I Keep Shopping Obsessively To Distract Myself From My Boy Problems

by Sheena Sharma

Confession: I'm an addict. It's not in the way you'd think (no alcohol or cocaine here), but my addiction is serious nonetheless. I am a shopaholic.

Before you tell me my first-world problem isn't worth sobbing over, you should know why it's as problematic as it is. I don't shop because I want to look good or because I've been eyeing a pair of in-season Jeffrey Campbells for a long time. I do it because it distracts me from all of my boy problems (and at any given time in my life, you can be sure I'm having boy problems).

I was at work one day last week when I decided to go shopping on my lunch break. See, I'd been feeling down because I'd ended things with my f*ck buddy not too long before. And I do have a new crush, but I'm not sure about the best way to approach that. I was stressing about past and future boy problems, and I wasn't proud of it.

So I had a devilish urge to spend a preposterous amount of money I didn't have. I wanted to feel pretty. I needed to feel better about myself. So off to the shoe store I went, because there's no other high like the high a girl experiences after copping fresh foot candy.

I walked in not knowing what I wanted. The goal was simple: to walk out of the store with something, anything. Dammit, I wasn't going home empty-handed, on account of already feeling so ... empty.

There were so many shoes calling my name. Sneakers and stilettos and sandals, oh my! I was overwhelmed, to say the least. And so I tried them all on. I tried on booties and I tried on slip-ons. I tried on white and I tried on rose-gold. I was a kid in a candy store, and I wanted them all. I needed them all.

“What's it gonna be, ma'am?” the sales clerk asked me. He must have seen something in my eyes: the way I was taunting my reflection in the mirror. He could sense my vulnerability, and he made sure to prey on it. And I can't resist a predator.

“I have to tell you something," he said as I strapped on my third pair of shoes in ten minutes. "You look incredibly beautiful in all of them. I think you should go with all three.”

Did I really look great in all of them, or was this salesman just good at his job? It didn't matter. I was going home with all three.

And before I even knew which credit card I was blindly taking out of my wallet and throwing on the counter, I had set a new Sheena record: I'd bought $400 worth of shoes in under 30 minutes.

I'm a new woman, I thought, walking down the street in my flirty white dress and matching strappy sandals that the salesman let me wear out of the store. Men in suits dropped their jaws. Women stared in envy. I had achieved my goal. No, I wasn't high on men. I was high on looks from strangers, and it wasn't the same high I get while being charmed by a f*ckboy. But at least I was high.

When I got back to work, I threw the shopping bags under my desk with absolutely no regard for the still-pristine condition of my shoes. I wanted them out of sight so I wouldn't feel shame for sinning so badly.

Still, guilt took over. "Out of sight, out of mind" wasn't working for me. I felt like a worthless junkie who'd relapsed just because the drug was there. And then my ruthless AF mind took over: You're grimy. You're pathetic. If only you could shower your bad decisions away...

Shopping is a vice, a bad habit, a way to avoid real problems. And it feels so damn good that it's impossible to stop. The first toke feels incredible, so you take another, and you convince yourself you need only one more. But when the high wears off and you crash -- and you do always crash -- you realize none of it was worth it, and you're still standing there, looking yourself in the mirror, trying to figure out a way to deal with yourself.

Mindless shopping is self-destruction. And that day was the day I realized I needed a healthier way to deal with my boy problems.

The next day, I didn't look at my bank account. I was scared to see the number. I'm scared to face reality. But what kind of life is a life of denial? I can't live this way forever. I'm better than that. Impulsive decisions don't cancel out boy problems, and you have to trust me on that, because I'm learning it the hardest way.

Besides, who wants to have boy problems and be in debt? That's 18 times worse than having boy problems with money to spare. I'm slowly learning that quick fixes don't fix much at all. They're massive hurdles on my journey to self-love, and dammit, I so badly want to love myself.

I'm hoping writing the following out will help it stick: The number of boys I'm talking to doesn't determine my worth. Neither does the number of shoes I have in my closet. It's easier to shop than sit with your feelings, and no one said sitting with your feelings was an easy feat, but good things happen to people who deal with life's troubles head-on. If only someone had told me that I was going to replace f*ckboy hopping with shoe shopping. It's easy to get rid of an addiction when you're just swapping one out for another.

There aren't enough shoes in the world to fill the void of a lonely heart. Self-love, on the other hand, can. I started out with huge holes in my heart, but man, those holes have got nothing on the holes in my wallet.