battle of the New Year, perhaps we get caught up in the idea that "If it’s not new, it’s not for you.” I challenge you to remember the significance of the old sturdy and slightly used in the New Year. Sure pimp out the details, tweak the design, or spruce up the inner workings. But most likely a subtle change can satisfy your “death and destruction to the old and familiar” inklings.
You might be considering constructing a whole new you this year! Don’t forget all the wonderful gifts and talents of the old you. You are really just upgrading. You are improving an older model because they truly “Don’t make them the way the use to.”