I’m Going to Try Not To Worry

About money, only.

Image: Thomas8047 (CC by 2.0)

Today, on my way to the post office to pick up a package, I stopped by the sandwich place I like on my way home and bought myself lunch for $15. I purchased a movie ticket online and idly browsed dining tables on Craigslist. I considered a sweatshirt, some socks, an expensive houseplant. I filled a cart with dumb things and closed the tab, lingering with my debit card in one hand for a minute or two before stepping away. A part of me feels like spending money right now is a selfish, hollow act, meant to make myself feel better via material things when there are larger issues in this world to worry about that aren’t myself.

Earlier today, Nicole wrote about how the things that she wanted last week feel pointless. Ideologically, I agree. In practice, though, the anxiety I’ve harbored about buying stuff is eroding.

I Don’t Want to Buy Anything Right Now

“You love money,” a friend of mine tells me every time we talk about finances or discuss work. He’s not wrong. I think about how much money I’m making and how I could find more of it, not out of greed but out of a pressing need to know that regardless of what happens, I will always be abe to take care of myself. I love money for the security it represents. Worrying about money has been a defining characteristic of mine for as long as I can remember. Sometimes there’s not enough and sometimes, there is. Worrying about how much money I have or don’t have or will have in the future is a pointless endeavor. There are other things to worry about.

I’m not anticipating some sort of nihilistic breakdown that results in me buying plane tickets to places I can’t afford and blowing my rent on handbags. My anxiety about money has always been a means of dealing with the other anxieties that fly around like crazed bats in my head: if I think about and work hard at something that I can control, the rest of the things I can’t control will become less important. In light of recent events, it’s abundantly clear that whatever happens in the next four years will be a deeply unpleasant surprise for everyone. Worrying about the inevitabilities of those surprises and their impact on communities of people that are important to me — and actually doing something to help, whatever way that I can — feels like a better use of my time.

If I need something, I will buy it and cease the endless hemming and hawing that comes with every single purchase I make. I will use my energy in other, more constructive ways.

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