Jess of Empty Emptor found a cool website that focuses on people's spending habits and the relationships between shopping and happiness. Registered users can participate in all sorts of online tests and quizes to check how they consume, how materialistic they are etc. I took a test regarding compulsive and impulsive shopping, and guess what? After all the sweat and tears I've shed over learning to be smarter with my shopping, my test scores suggest that I might suffer from a form of obsessive-compulsive (OCD) shopping with severe impulse control disorder (ICD) tendencies. It seems that I am still just as clueless about shopping as I was when I first started learning to shop smart.
Looking at my test scores (I scored 3.0 on the OCD scale, compared to 2.2 average for females, and a whopping 7.0 on the ICD scale, compared to 3.6 average for females), my first reaction was that the test must be wrong. I thought that I'd be way below the average, especially on the OCD scale. See, I like to think that I've come a long way. I no longer buy random stuff online, I've pretty much abandoned buying anything new. I buy good-quality clothes that have something special about them. I no longer buy stuff "just because" or to make myself feel better. So here's what I was thinking: the test must have been drafted in such a way that it skews the facts. I feel pretty good about my shopping these days, and here's this test, telling me that I might suffer from pretty intense behavioral problems that could be categorized as an anxiety disorder. A compulsive buyer buys things because he/she is too preoccupied with the act of buying. An impulsive buyer buys things without planning it beforehand. The test says I'm it.
Yikes. It's time for The Waves to look in the mirror. And here's what I see:
I am okay with admitting that I am an impulsive buyer. I buy almost all of my clothes second hand, and the aspect of the treasure hunt in thrifting is pretty much the reason why I tend to buy things impulsively. You just never know what you might find, and there are times when one might not realize that one needs that perfectly cut suede pencil skirt before one sees it on the rack at the thrift store. I try to thrift with a plan or a purpose, but it's tough sometimes. One might need a pair of black trousers, but finds a gorgeous 1950s floral dress instead. A thrifter will not leave the dress behind just because she needs the trousers. She will buy the dress and make it work, because it would be a shame to not jump on such a wonderful opportunity. She might even buy the dress for a friend, or a sister, because the dress deserves to be "saved". I admit to giving myself that type of leeway while thrifting. I'll even go beyond that and admit that because thrifting is cheap and a lot of fun, I have more clothes than I need. Overall, I still have less clothes than I used to own, and I still do my very best to get rid of one thing if I buy another. But I do like my revolving-door wardrobe, I do. The truth is, then, that I am an impulsive buyer. I buy clothes without planning in advance. But is it a problem? Is impulsive buying automatically a bad thing? When it comes to thrifting, you pretty much have to be impulsive. You snooze, you lose. I'm going to go ahead and say that yes, I am an impulsive buyer - but only when it comes to clothing. I can accept that. It's just the name of the game if you are a thrift shop enthusiast.
The aspect of obsessive-compulsive buying is a tougher one for me. No matter how much I'd like to be able to trust the test score and the findings that come from it, I just... can't. I can't be more OCD about buying than most women! I don't feel like I shop compulsively, not anymore. There are plenty of times when I could buy things, times when I am tempted to buy something crazy, and I truly keep myself in check these days. I no longer get a rush from handing over the money like I used to. I can leave a charity shop without buying anything - I rarely do, but I can. My rush comes from really liking the clothes I buy and from wearing them, not from throwing money at the cashier. So I don't know what to think. And then it hits me: am I just like a junkie, who says that she could stop anytime? I think of the Great American Apparel Diet from two years ago, and yeah, we all remember how long I lasted before I started coming up with all sorts of excuses to buy clothes. Or the twelve allowed items of clothing last year - it took me about 6 months to reach the number, and the rest of the year was all trousers and sweaters and other warm clothes piling up. Yes, I've gotten rid of a huge amount of clothes in the last year or so, and yes, my closets are less crammed than they once were. I like my clothes much more than I used to, because I buy better clothes. But am I just denying the fact that I still have a problem? Am I learning to shop smarter so that I can keep telling myself that I don't have a problem, so that I can just keep shopping and spinning that revolving door?
Well, if I am perfectly honest, the answer is probably yes. I don't believe in a "ready" wardrobe, and I don't see myself deciding to stop thrifting. No way. I might be better at controlling the number of pieces in my wardrobe these days, but I still like to change things up, to get rid of one thing and buy another. I like to have pretty clothes, and I like to have new (new to me, anyway) clothes every once in a while. My style has started to set in and find its elements, but I still like to experiment with a new piece here and there. I like the revolving door, because that's who I am.
A long time ago I had a conversation with a friend about personality. My friend felt that people's personalities were fixed in place, that one's personality must be clearly definable. Someone fickle and restless, someone not sure about his or her values or beliefs, my friend thought, had no real personality. Those types of people couldn't really exist at all, because they didn't fulfill their part of being a real human being. I remember sitting in my friend's car, on the passenger seat, feeling a huge lump sit on the bottom of my stomach. I had no religion, I felt unsure about what life was all about, I didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up. My opinions felt, at times, like warm clay - easy to mold, tough to grasp. I felt like I was open to the world - nothing more, nothing less. I had no personality, my friend told me. "But this is who I am", I said. "I am fickle and uncertain, and I like change. I like myself the way I am, analytical and prone to asking questions rather than providing others with answers. That is my personality." My friend shook his head in disbelief. We drove for a long time, not speaking. It was obvious that there was an enormous chasm between us, one that would later become continents-and-oceans wide, lives apart.
I tell you this story because...
... yeah, whaddayagonnado. I am who I am. Just shoot me.
I'm just going to take comfort in the fact that the online test doesn't give you a score analysis - just a comparison with the other participants. Maybe the others were lying.