Is Shut Up a Bad Word(s)?

The end of the year is prime time for reflection. People make resolutions, vowing to start new habits to enrich or improve – or both – their lives, and I’m no different. Except, I’ve already started.

I have two big goals not just for 2020, but for the rest of my life, and they’re related: to be conscious and more considerate of how much and what I consume, and to shop a ton less. For the forseeable future, I’m going to try my hardest not to buy anything that I don’t need.

Obliquely, both of these things relate to money, but that’s not the only reason I’ve undertaken steps to inculcate these new philosophies into my life. I want to eliminate unnecessary things in my home and in my life in general to declutter my mental and physical space. I want to leave a smaller carbon footprint on the world, and I want to spent less money on things, so that I can save more for experiences, travel and comfort.

It’s about clearing the decks, removing distractions, promoting mental strength and space so that my creativity is not stunted or limited in any way. Spending less is a natural and much appreciated by product of removing irritants that negatively impact my work, my relationships and hinder goal setting and goal fulfillment.

I’m the first to admit that I have a long way to go. These things didn’t just occur to me. I’ve been mulling over these life changes for a good part of 2019, and still managed to buy my weight in athleisure wear and skincare that I do not need. I don’t need anything, thank God, but when I see something I like, sometimes I still have to fight with myself not to buy it.

If you’re a shopper you know what I mean. We know better. We want to do better. We know instinctively that change a la being more frugal is definitely a good thing. It is not, however, always easy, and when you’re trying to develop new habits, consistency can be an issue, at least at first.

I’ve been doing a whole lot better. But when it comes to frugality and minimalism, I still have quite a long way to go. A fact that was – unnecessarily – brought home to me today.

I was in the post office waiting in line to retrieve my packages. My favorite USPS worker greeted me before I even stepped up to the counter, and we asked after each others’ Christmases. As always I spoke in a funny drawl to make her laugh.

While she was waiting for the credit card to process for the man in front of me, she retrieved my packages. I ordered plum extract and dried seaweed to accompany the soju I’m having with a friend tomorrow – note to Amazon, please use smaller packages. You’re making me feel guilty since I can’t recycle those big ass boxes, each one containing one item, natch – I also ordered some exfoliating pads for my face, as I have run out.

She said something, loudly about my too large stack of boxes. It was either about the number of packages, or that I was at it again with the shopping, and before I could think about it, I said, “shut up.”

I immediately sensed a change in the atmosphere, and I thought, uh oh. Was that too mean? Then I thought, is that the point? I said it in a joking, sing song way she should be familiar with so as not to hurt her, but I meant it.

Like many women who like to shop and who are struggling not to, I’m sensitive about my packages. I do not need USPS to act as shopaholics anonymous sponsor slash financial monitoring service, especially at full volume in front of a room full of people. Let a sister keep some dignity, if you please, because the struggle is real.

Yes, I know better. Sales are a racket – there’s always another one despite the urgency they successfully drum up in your soul making you think you’re missing out if you don’t buy that color block or leopard print button down ASAP – and as I’ve already stated, I’m fully aware that in the past I’ve simply done too much.

But in my defense, in recent months I’ve slowed down drastically. Times gone by I’d come to the post office every week like clockwork and retrieve so many packages I could barely carry them to the car without making two trips. Now I may not come for weeks, and then it’s to pick up my party favors – recall the seaweed and soju accompaniment, which I bought with an Amazon gift card I got for Christmas, thank you very much – and a skincare replacement product I need because I actually ran out of something!

I’m trying to make a point right now, hence this detailed explanation, but I felt compelled to offer some explanation then too, which got on my nerves. Hence, the shut up. She must have felt some type of way about it too, because right after I said it, she shared her own story of too many packages being delivered to her home, etc.

I’ll probably apologize to my post office friend next time I see her, even though I think she was out of line. I don’t want to be mean to her, and she’s always given me excellent service. It would be sad if she treated me coldly or as though we were strangers when we inevitably meet over the counter.

But as my favorite USPS worker knows better than anyone since she is privy to the evidence, I’m struggling, and have been struggling, with my love of shopping. She has seen the deluge of packages at my worst, and she’s also seen them dwindle.

End of day, friendly, long standing relationship or not, I’m not sure it’s appropriate for her to try and publicly shame me. Let’s have a care and be encouraging rather than try to embarrass one other. I’m on the increased kindness train, and I’m going to require that everyone around me get on it too. Else, you may find yourself on the other end of “shut up.” Funny voice and all, I’m not the type to say, “just kidding.” I mean what I say.

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