Boring Wardrobe – or Boring Life?

Pondering life boredom issues

Is it really your wardrobe you’re bored with?

In recent weeks, I’ve been complaining about my boredom with my Project 333 wardrobe capsule.  I haven’t been excited to wear the same 33 garments over and over again and have found myself yearning for the wide selection I had with my pre-challenge closet.  I reasoned that if I could just have more clothes to choose from, I might feel excited about my wardrobe again.

My Wardrobe is Not the Problem

Although a wider selection of garments might quell my wardrobe ennui for a short period of time, I suspect that the boredom would come back with a vengeance before too long.  Then I would reason that more shopping would be necessary to inject new life and versatility into my closet.  I would then go shopping, buy new things, and feel excited and happy for a while, only to see the boredom creep back in a few weeks later.

Why am I never satisfied with my wardrobe for more than a few weeks at a time (if that)Because my wardrobe is not the problem.  My problem is not that I’m dissatisfied with my wardrobe; it’s that I’m unhappy with my life. Trying to cure life dissatisfaction issues through shopping is akin to taking an antacid to cure a headache.  The prescription doesn’t fit the problem it’s attempting to solve.

Working with a Stylist isn’t a Cure-All

While I’m not suggesting that my wardrobe is perfect and cannot be improved in any way, this is far from my biggest problem.  A few readers have suggested that I hire a personal stylist to help me evolve my wardrobe and my style, and that’s not a bad idea.  I definitely have blind spots when it comes to my own style. I have a lot of “rules” that probably don’t make logical sense, and my body image issues get in the way of my taking risks in terms of what I wear.

I’m sure that having an unbiased professional with me when I’m shopping would enable me to make better sartorial choices, so I’m considering hiring a stylist to shop with me at some point in the future.  However, until I deal with the underlying issues that lead me to shop too much, I will likely continue to be unhappy with my wardrobe and feel compelled to shop (and shop and shop).   I may look more polished and stylish on the outside, but that won’t fix what’s wrong with my psyche and my life.

A Compelling Question…

As I was considering my boredom with my wardrobe the other day, the following question popped into my head:

Am I bored with my wardrobe – or my life?”

Of course, the answer could be “both,” but in all honesty, I have to say that my life is more the problem. I feel ungrateful and even “bratty” to say this, because I have a good life compared to most people in the world, but my life feels really “small.”  I spend most days at home and don’t interact with many other people on a regular basis.  My husband and I live in a two-bedroom apartment with our two cats and we share a home office.  I adore my husband and cats and feel incredibly grateful to have them, but I also crave more interaction with others.

Life Transitions and Interpersonal Challenges

I have worked primarily from home for the past twelve years in a variety of employment, contract, and freelance roles.  Much of the work I’ve done is rather solitary, with little ongoing collaboration with others.  I used to be involved in more extracurricular activities, including business networking groups, Toastmasters, comedy improv classes, personal growth seminars, and volunteer work. I also used to have a small circle of friends with whom I got together on a semi-regular basis.  My husband and I even had some “couples friends” to interact with from time to time.

Much of that is now gone, for a variety of reasons.  Friends moved away or we simply grew apart, and I either tired of my activities or they ran their course.  While I am still lucky enough to have a few friends, most of them don’t live near me or are very busy with their own activities.  I don’t have children, so that avenue of connecting with others (kid’s friends’ parents, etc.) is not open to me.  It has become increasingly difficult to make friends as I’ve aged, and the fact that I’m an introvert doesn’t help matters much.   I’ve attended some Meetup groups, but it’s hard to make the leap from activity co-participants to friends.

Shopping as a Hobby and a Business

So, what do I do to add excitement and fun to my life?  You know the answer… I shop!  Shopping, creating new outfits, and managing my wardrobe have been my primary hobbies for a number of years.  In 2011, I had the bright idea to turn this hobby into a business, so I became a wardrobe consultant.

While the work I’ve done with clients has been very rewarding, the extensive marketing required to gain new customers has made it difficult to grow the business beyond a sideline venture.   Not only do I have concerns about the viability of this business, I also wonder if it’s even a good idea for a compulsive shopper (who very much wants to change) to have a business that centers around shopping and clothes.

The Real Problems…

I’ve changed jobs and careers a lot throughout my lifetime, and I fear I will have to do so once again.  I have a lot of confidence issues related to my lack of career success and I feel ashamed of my struggles in this area.  I also feel sad that I have so little interpersonal connection in my life.  In addition, I suffer from a number of health issues for which solutions have been eluded me.  These are the real problems in my life, not my “boring wardrobe” or the fact that I only have 33 garments to choose from during April through June.

Shopping Won’t Fill Our Emotional Holes

Perhaps some of you can relate to my struggle.  I know that most compulsive shoppers shop for a variety of reasons beyond actual wardrobe needs, and even if we actually do need new clothes, such items won’t fill the emotional holes in our hearts.

