Buyxiety: Part 2 in a 3-Part Series of my Anxiety.
I get extremely anxious when I buy things. Unavoidable and expensive purchases such as car repairs, cat vaccinations, and tickets to ride a Greyhound bus across the country make me nauseous.
This means I’m good at saving money. I buy things used, never spend more than $15 on any article of clothing, and am driving the same ’98 Mazda I’ve had since before I got my license.
This also means I’m terrible at spending money without convulsing at the register and succumbing to fits of buyer’s remorse that leave me debilitated on my bedroom floor for half a day.
Recently I’ve been trying to decorate my new office at work.
“I bet you have a lot of stuff in your car to bring in,” my boss said on my first day.
Uhhh, not exactly. (You might recall that I’ve spent the past year getting peed on by babies in the slums of India, unknowingly working for a drug dealer, and begging to be allowed to conduct therapy sessions in storage closets. Beginning a collection of office decorations had not ever crossed my mind. Not once).
My co-worker with the Hollywood-themed office came into my office the next day and closed the door behind her. “I think it’s so great you’re here,” she said. “But I just think you should know that the counselor who had this office before you worked here for five years and killed himself two months ago. So this office has just been really empty and sad since then. So it’s going to be so much less depressing for everyone once you start to decorate it and really make it your own.”
Holy. Shit. Not good news for someone who believes that walls can have unresolved feelings.
That night I was browsing paintings on Etsy and wondering why everything cost a month’s-worth of rent until I realized that I could filter my search by price. Then I wondered why everything in my price range looked like something a five-year-old could draw with their non-dominant hand.
I walked out of my early doctor’s appointment the next morning right into a random art sale filled with really cool paintings. It felt like it was meant to be. But they were a bit pricey by my standards, seeing as the only painting I’d ever purchased before was at Hobby Lobby for $6.
A guy who worked there came up to where I stood, paralyzed with indecision. “If you get home and decide you don’t like it,” he said, “You can bring it back for a full refund.”
That was enough for me to finally decide to get two. “How long do I have to bring them back?” I asked as I was digitally signing my receipt.
“Twenty-four hours,” he said. I froze mid-signature. What if I didn’t wake up in time tomorrow? What if I went to get them out of my office late tonight and couldn’t get into my building? What if I damaged them taking them to or from my car? What if I had a terrible, debilitating accident in the next twenty-four hours and couldn’t return them and also couldn’t earn any money for the rest of my life?
“Have a great day!” he said, handing me my copy of the receipt that had printed out with only half my signature on it.
“I’ve made a horrible financial decision!” I shouted to Doug as I walked through the door. “We can’t eat for two months!”
He didn’t seem too concerned but I felt the need to justify anyway. “But I’ll have these paintings in my office for the rest of my professional life,” I said. “So it’s an investment, right?”
“Not really,” he said. “Do you know what ‘investment’ means?”
“Aaaaaaaaah,” I moaned, wrapping my arms around my chest, pulling my hair around my chin, and rocking back and fourth to self-soothe.
I spent the rest of the morning looking up what my paintings cost on other web sites and calculating what the additional costs of shipping and framing would be to convince myself that what I paid was actually a steal, considering mine came with high-quality frames and no glass so therefore no glare, and wasn’t no glare worth an extra dollar a year (if I divided the extra cost of mine by the number of years I will potentially work in an office)?
I hung them in my office that afternoon. But then I thought: What if they are too fancy for an office setting? And I’m just that snotty girl whose paintings are just a little too fancy?
I walked down the hall pretending I was on my way to the bathroom so I could peak into other peoples’ offices. Nobody else’s paintings had frames, they were just canvases- probably that they painted themselves! What if it was universally understood that frames are for living rooms, not offices, and I’m the only person who didn’t know this, and now I have created an awkward living room/office hybrid?
I went back to my desk and did a Google image search of “office paintings.” A-ha! One of the first pictures that came up was of an office with framed paintings at least as fancy as mine. But then I clicked on the picture and realized it was one of the offices in the White House. Dammit!
Then I closed out of the internet entirely because I started worrying that someone would walk by and see me Googling “office paintings,” and my computer is super slow at closing windows so by the time someone stepped inside my office it would be too late.
By the time I woke up the next morning, the 24-hour mark had passed. I breathed a sigh of relief that there was no decision left to be made. I went to work, looked up at my paintings, and smiled. I really like them.