o-springcleaning

It is the spring cleaning season, and in doing my seasonal obligation, I had an epiphany. I don't want to say that I am a shopaholic, but I am a shopaholic. The number of clothes hanging in my closet, begging to be worn by me, was endless. Well, maybe not endless, but enough to make me realize that I have a shopping problem. I live by the wise words of Carrie Bradshaw from "Sex and the City" in how "I like my money where I can see it … hanging in my closet." 

If the clothes in my closet do not define me as a shopaholic, my shoes do. My biggest addiction is my shoes, and I swear that shoe shopping will be my death. In the time it has taken me to write this article, I have already ordered a pair of platform Converse with embroidered flowers on the side and I have no regrets in doing so. It seems logical to me to have multiple pairs of shoes because we wear shoes every day and there are 365 days in a year. However, most pairs of my shoes go with one or two outfits, which I can only wear for specific events. This concept makes no sense when thinking about it, yet I have many shoes in my closet and still wear the same dirty Converse every day.

I like to think of my shopping addiction as a joke to make myself feel better, but in all seriousness, I think it is a problem that I try, like so many of my friends, to stop. The number of 'hauls' my college friends and I share seems endless, whether it be clothes, unnecessary items or things we clearly don’t need more of. Collectively, we spend more money than we probably should, and each week our bank accounts cry out for help. 

I have begun to wonder how serious this problem is. Shopping should be considered an addiction due to its compulsive nature, the psychological effects and how online shopping adds to the craving. 

On the phone with my mom a few months ago, going over my bank account to ensure everything was up to date, my mother asked me why I had purchased lightsabers. At this time, my Star Wars obsession was growing and lightsaber ads seemed to be popping out everywhere; I bought them out of compulsion and again, I do not regret that purchase. I agree it was a bit of a mindless purchase, but my roommates and I have some pretty fantastic lightsaber fights in our hallway and room. 

In some cases though, not all purchases are good ones. For instance, many of my friends buy clothes from SHEIN because they are cheap. The amount of ideas for the clothes they compulsively buy and actually wear are limited, but they felt the need to get them anyway. Shopping from places like SHEIN adds to the issue of fast fashion, but it doesn't make them feel as bad about shopping because the items feel like they are on "sale." 

People with shopping addictions tend to shop alone or feel the need to hide their packages because they may feel embarrassed in their shopping behaviors. In my experience, I tend to feel a hint of guilt when returning from my shopping endeavors because I feel as if others will disapprove of my excessive purchases. Upon sharing this with friends, they agreed that they have the same feelings as me with their purchases, which led me to conclude that, possibly, a good percent of people my age share a shopping addiction.  

Similar to the effect that drugs or alcohol have on a person, shopping can produce dopamine. The idea of looking and searching for a purchase can make you feel good, and the hit of dopamine you feel before you even purchase the item justifies it. 

For example, my parents let me choose my own birthday gifts and for my 18th, I spent weeks searching for the perfect purse. The thrill of clicking the complete purchase button was more than enough for me. That purse is still one of my favorite purchases but since then, I have already bought another and got the same exhilarating feeling while on the hunt for it. I think the feeling of rewarding one's self makes the purchase credible, at least for a short time, but it eventually wears off after the hit disappears. 

Personally, I believe simply looking and browsing online can benefit your mood. Yet, I also argue that this habit can become addicting by not understanding that it is the looking for a purchase that creates this feeling. With the rise of online shopping, it has become easier for me to look at items I can purchase, and the anticipation of receiving the item excites me. 

Online shopping has made life as a shopaholic simple because I do not have to leave my house to browse and purchase. The high I feel waiting for my purchase to arrive and the excitement when I get a notification about the shipment is thrilling, yet after a while, even though I still love my purchase, I get the urge to find my next venture. 

One way for me and other shopaholics to halt the addiction is to budget. I write lists of things I need when going out and stick to them. Another thing I do is track my spending and put off shopping by distracting myself with books or activities. 

This idea can be hard at times because, like any journey, I feel it is okay to treat myself for good behavior once I have been consistent. However, shopping can be tough to fight, and while it might not be on the same level as other addictions, I do argue it should be considered one. Some doctors suggest converting this addiction by shifting it to other things such as working out or eating healthy. 

Trying new things to get rid of an addiction can be difficult, but if I put my energy into something besides shopping, I know that in the end, I will be better off because of it. 

Alexis Goeman is a freshman journalism major. Reach her at alexisgoeman@dailynebraksan.com