There are no easy answers, but admitting the problem is an important first step.  Now that I realize I’m bored with aspects of my life, I can set about to determine how to inject more excitement into my days by means other than shopping.  Writing my blog is helping, but I also need to get out more and pursue new hobbies, interests, and relationships.  As for work, that’s a big question mark at present, but packing my closet with more clothes won’t help me to find the ever elusive career success I desire.

Recovery Tip

If you find yourself feeling bored with your wardrobe, or if you look in your closet and declare that you have “nothing to wear,” you might want to pause for a moment. Ask yourself if it’s really your wardrobe you’re bored with.  Perhaps, like me, there are larger issues at play.  I don’t have all of the answers, but maybe I’ve helped you to ask some of the bigger questions.


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Comments

  1. A brave post. What interests you that might enable you to get out of the house and find satisfaction in the activity and other people involved?

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Juhli! I am considering my options at present… So far, I plan to take a few classes and investigate volunteer opportunities. I may also revisit some of my hobbies and interests from the past to see if I might enjoy them again.

  2. Cornelia says:

    You really faced all the issues head-on, haven’t you? I never had the career that I had imagined I would have had for a variety of reason and now entered the work force at a really late age again. I am 57 and thankful that someone (whom I knew through church) was willing to take a chance on me. Being very much an introvert myself, I have always been really good at entertaining myself with reading, cooking, baking and gardening (all solitary activities; notice a pattern???) And you are right, of course, that anything one does outside of reasonable limits is an expression of some dissatisfaction. I may have suggested it in one of my previous comments, but nothing has grounded me more than volunteering. Even in those financially strapped days when my husband just started out on his own, it taught me how much I have and what to be thankful for. I read books to children who had no running water in their ‘house’. It is something I will never forget.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Cornelia. It sounds like you can really relate to my challenges. I hope your new work is enjoyable and fulfilling for you. You’re right about volunteering and how it can help us to be more grateful and feel more valuable in the world. I’ve done a lot of volunteering in the past, but took a hiatus for awhile after becoming burned out. I plan to find a new volunteer avenue soon. I’m not sure what I will do, but I know there is a lot of need out there!

  3. Rochelle says:

    Interesting post. It’s all about balancing everything, even shopping, your life and your wardrobe. It’s okay to improve your wardrobe while dealing with your issues. I believe that looking good now will help you feel better later. Wearing boring clothes can reflect who you are and how you feel. Why not hire a stylist now? I heard great stories about people hiring a stylist. Not only they were able to improve their wardrobe, they were also able to improve their life.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, balance is of paramount importance! I’ve worked with two stylists in the past (in 2005 and 2007), but never shopped with them because I was always “behind the 8-ball” with my budget. They helped me with cleaning out my closet and putting outfits together and made suggestions for what to buy. That started me on the journey to improving my style and my confidence, but there is always room to grow in that respect. As I mentioned, I’m sure shopping with a stylist would be helpful and something I will likely do, but I also need to take some of the other steps I mentioned and follow some of the advice mentioned by other readers.

      • Rochelle says:

        Yes, shopping with a stylist would be helpful and a great learning experience. I never had one.

        I’m currently building my own functional minimal wardrobe, starting with what I have. It is a long term project. I stumbled across your blog while I was looking for some inspirations online to get me started. Project 333 is an interesting concept that got me curious. So I read some of the bloggers’ experiences to see if it’s doable. I enjoy reading yours.

        I can understand what you’re going through. I work at home too. It can be very lonely. So I have a wonderful dog who thrive on attention, affection and activity. I also have good friends who enjoy doing the same things as I do during my free time.

        Your readers offer great suggestions. I’m glad that you are following some of theirs. I wish you all the best in your journey.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks, Rochelle! You’re right in that building a functional minimal wardrobe is a long-term project. Culling the things that don’t work is an important first step that I’m still working on. I will be posting an update on that soon, as we reach the halfway point of the year. Time for another wardrobe inventory! Glad you like my blog. Thank you for your good wishes!

  4. I can really understand this. I’ve always liked shopping a little too much, but when my husband was transferred from New England to North Carolina and then to Tennessee 9 months later is when my problems really started. Shopping became my number 1 form of entertainment. I also work from home and don’t have children. Although I am fortunate to have a group of close friends, I still spend a lot of time alone. Another thing that I noticed is the deeper I got into shopping, the less interested I was in things that I used to enjoy. I didn’t read as much, the baseball game was on but I was running back and forth to check ebay, etc. Since I have been letting go of shopping I have noticed I am enjoying these things again. Someone mentioned volunteering. I think that would be a great way for you to get out. You said that you have cats. Maybe the animal shelter could use a hand. You said that you enjoy writing and were considering a book. How about a writing class? You seem like a very nice person and you take the time to respond to every comment with a thoughtful reply. I don’t think that you will have any trouble making friends if you put yourself in situations where you have the opportunity.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      It sounds like we have a lot in common, Tonya. Thanks for your suggestions. I have volunteered at the local animal shelter in the past and might revisit that. As for a writing class, I took an online class recently and plan to take an in-person class in July as well. The online classes and connections are wonderful, but I need some in-person interaction as well. I think the classes (I’m going to try to find more, too) and the volunteering will definitely help!

