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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Shopping remorse: why I hate shopping

Published: December 2, 2011
Section: Opinions

During the holiday season I often feel rather Scrooge-like because I despise shopping. I usually experience extreme stress upon entering shopping malls.

I believe this stems from my mothers obsession with Kohl’s. For some reason, my mother can spend eons in Kohl’s—something that has always baffled me since she is normally a very busy and productive person. Kohl’s seems to be a place of relaxation for her, where she not only buys clothes for herself but for every other person my family has ever encountered. I will occasionally tag along to Kohl’s, in need of a new winter coat or some sweaters, only to find myself on an epic marathon of Kohl’s shopping that lasts for four hours and usually ends with me lying down on one of the coat racks, hidden and exhausted. My brother and I now know that a trip to Kohl’s may sound like a good idea but is not worth the pain.

Now that I’m older and have both a driver’s license and a car, it’s become a normal event for my friends and me to go shopping. While this is usually less of an endeavor than the trips to Kohl’s with my mother, I tire of shopping far earlier than my friends. While they lose themselves in the floral patterns at Forever 21, I physically lose myself in Forever 21, getting lost in the maze of the store. I don’t understand why the store needs to be that large; the amount of clothes and mirrors make me feel trapped.

The only thing that captures my interest when I go to the mall is eating pretzel bites. I am obsessed with butter pretzels. Despite my normal thriftiness, I will always spend money on pretzels. Unfortunately, problems then result when my friends want to enter an expensive prom dress store and I am still eating pretzels dripping with butter. The employees aren’t exactly welcoming to me, a fact with which I am perfectly content even if my friends are not.

The only stores I truly love are the bookstore and the pet store. Books and I have always gotten along. Bookstores do not stress me; they are peaceful places that lack annoying employees. They are just shelves and shelves of books waiting to be read. Since bookstores often include coffee shops as well, I can grab coffee and stroll aimlessly up and down the rows, reading what I want for hours on end. Books are far more interesting than clothes: Clothes don’t bring characters to life or interest me for more than the few seconds it takes to say, “Oh, I look good in this.” Pet stores I love because animals themselves are stress relievers. I cannot possibly be unhappy while staring at cute hamsters. I also have a rather odd obsession with fish.

Sadly, I cannot buy all my Christmas presents for my family and friends at the bookstore or the pet store (though believe me, I’ve tried). So I suffer through the mall, randomly entering stores I feel my father would like, trying to find a shirt he would wear. It usually ends badly, with my head pounding and my desire to leave looming. It is not that I totally lack fashion sense; I just have no desire to spend money or time picking out clothes. In this way, online shopping is not much better (though it does take away some of the stress); staring at clothes online still bores me.

As a result, my Christmas presents usually end up being rather unusual. I give my dad duck statues and puzzles, my brother books from my familiar old bookstore, my mother a latch-hook pillow I finally figured out how to make. Perhaps a fear of shopping isn’t a bad thing—I’ve learned to adapt, and maybe make more meaningful presents.