I was in a big shopping centre (places I now tend to avoid) pre Christmas over two years ago. Although I can’t quite recall why now, I can only assume I was there to go into a specific shop to collect a specific present for a family member.
Now for a little context, at this stage I hadn’t really begun exploring anxiety as a symptom I experienced in my life nor even considered the idea that my behaviour was ruled by anxious tendencies at all. What I had been rather passionate about was slow fashion- the idea of not feeding into fast fashion industries that created clothes at a huge cost to the planet and other humans.
Given that my mum is practically a wizard with a sewing machine I’ve often had items of clothes that stood out to others because they were unique and home sewn. On top of that, I went through some pretty hardcore op shopping phases, picking up second hand clothing nearly monthly. This often led to huge overflow of my wardrobe that would then be re-donated to op shops for someone else to purchase. Or so I thought…
Side note: Turns out most of the clothes we donate if not immediately, will eventually end up in landfill. Even worse, most of it won’t ever biodegrade.
I’ve digressed, back to these pants. I was in the shopping centre and couldn’t resist the urge to walk into a fast fashion store as they had a lot of yellow and mustard in this season. My colour oooooh yeah. I found these pants, perfect for summer and perfect for travel and perfect for work and super comfortable and HOLY S**T THEY ARE ONLY $15!!! These justifications and this price should have been the first warning sign.
Anyway, you know how it goes, I couldn’t stop myself from buying these damn pants. And then it happened, I got home, took my haul inside from the car and stopped to reflect on my purchases. I was furious with the clothes shop. How had they been so good at luring me in and even more convincing in getting me to the counter to purchase them? Well, this really isn’t news to anyone, but this is EXACTLY WHAT THESE COMPANIES AIM TO DO.
I had totally fallen victim to, as I had so many times in the past, the fast fashion industry. I was laying blame. I was riddled with guilt, stress and what I can now recognise as unremitting anxiety. No matter how much logic I tried to use, my emotional brain was unable to be reasoned with.
And that is exactly what happens when you experience anxiety. Literally, two parts of the brain are unable to communicate with each other. At that moment I couldn’t see any relief from the intense emotional stress I was feeling. And out of that came two lessons I absolutely needed to learn:
That anxiety allows me to be very informed, organised, thorough, calculated and formulated. In terms of my previous research about the fashion industry and the cost of my purchase, plus the recognition of what role the fast fashion industry has for other individuals and how it assisted in my learning.
That anxiety can also present as such a debilitating emotional response that I cause unnecessary suffering in my life. The guilt, shame, sadness, anger and frustration I had with a single pair of pants.
So these pants are still in my wardrobe for some reasons because they still fit, I still do like them and they truly are very comfortable. For other reasons because I refuse to let them go to landfill and I refuse to make them the fast fashion item they are. And mostly as a symbol that anxiety for me (and everyone) is inevitable but we can make it beautiful. We have the choice to harbour our anxiety for good or let it be a detriment.
And there you have it, the pants that ‘gave’ me anxiety.
To explore more about anxiety join us on 22nd Feb 2020 in Phillip Island at our Anxiety Workshop. Tickets available at: https://www.newmoonwellnessretreats.com/