  5. You hit the main target! I believe this is the MAIN reason why there’s a consumption epidemic in this country. Boredom leads to unhappiness leads to stress leads to shopping to fill that hole. This post really gets to the heart of what you are exploring. Bravo Debbie! I think this post would be the perfect departure point to discuss how you can change your life. I very much look forward to read more on your thoughts of this topic.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks so much, Wendy! I will definitely have more posts on this topic. I’ve written a lot about shopping and wardrobe thus far, and those topics will continue to be explored. But I also need to delve into the tagline, which is “Trade your full closet for a full life” and that will entail finding other things to love besides shopping. I hope my journey in that regard will help to inspire others!

  6. Very brave of you to be so honest – it’s much appreciated.
    Have you considered taking an adult education class in something just for fun?
    I took an art class and it opened up a whole new world for me!
    I had no idea that would happen…

    wishing you the best!
    (& you do still have us – your internet friends…)
    🙂 Chris

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I very much appreciate my internet friends and I’m lucky to have you! Thanks for your continued encouragement. Interestingly, I do plan to take some adult education classes this summer, including a writing class. I’ve taken such classes in the past and I not only learned new things, I met some nice people, too. I’m glad the art class did that for you! I will share what I’m doing in future posts…

  7. Debbie, I’m enjoying your blog and I dearly appreciate your honesty and candor. Thank you also for your comment and for sharing my blog post with your readers. But I don’t think I am farther along on the path. Regaining a focus and reducing the amount of clothes I have means that I’m always a “work in progress.” Maintaining a small wardrobe requires frequent revaluation and editing, and since my needs will change from time to time, I need to pay careful attention that I’m adding what I need and removing the things that are no longer useful to me, and not permit myself to fall back into the rut of thinking I need to stock up on clothes and allowing excess to creep in. The good news is that I have begun to notice other aspects of my life that are improving in wonderful ways. I now think carefully before I buy anything, including food and home care items. And I’m de-cluttering my commitments and allowing myself more free time and breathing space. I’ve been too busy to notice whether or not my wardrobe is boring, and I don’t think that is a good thing. I need to make some changes in my life too, and the first change I want to make is to slow down, and sit out back and watch the peaches ripen on the tree.

    • PS – Most importantly, Debbie I can identify with your current dissatisfaction with your life. Although I’m not feeling dissatisfied currently and haven’t in many years, in the past I shopped to fill the void. I shopped to find my identity, to fill up my emptiness and because I was lonely. Most of all I shopped for clothes for the life I hoped to gain. But now that I don’t do this anymore, and now that my time (and my mind) is no longer filled with thoughts of clothes, it has occurred to me to wonder if I’ve been keeping myself overly busy with work in the same addictive way that you shop, asking myself have I become a workaholic? So I’ve cut back on my work load, trimmed back my volunteer hours. That candid conversation article Martha and I wrote about emotionally charged clothing issue topics, and what we’ve learned by living through them, along with this post you have given here, is sending me on yet another journey into self discovery… Thank you! Because I want to keep traveling forward!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      You are so right that we are always a “work in progress.” Although a smaller wardrobe may require more frequent editing, you are more likely to use what you have and less likely to make mistakes. In response to my last post, one reader suggested buying only one thing at a time and that suggestion resonated for me. I had a tendency to buy lots of the same thing, but then if that type of item didn’t work for me or if my preferences changed, I had to get rid of a lot of clothes that had barely been worn. If there was only one such item, there would be far less waste.

      It’s great that your decluttering has filtered into other areas of your life. For me, the other areas came first and the wardrobe is one of my last clutter holdouts. As for busyness, it can be a double-edged sword. I think the key is balance, but that is not an easy target to reach! I used to be a workaholic, too, and I think that’s just another form of compulsive behavior, another way of avoiding that which we don’t want to face within ourselves. Too much of any good thing can become a bad thing. For example, I did too much volunteering in the past, such that I have done NONE at all over the past couple of years. Moderation is harder than “cold turkey” in my book. I hope to reach that with shopping, working, volunteering, and all other things. I wish that for you as well!

