I am sitting in my apartment wrestling with the idea of going Black Friday shopping.
Anyone who knows me fairly well knows that this is completely unprecedented. When I worked at Wal*Mart in college, I literally saw blood shed over a Bratz doll, and that was the end of it for me. I told myself at that point that I couldn’t see a reason for ever willingly subjecting myself to the absolute nonsense of the event.
Tonight, though, for whatever reason, I decided to check and see what sales were going on at the outlet malls about two miles from our apartment.
Bad idea. Because my “I need” radar immediately started wailing.
I need some more professional clothes. I’m tired of my students remarking on how I always wear the same stuff.
I need to check into getting a new wallet for Josh, since I put his last one through the washing machine.
We need some stuff for the kitchen. Our knives are not all that awesome, and I’ve been meaning to replace our plastic containers with glass. Oh, and a French press!!
Ooh, Bed Bath and Beyond!! We need a king-sized comforter since Josh is always…okay, since I’m always hogging the queen-sized comforter.
And then, as soon as the “I need” radar really gets going, it gets joined by its cousin, “If we need all these things anyway, then I might as well save some money…”
This is not me passing judgment on anyone who goes Black Friday shopping.
This is about me, and my absolute inability to distinguish needs from wants.
See, I’ve been raised in a culture that makes it very easy to believe that if I want something, I must need it, too. But what I’m learning about myself, and possibly a large chunk of the rest of the people being raised in this culture along with me, is that about 98% of the time, the thing that I think I need isn’t really something I need. A startling percentage of the time?
The thing I want isn’t really even something I want. Not really.
What I want is something to distract me. Something to keep me from sitting here in the quiet and confronting the neediness of my own soul. Something to keep me from having to recognize and contend with the fact that I have everything I could possibly ever need…and yet I still find myself unsatisfied in more moments than I can count. Chasing the next thing. Looking to something or someone to fulfill me and make me know that I’m okay. Seeking out ways to impress others and gain their approval so maybe they won’t notice how ordinary I feel.
Lately I can’t seem to get a distraction, you know? I have been in the oddest funk for weeks, and I can’t seem to get my mind off of it or around it.
Maybe I’m not supposed to have a distraction from how broken I feel sometimes. Maybe every distraction I find just keeps me from looking for my identity in the one place that I know it lies.
And it sure isn’t at New York and Company.