When I was in college I got in the habit of going to the mall on Friday afternoons. It started out as a way to just get away for awhile. I loved every single second of living in the dorms but sometimes, you just kinda need some alone time, you know? There were days when I just needed to be by myself and unwind, away from the constant activity (can you say sensory overload?) that went on and all of the people who lived in the dorms. When I first moved to Lexington I knew how to get to exactly three places; my ex boyfriend's house, Texas Roadhouse (the restaurant) and the mall so by default, the mall became my get-away.
Before long I got to where I really looked forward to my weekly mall trip. I rarely ever even bought anything. I mean, I was an 18 year old college freshman with no job; its not like I had the money to bankroll any kind of weekly shopping spree. But I got really, really good at window shopping and wish-listing and in doing those things, I think I gained something very valuable. Motivation.
I love clothes and I REALLY love shoes. I couldn't afford to buy them then, but every time I went through the mall I'd tell myself that someday I would. Someday I'd have the financial means to do and have anything I could ever want, and I wouldn't even have to think twice about the number on the price tag. Maybe this sounds greedy and selfish and materialistic...and it is! No doubt. I am all of those things. But at the same time, knowing that there were things out there that I wanted was the motivation it took to get me through school.
Probably in college everybody has "those" days. The one's where you study your brains out for a test and still blow it. Or the days when you're so exhausted from staying up for six days straight studying for finals that you can barely walk. Or the days when it hits you that you have absolutely no idea what in the heck you're supposed to be doing with your life and you wonder if maybe you've just wasted the past three semesters on classes you didn't need. I had lots of those days and the temptation was always there in the background to just drop out, call it quits, pack it in, and go home.
The fact that Mom and Dad would have killed me not withstanding (I am not even joking; y'all would've been attending my funeral), I didn't drop out and I didn't go home because I recognized that if I did I'd likely never be able to have all the things I wanted in life. It's hard to explain but by the time I left the mall on those Friday afternoons to head back to campus, more often than not I had a completely renewed outlook on life and felt ready to once again tackle the ups and downs of college. It fired me up to think that the work I was doing then would eventually (hopefully) parlay itself into a means of getting stuff down the road. It gave meaning to college and all the tests and quizzes and papers. It put things into perspective for me, made me realize that there was still a world outside the college "bubble" and made me see that the work was a necessary evil for the time being.
Do I advocate retail therapy for everyone? Probably not. It worked for me because we've always established that I'm materialistic and motivated by having nice things. So no, to some people a walk around the mall would be nothing more than a waste of an hour on Friday afternoon. But not to me.