  8. Rebecca Ladd says:

    Very brave post! I think the solution is easier than you think. You should volunteer somewhere. A soup kitchen, teaching literacy to adults, reading with struggling students in a school, at a children’s hospital. Something. Your whole life will expand. And you won’t be so focused on which shirt you need to wear today. You’ll lose your taste for shopping. And you’ll be a bigger person.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Welcome and thanks for your comment, Rebecca! Others suggested volunteering as well and it’s something I’ve done quite a bit in the past. I agree that it can be very beneficial and I plan to it again! I got burned out before, so I will need to learn moderation in volunteering just like I have to do with shopping. But it’s a valuable pursuit, as you said, and can make a big difference to others and to the person who is volunteering!

      • There are so many volunteer opportunities available with such different time commitments. If your past volunteering led to burn out perhaps consider what you hope to get from volunteering as well as what you will give. For example, I will give donations to organizations dealing with illness or other sad situations but not volunteer with them as I bring the sadness home. I need an uplifting/positive cause for where I spend my time and an opportunity to spend time with others rather than work in isolation. It took some trial and error to find my current volunteer situation and I am now considering adding a different type with the same criteria applied.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Great tips on volunteering, Juhli – thanks! I used to volunteer in the more sad situations, but now I have moved more toward giving donations to those charities like you’ve done. I think I need to write a list of the criteria I’d ultimately like in a volunteer situation and then work to find something that meets all or most of those criteria. I think your point about considering what one hopes to GET from a volunteer situation as well as what one plans to GIVE is an excellent one! We often feel we’re selfish to have such considerations, but our needs are important, too! Why not have it be a win, win situation?

  9. Marianne says:

    Wow what a revelation! I am amazed what participating in project 333 has brought to your perspective. I am a homemaker and it can be very lonely being at home. Volunteering at a hospital really helped me feel less lonely and grateful for what I have. I also made a few office friends there too. But, I really think you are a great writer and a writers workshop would be a perfect fit for you. There’s a book here girl – there really is.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your compliments re: my writing! I plan to take a writing class this summer and definitely plan to write a book as well. Re: the volunteering, I’ve addressed that quite a bit in response to other comments. I agree it’s a great way to feel less lonely and more valuable!

  10. Debbie your ability to see and acknowledge the main underlying reason for your dissatisfaction with your wardrobe and shopping addiction means you are now ready to take action. I applaud your honesty and bravery and you write so movingly that I wanted to be able to give you a big hug across the miles.
    The suggestions made by Cornelia, Terra and others of volunteering at an animal shelter or attending adult education classes in a subject of interest are excellent. You only need try one of those avenues and you may discover a whole new group of like-minded people. Your gift for writing is also something you might like to explore – and you could add in a more social setting like a creative writing class for example.
    Whatever steps you take you know that you have made many internet friends who wish you nothing but the best 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I accept your long-distance hug, Megan, and I appreciate it! I’m very grateful to have readers / internet friends like you who wish me well. All of the suggestions here have been wonderful and I plan to take on at least some of them, if not all!

  11. I love this post! Such a great sense of awareness and what you want to do to make yourself happy. So exciting to see you moving forward in your personal journey.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Sara! I’m glad you liked the post and I appreciate your continued support for my journey.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    You are very brave and honest. I applaud your willingness to share your vulnerability with us, your internet friends/strangers. I think many (most?) of us share your existential loneliness — for me, the solution was to force myself to volunteer with a local hospice. I literally had to drag myself there the first time, dreading the interaction and wondering if I was crazy — in the end, though, it was redemptive and rewarding. As people always say, I got more from the experience than I gave. It changed my life.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Elizabeth! I can identify with the feeling of dragging yourself to volunteer. I’ve been there and may feel that way again when I take such a step, but I know that we often have to push ourselves to do things that will help us grow. I love to help others and while I’m glad this blog serves that purpose, I also plan to do in-person things to contribute as well.

  13. This is a great post, Debbie. As an introvert myself, I’m impressed that you took comedy improv classes! I’m curious to know, were you more content when your life was more full of people and activities, or were you simply busier, thus had less time and desire to shop? And though spirituality/religion is definitely one’s personal choice, I’m wondering if you’ve ever done any exploration along those lines? No need to share that one way or the other, it’s just a thought I’ve had as I read your blog.
    And I agree with Marianne about your writing gift!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      To clarify, I never actually performed comedy improv other than in front of my classmates, but the class did help me to decrease some of my self-consciousness (and it was fun, too). To answer your questions, I do have less time and desire to shop when my life is fuller, but I still had a shopping problem during those times (but it wasn’t quite as detrimental to my life). In regards to spirituality/religion, I’ve done TONS of exploration in that area but haven’t found the right fit for myself as of yet. I know it can bring a lot of solace and fulfillment and am still open to it providing it for me in the future (haven’t given up yet!). Thanks for your kind words re: my writing!

