Five years ago, I bought a Mulberry backpack handbag. I’d been coveting it for ages and spent hours looking at it online. I travelled to Edinburgh to the Mulberry shop and inspected it closely to ensure I really liked it, and I tried it on to be sure it wouldn’t look weird on my short frame. I carefully considered the available colours and I left the shop even more convinced I wanted that bag. A few weeks later there was a rare sale at the Mulberry website and I ordered it.
When it arrived, I unpacked it, used it once, and hung it on a coat rack to collect dust. I hated it. With the added weight of my belongings, the straps dug into my shoulders. It was a faff to open and close and it turned out that I didn’t like the colour after all. The buyer’s remorse was extreme and made me feel a bit sick. It was an expensive bag that I thought I wanted, but in reality it was a terrible mistake. How did this happen?
It happened because I was delusional. I knew Mulberry was a popular brand and that I should want one, but once the bag was actually in my possession, I realised that I didn’t want one at all. So why did I spend all that time, effort and money? The reason is embarrassing. I wasted nearly £500 on a bag because I believed other people would do the same. How stupid is that? It’s stupid because sane and reasonable people shouldn’t spend that much money on something they neither like nor want. But they do it all the time.
There are many reasons people behave this way – buying into the capitalist lie of scarcity, wanting to fit in with their peers, or simply showing off. They don’t realise that these motivations prevent them from ever being happy, and that the need to have the Next Big Thing will never be satisfied. Most of us will never been rich or famous or internationally loved, and to believe these things are waiting just around the next corner (and the next and the next) if we literally buy into the myth is a madness that will only lead to misery and regret.
I sold the bag on DePop. And because I’d bought it on sale, I got most of my money back. The woman who bought it went back and forth for a good few weeks before hitting the buy button. She’d ask for things like additional photos, proof of authenticity, and the original receipt and then go quiet. I can’t help thinking she was going through the same deliberations I had. She wrote to me after she received it bag to tell me that she’d wanted one for years, and that she was delighted to finally have it. I’m glad her motivations meant her outcome was better that mine.