I’ve recently been investing in some retail therapy. I’ve never bought expensive jewellery for myself before, nor have I asked others to buy it for me, even for special occasions. It just hasn’t been on my ‘must-have’ list.
When you have a marriage, mortgage, and children to take care of, splashing-out on diamonds and gold is usually not a priority.
However, my children are now young adults and are, for the most part, providing for themselves. I also recently lost my husband to a hard-fought cancer battle and so to cheer myself up one day, I did the unthinkable and wandered into Tiffany & Co with the goal to buy pearls.
There’s always something to feel guilty about. Mia Freedman answers a question from one of our readers: “I feel guilty if I don’t play with my kids. Help!” Post continues below.
It was a Friday night after work and it felt like I was programmed like a robot with a mission, the mission to go to Tiffany’s and spend, and nothing on the way had the capacity to stop me.
It took little more than 10 minutes and a $900 dent in my savings account before I walked out of the iconic store with my emotions swinging from guilt to joy and a voice inside my head saying, ‘God what have you done?’. Perhaps the pang of guilt had something to do with the conversation with the sales assistant that went like this …
SA: Is this a special gift?
Me: No, I’m buying it for me.
SA: Is it for a special occasion?
SA: Do you have something special to wear it with?
Me: No I’ll wear them with my jeans.
(You can wear pearls with jeans right?)
Are you over ‘basics’ and ‘classic investment pieces’? Check out Bell Frankie + Co for an explosion of glitter and sequins. (Post continues after gallery.)
Now the sales assistant was lovely, of course, and the good news is that I love my new pearls as they remind me of when I was young and of the pearl necklace I wore on my wedding day. But the conversation left me feeling a little awkward with the impression that I was an unusual customer.
But then I’m old enough now to know (and live by) that it doesn’t matter what others think. Or does it? My pearls are tucked away at the back of my cupboard and I’ve looked at them only once. That doesn’t mean I regret buying them, no way, or that they will remain hidden in a dark corner forever. No, I’m just taking my time til I’m ready, (which will be soon, promise).
But I’m one of those people that finds it hard not to explain things. I’m better these days but I still need improving. What I mean is this …
Me: I’m sorry I’m late … I set the alarm for pm instead of am and then I missed the bus because it came early and …
Me: Yes my new silver picture frames are beautiful but I kept visiting the department store until they went on sale and they weren’t as expensive as the brand such and such and …
What the hell?
Most people probably don’t care what I spent on my silver picture frames but then some do, people can get jealous when they see others going for what they want (and we can get jealous of others). People often don’t like it when you ‘break the rules', ‘rules’ that no-one’s really sure who made them or why.
The best way to handle these kinds of moments is to give away nothing. Just say thank you and move on. And that’s what I’ll do with my new pearls.
If people comment on them I’ll just say thank you, no explanations, no stories. No mention of my husband, my wedding day, or my love for New York and Truman Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
(Yes, the book, it makes me cry with Holly Golightly’s search for belonging and her loyal friend, after a long search, finds Cat sitting content in a pretty framed window … I can’t even.)
Breakfast at Tiffany's (film): Paramount Pictures
Why mention all these? I’m likely to set myself up for disappointment when I’m rewarded with a blank stare or a polite smile and a nod. Not all treasures need to be shared.
Guilt is an emotion that robs us of joy. Psychology Today explains guilt as a negative feeling, one of the ‘sad’ emotions. It’s also a way people get others to do things (or not do things) out of a sense of obligation.
Convention insists we should wait for a special occasion or someone special to buy us valuable jewellery or whatever. It says you don’t buy them just because! Is it your birthday? Anniversary? Nope. I just want them.
Pearls had sentimental value in the film Julie and Julia: Columbia Pictures
And anyway, many people are single, either divorced, widowed, single by choice or not by choice. What are these rules that state something valuable has more meaning if someone ‘special’ has bought it for you or it’s purchased for a special occasion? It can be just as special, or more so, if you’ve bought them for yourself. It’s time to say no to these kind of rules. I’m going too.
Now I’m not advocating for you to spend all your savings on jewellery or buy a Prada handbag on credit. (I could begin a Tiffany addiction but I’ve shifted my retail therapy to plants, much cheaper). But it really is a wonderful feeling to be kind to yourself and treat yourself with something special. I’m going to love wearing my new pearls, and even more so with my jeans, probably going nowhere special in particular.
Do you ever feel guilty doing something special just for you?