  14. Fantastic post, and I couldn’t agree more. I am exactly the same: shopping is a boredom breaker to me. But not only that, shopping also provides this possibility of portraying an image of yourself as you would like to be, and this is what makes it so tempting. I am unhappy with my life, so I dress like the successful / glamorous (insert whatever) woman I would like to be. But that’s only changing the clothes, and not the circumstances. This is what I meant recently with shopping for the lives we want, and not the lives we have! I lived in Dublin, Ireland for five years and I really struggled with the cold summers there. Paradoxically, I spent quite a lot of money on beachy summer dresses that I could never wear anywhere. I was yearning for a different lifestyle, and I was shopping accordingly. The other year we moved to Spain (the beachy dresses are finally getting some airing), but I still find myself shopping for sophisticated dresses (picture “ladies lunch in Paris or London”), yet I haven’t got anywhere to wear these clothes to, and I am certainly missing the girlfriends and time spent with them a few years back. Living away from my home country has meant that maintaining friendships and forming new ones has proven difficult, and not having a social network has really knocked a big hole in my quality of life. I’m busy during the week, but the evenings and weekends can be a problem. I find myself shuffling clothes around a lot (I have too many, they haven’t got a real home anywhere…), feeling overwhelmed by it all and then going out and buying some more. I think I need to completely take the focus of the shopping and get into something else. However, it is hard. If shopping has been the (albeit unsuccesssful) cure for so many years it is difficult to even think about what else could be stimulating and interesting. A number of people have suggested to volunteer somewhere and I think this is a great idea as it’s good for the “soul”.
    Debbie, this is great blog, you are sharing some great insights and I also agree with some voices above that you are an excellent writer! Maybe you’ll find the career that you desire in writing – you most certainly have the talent.

    • And sorry for all the waffling! Your blog always speaks to me and I feel compelled to reply!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your powerful insights, K. I didn’t feel you were waffling at all and I appreciate your input. I can definitely identify with much of what you wrote. I often bought clothes for how I wanted my life to be instead of what it was and those clothes went unworn. I am trying to break myself of these habits now, but it’s taking a lot of concentrated effort to do so. I have to talk myself out of buying the “maybe, sometime” clothes even though I feel compelled to buy them. Having clothes that just sit in my closet only makes me feel worse about myself because I think of the wasted money and feel guilty. I’m also reminded that I don’t have that life that I bought for. Lose, lose proposition! Awareness is the first step to change, so both you and I can stop these destructive buying habits!

      Thanks for your compliments on my writing! I’ve always loved to write and would love to have a career in that field. Perhaps it will happen! I am open to the possibility, for sure.

    • FrugalFashionista says:

      K, your life sounds a lot like mine! I’m a serial expat and know exactly what you are talking about. I’ve started overshopping both to ‘belong’ and to fit a fantasy lifestyle during my years abroad.

  15. Guilty. Can we leave it at that?

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Seems like I may have a kindred spirit in you. Thanks for chiming in, E!

  16. This is an interesting post. I guess many of us (myself included) have used “shopping” as a stress or boredom reliever — one with financial consequences! I went through this journey a few years ago when I made the decision to limit my clothing budget to under $250 per year. While I never spent $4,000 a year on clothing I did “shop” on my lunch hour, paw through sales racks, and “score” bargains at discount clothing stores. I had to stop — clothing no longer held a magic charm for me. One method I used to help me stop shopping was to eliminate fashion magazines from my life and to avoid fashion websites. I spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of wardrobe I wanted and discovered that most of my clothes fit my needs. I no longer care about “fashion” per se, but focus on well-made classic clothing that will last a few years. I created a bare-bones clothing budget and limit most of my purchases to replacement items. When I do buy (in stores), I pay with cash — not a debit card. Cash. It’s more “real.” I also limit my occasional on-line purchase to those I can pay with PayPal which is linked to my checking account. Occasionally I will add a “fashionable” item to my wardrobe if I think it can become “classic.” Recently I purchased a turquoise enamel bangle “cuff” for short money. It was an inexpensive way to add pizazz.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Sounds like you have really made some great strides with your shopping, Dottie. Congrats to you! Your suggestion to eliminate fashion magazines and websites is a very good one. I haven’t completely cut them out yet, but I have pared way down and it’s helping. I also like your suggestion of paying with cash instead of even a debit card. I did that for a while a few years back, but stopped because of having to buy some items online (e.g. tall sizes which are only available through the internet). Your suggestion of using PayPal could be a good solution for that, so I thank you. Using cash definitely helps purchases to see more “real.” For some reason, credit card purchases don’t pack the same punch in terms of “Wow, I spent THAT.”

  17. FrugalFashionista says:

    Debbie, another fantastic post and fantastic insight! I struggle with many of the same issues you do. I’m an extrovert who has been trapped at home for the past 5 years, abroad (=far away from my oldest friends), with small children (=often not free in the evenings when regular people socialize). I overshop to fill a void / to deal with negative emotions (particularly, boredom, feelings of emptiness and disappointment).

    Over the past couple of days, my favorite family member has been visiting. We’ve been out to restaurants, sightseeing, and just spending time together. I haven’t thought about shopping at all and haven’t experienced any overshopping urges!!!

