Photos C/O: Aaron Rector
Caroline Rector is a style blogger with a casual, less-is-more approach. She lives in Texas with her husband, Aaron, and their beloved pup, Steve. When she’s not blogging, Caroline can be found practicing yoga, sprucing up her backyard, or sharing a bottle of wine with her husband.
It was the day after Thanksgiving — Black Friday, as it’s known.
I returned home from a shopping marathon with my sister-in-law. We’d had fun, but as I sat down on the bed, exhausted, I realized, I have a shopping problem.
On the outside, it wasn’t apparent. I didn’t really know how to put an outfit together.
But I had a closet — two, actually — stuffed with cheap clothes.
And deep down, I knew the truth. These clothes didn’t represent my style. They represented the negative stuff: timidity, fear, insecurity.
I usually went shopping when I felt bad about myself. Shopping gave me a bit of instant gratification that made me feel better — but only for a little while.
I could point to each hanger in my closet and explain the struggle behind it.
That dress? I bought it because I felt like my body didn’t measure up that day. This sweater? I bought it because I felt embarrassed about a comment I made in front of a new group of friends. These jeans? I bought them because I’d dropped the ball on a project for work.
Sitting on the bed that chilly November day, I wanted a change.
I wanted to change my shopping habit. But more than that, I wanted to address the deeper issues. I wanted to stop letting insecurity rule my life.
It seemed like a monumental task: Stop being insecure. If only there was a switch to flip.
I always wanted a switch: a painless, mistake-free way to grow while still looking like I had it together. But the very essence of growth is acknowledging that you don’t have it all together.
In an Instagram-perfect world, that can be hard. Which makes it even more vital to press into it in real life.
The more we press into it, the more we inspire others to fearlessly grow.
The more we press into it, the more we create a loving, generous, and kind community of women across the world.
The more we press into it, the more whole we become — individually and as a society.
Sitting on the bed alone, surrounded by a half dozen shopping bags, I said, out loud: I have a problem with shopping and with insecurity. I don’t like admitting this. I feel low, but it’s unhealthy, and I don’t want unhealthy habits. I want to take care of myself.
My declaration was met with silence. But deep within, I knew my heart had shifted. I was open.
I was ready to let go of looking put together in favor of actually getting better. And that was everything.
But where should I begin?
In most problems, there’s an inward struggle and the outward manifestation of that struggle. The two are deeply intertwined.
There’s a secret here: since the two are intertwined, it’s possible to use one to heal the other.
Shedding insecurity was such an abstract concept that it was hard for me to know where to start. But shopping? I knew exactly how to stop shopping. It was physical and concrete. Curbing a behavior was a little bit easier than curbing a thought. So I leaned into it and decided to approach it playfully, like a game.
Instead of going to the mall, I’d take my dog for a fun walk around the neighborhood. Instead of typing the name of my favorite clothing store in the search box, I’d get up and attempt a fishtail braid.
Saying no to shopping and finding success in that small area propelled me forward. The less I shopped, the more confident I felt. My confidence gave me courage to look inward at my issues. They were no longer scary and dark, but simply something I’d figure out, starting small and moving forward, one playful step at a time.
The process was slow but rewarding, and over the next few years, I found myself getting healthier — both with my outward shopping habit and with my internal insecurity.
Through that process, I learned that every step of growth has value. No matter how small, no matter how trite it may seem. Developing an attitude of growth in something small let me practice new skills in a non-threatening environment. Practicing in any arena is still practice. And each time we practice, we get a little better.
Even small starts can bring about great growth.
And to me, beauty is growth. Keeping an attitude of growth throughout all of life’s challenges is the best gift we can give ourselves.