    This has made me realize that I’ve recently given up several important hobbies. For years, I used to take language courses, and they were a good mix of meeting new people and intellectual challenges. I also loved movies, and went out to see a film at least once a month either with a friend or my husband. I even went to film festivals – something that I truly enjoyed. And I traveled much more than I do now. (With all the money I spend on unneeded clothes and accessories, I could make several really interesting trips.)

    I’ve realized I’m overshopping because I 1) miss sensory stimulation (films, art, travel used to take care of this) and 2) miss intellectual stimulation (the thrill of the hunt is a bit similar to the thrill and challenge of learning new things).

    I may be an amateur psychologist but clearly I need to find new interests that stimulate my intellect and senses. I’m already taking small daily steps in this direction. Sensory stimulation: I’m fixing up our terrace with a few plants; cooking and baking more, and thinking about seeing some films. Intellectual stimulation: I’ve blocked all shopping sites from my computer but am allowed to use my Kindle (=reading a lot) and read a couple of brainy newspapers / news magazines. I’m thinking of starting either a new language course in the fall or picking up a new intellectual hobby (possibly reading a college textbook in an area I’ve always been interested in but have never been able to study). And I’m actively getting in touch with old friends and relatives, inviting people to visit, organizing meetups, and trying to make a few new ones.

    You should definitely attend some writing courses. You are a natural writer – I could definitely see a new career for you in that! (Nothing wrong with being a stylist, but stopping shopping when you are exposed to temptations all the time is really hard. By limiting my exposures, I’ve limited my urges.) Some writing workshops can also be social!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Congrats on your insights and progress! How great that you’ve been enjoying time with a loved one without shopping and are re-discovering lost passions and interests. I enjoy film, too, but have never been to a film festival. Something to add to my list! You have some great insights and we share some of the same reasons for overshopping. I like the ideas of blocking shopping sites from my computer… I definitely plan to take a writing course and it would be wonderful if I met some nice people as well as learned more on how to improve my writing!

  18. FrugalFashionista says:

    Debbie, you are probably a more advanced writer than I am, but a couple of books that can really shake the boredom and get you going (I picked nonfiction-oriented ones, as you seem really talented in that area):
    William Zinsser: On Writing Well
    Julia Cameron: The Right to Write
    And to enjoy really great nonfiction, read anything by Joan Didion.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for the tips! I will check out those books. I am familiar with Julia Campbell and read “The Artist’s Way,” but haven’t read the book you mentioned. I need to read Joan Didion! I’ve read about her books but have yet to pick one up as of yet. Adding her to the list, too!

  19. “While I’ve varied my purchases in terms of colors and patterns, the shape and fabrication of a majority of my garments is much the same. In addition to my psychological “need” for shopping, I think I was also motivated to shop as a result of a functional lack that I felt but couldn’t pinpoint.”

    “Treasure hunt”

    Debbie-

    The above are quotes from your blogs. When I read about color and pattern, I think art class-you don’t have to have skills in the area to play with color and pattern in a different way. I once took an “Art to Wear Class” and found out I could sketch. Treasure hunting sounds like a skill that could be used in another context. All that comes to mind is being a Buyer. Translating your ability to find things could lead to an interesting activity. (I’d like to be a buyer for an art museum gift shop.) You might volunteer for a charity resale shop to help them select the “good items” from their donations.

    Close relationships are harder to maintain in middle age. You have to make an extra effort to keep in touch with people. I have a friend who says she tries to make friends with someone in every generation. I’ve done the volunteer work thing, only to have the activities be working alone.

    What finally made a difference for me was taking up the Argentine Tango! I’m not a natural dancer and my husband does not dance. I felt a need to move my body around. I tried Zumba, but didn’t care for the urban music they’d play. A friend introduced me to the local tango community. It challenges me to learn, focus completely on the dance and to be close with a group of people I wouldn’t know otherwise. I’ve kept at it for over 3 years.

    I used to be an ardent shopper, but I now have an overwhelming amount of clothing that I haven’t decluttered. My will to shop was curtailed by physical stamina and lack of cash flow.
    I have spent less than $50 on clothes this year. I’ve learned that goals don’t have to be about things.

    Debbie you do a great job on this blog. I hope you can find what you need to bring yourself more joy and happiness.

    Jeri

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Jeri! I’m glad you like my blog and I thank you for your good wishes! How cool about your fun with the Argentine Tango! I’ve seen it on “Dancing with the Stars” and it’s a very intense and sexy dance. My husband and I have considered taking ballroom dance classes, but I have bad feet (not to mention 2 left feet!) and am not sure it would be a good fit for me. Perhaps worth a try, though.

      Thanks for your suggestions on things I might enjoy doing. I’ve considered helping at a charity resale shop nearby, but I don’t resonate with the others who volunteer there (all much older than me and many aren’t very friendly). Like you, I’ve often ended up doing very solitary activities when I’ve volunteered. I would like to have more interpersonal interaction the next time around. I want to contribute and interact and know the possibility is out there.

  20. Debbie, your honesty is so refreshing. I can identify with so many of the things you talk about in this post. You are an inspiration to many!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Lynn! I’m so happy to be able to inspire others!

  21. I admire your courage in talking about this issue. I work from home some of the week, but also have another job where I go out in the mornings two days a week. I would go crazy without getting out of the house. I have a handful of close friends I meet for coffee once every three or four weeks, and have been involved in school committees for years where I have met some wonderful people. This also keeps me busy. I had “my colours” done 20 years ago, and am happy with most of the clothes in my wardrobe. The basics are dark, but the tops and accessories are all bright and cheerful. Because I feel good in these colours, I don’t get bored with them, and tend to wear the same things over and over again. I have lost interest in shopping – this is possibly because our closest shopping centre is undergoing huge renovations and parking is a real hassle. Also, we were flooded in Queensland (Australia) in 2011, and lost a lot of things. Occasionally I miss one of the items we lost, but I don’t miss most of them. This was probably the catalyst for me wanting to simplify my life. We had so much stuff and it was such a hard choice deciding what to try to save in the 12 hours warning we had that our house would be going under. It really makes you re-evaluate your life and what is important. Thank you for your blog. I have enjoyed following your journey.
    Karen

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Karen. It sounds like you really made the most out of a bad situation and found the lessons inherent in something as difficult as losing many of your belongings in a flood. Sometimes our hardest times produce the most growth for us. You really seem to be in a good place now. Good for you!

  22. Hi I came across your blog while researching articles to help me in my own journey to leading a more minimalist lifestyle and recovering from my shopping habits. This post hit home because before downsizing my closet this last month (I still have desires to go smaller), I spent way too much time on deciding what to wear etc and when I was “bored” would feel like I needed a new dress or purse to liven things up. I finally realized that my wardrobe isn’t what needs the makeover but rather my heart. So I’m volunteering and trying to direct my energies into being a full, whole and GOOD person and now understand there isn’t a perfect dress or bag that will make me those into that. The journey continues

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Welcome, Marisa, and thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad my post resonated with you. It sounds like we have some definite parallels in our experiences. We were both trying to fix the wrong problem! Congratulations on the positive changes you’re made! My journey is continuing, too, but it’s nice to know I’m on the write path. Best wishes for your continued transformation!

  23. In my opinion, being overly concerned with a wardrobe is a tad shallow. You sound insecure as a result of your shallowness. How do you overcome shallowness? Well, volunteer someplace really awful. Someplace you find dreadful. Go there and ask where you can be used. Then do it. Serve food and wash dishes at a soup kitchen. Put yourself in a situation where any little thing you do makes a difference to someone, the more menial the task the better. I went through this in my thirties and ended up volunteering to clean the bathrooms at a ministry for drug addicts and prostitutes. I had interactions with them and encouraged them because I would join the meeting afterwards at the request of the pastor. Never once did I think of my wardrobe, or anything else about my life. I felt fufilled. Thankful. Worthwhile. I havent been there in 6 years but Im going back because my shallowness is returning and Im miserable. The cure to obsessing about trivial details of your life is to spend time helping others meet the basics of theirs.God Bless. Pray where God wants to use you and be obedient.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Welcome, Dee, and thanks for your comment. I agree that too much focus on one’s wardrobe and shopping can be shallow, as can too much focus on a lot of things in life. I have come a long way since I wrote the post you commented on, but I agree that shallowness can make us miserable. Thanks for sharing your experience with volunteering. That is definitely something I plan to do more of moving forward. Blessings to you, too!

  24. I can relate to this post a lot. I’ve seen my circle of friends decrease over the years, naturally growing apart, moving, etc, and it has been really tough to find new friends. I’ve done the gym, meet-up group meetings, bookclubs, and I even horseback ride! And none of them have resulted in new close friends. I usually give a new task, 6 months, to ensure I’ve given the proper time. I can get people to say hi when they see me, but that’s always as far as it goes.

    Eventually all of these new hobbies have faded away. The only task I’ve stuck with is horseback riding because I really do enjoy it, but I lease, and most others own. So even there, I ride alone (my lease time ends before owners generally arrive to ride). And I’ve been horseback riding for 10 years, so if I was going to make a new friend from that, I would have expected that to have happened by now.

    I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m a bit shy and I don’t like to drink, or stay out late. So shopping has become my go to task. I can do it alone, but not feel as alone as I do with other tasks I’ve tried. I haven’t come up with how to fix this problem yet, I keep trying new things, but they don’t pan out.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      You and I really do seem so alike, Lisa. I don’t seem to gain friendships from my activities, either. I did make a few new friends when I took some classes a few years back, but I was in school three nights per week so I had time to get to know people. I’ve been told I’m not easy to know, which may sound strange given my openness on the blog. But I’m really quite “closed” and reserved in real life. I feel safer to communicate in writing and even though I use my real name here, most people who know me aren’t aware of my blog (unless they’ve Googled me). I also don’t like to drink (I actually can’t because I have terrible migraines) or to go to clubs, bars, and the like. I haven’t found a replacement for shopping yet, either. I just feel more lonely than I did before, although I’m happy to not be spending so much money these days. I enjoy the connections I’ve gotten through my blog, but I miss the face-to-face interactions. It’s almost a year since I wrote this post and not much has changed in terms of my loneliness. Kind of sad, really. I’m not sure what to do, but I’m not going to give up. I think it’s great that you have your horseback riding hobby, although it’s too bad it’s still so solitary. I think we have to keep trying with other hobbies and trust that one day it will work out for us. I’m not sure what else to do. I think life is a lot easier for extroverts…

      • Debbie, I used to think the same thing, extroverts have it easier. But I’ve spent more time observing those behaviors and I realized, maybe it’s not easier. I spent the past year making myself go out and do the things I felt others were doing and I was not. And I realized, I wanted better quality interactions. And if I couldn’t have better quality, I’m just not interested. I’d rather sit home with my cat and a book, then sit in a bar making small talk with a bunch of people I don’t really know. Often social engagements are centered on things I just don’t do, drink, watch reality tv shows, etc, and those are the things people are bonding over. I get bored by that. I haven’t figured out how to find quality interactions that build and grow, because that’s what I’m looking for. Not superficial one’s.

        And I’ve been told many, many times, that I am not naturally approachable. Apparently my ‘normal face’ closely resembles a scowl or anger. Sigh.

        • aren’t those social things just ice breakers to get to know others. It takes time to get to know others and build a comfort level and deepen conversations. You don’t just let your boundaries down with anyone. You have to invest your time in these mundane gatherings to help others get to know your personality and level of intelligence to see if they want to attempt friendship. If your not willing to put yourself out there, how can anyone get to know you and decide theyd like to try becoming friends.

          • I agree Dee. A lot of the social things are set up to jump start a friendship. It could be for some occasions, I haven’t put in enough time (I’ve tried 6 meet-up groups and no dice, what if number 7 was the charm right?). But for other occasions, it’s just been a bust (after 10 years of horse back riding I think it’s safe to say that one is not going to work for meeting new friends). And yet for other occasions, since I’m not really interested in the activities at hand, there isn’t much to ‘bond’ over so it could be that the boredom was showing. Great food for thought, thanks!

        • Debbie Roes says:

          You make some good points here, Lisa. I think extroverts may be looking for different types of friends, or maybe they have lots of acquaintances and a few close friends. Like you, I prefer deep conversations and deeper friendships. I also dislike small talk, but I understand that sometimes we have to do that at first until we get to know people. I just hate when it doesn’t go beyond that.

          Dee makes some good points, too. We do have to put ourselves out there and take risks, plus we have to take the time to get to know people and let them get to know us. This comes so easily for many people. My mom, for one, loves to meet new people and opens up quite easily. I didn’t get that gene. I’m much more like my reserved father. I know that I need to try harder to meet new people. Lisa, the fact that you attended 6 meetups is a good thing. I need to do more of that and try to be patient. I’m not looking for a huge social circle. I just want to feel less alone…

    • well credit card debt stopped my shopping habits. Ive almost gotten it paid off and want to start using it again, but I wont do it. I started learning how to sew maxi skirts and made several nice ones to wear with t-shirts,tanktops, jean jacket and a fleece maxi to pair with a long sleeve T and pretty flannel shirt. So I changed my look to wearing maxi skirts. And I can sew one when Im bored. The fabric costs about 12 dollars so it doesn’t break the bank. Looking for others who would like to get together and sew with me sometimes. In the winter I wear my sweatpants and thick socks with boots under my maxi skirts and it doesn’t show at all. This has really helped me with my desire for a larger wardrobe, I always look chic and feminine, have a new hobby sewing and now Im going to start offering to teach someone else and have someone over or something of a get together . I get nice comments on my outfits so Ill offer to teach someone, see where that goes. Id like some friends myself.

      • Debbie Roes says:

        Good for you for sewing maxi skirts for yourself, Dee! It sounds like it’s working out very well for you. It’s both a new hobby for you and a way to uplift your style at a low cost. Win, win! It would be great if you could find a sewing group in your area and/or teach sewing to other women. I’m sure a lot of women would like to learn how to make maxi skirts for $12. And the more you interact with other women, the more likely it will be for you to make new friends. Making new friends isn’t easy (I’m still struggling a lot, but I don’t get out much…), but it IS possible. And we don’t need LOTS of friends; a few close friends will usually suffice.

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