Self-Reflection: It’s Not Just for Socrates

When was the last time you had a substantial amount of time to yourself and by yourself? And I don’t mean binge watching Netflix or sleeping. Rather, I’m referring to a stretch of hours where all you had for entertainment, or someone to talk to was you, yourself, and thou. If you can think of a time, congrats! If not, don’t be too hard on yourself about it. In our current society with its insane schedules, iPhone addictions, and frenetic activity, quiet time for contemplation and reflection is seldom discussed or prioritized. (To be clear: I am not talking about meditation, although I find this to be of tremendous value as well; and something I practice daily).

In my opinion, Socrates got it right: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Without taking the time to be alone and even be bored (gasp!), we rob ourselves of the opportunity to let thoughts, feelings, and memories bubble to the surface of our consciousness. We miss out on vital cues from our body and heart, and we maintain the rat race that is 2018. Not to say that self-reflection is easy or enjoyable. Because, it’s not. There were countless times over the past five months where I found myself in fits of tears and anger as I confronted things about myself that I disliked and swam through deep wells of pain that I hadn’t realized still existed. But, it was entirely worth it. The hours I spent wandering around in foreign cities provided me not only with immense cultural enrichment but also a mental quiet in which to experience personal growth. Indeed, one of the most valuable takeaways from my entire trip, was the thing I least expected: having the much-needed time and space to reflect on the past ten years since I graduated college, and where and who I wanted to be for the next decade.

Before my extended traveling this past summer, self-reflection was something that I practiced infrequently and sporadically, but now it is something that has become a habit, thanks to my current lifestyle choices. I am alone when working from home; I take long runs and walks by myself, and enjoy luxurious baths where I let my mind wander. Other times, I lay in my bed or meander through museums and parks; all on my own, alone with myself. And those are the times when I experience epiphanies and have “light-bulb moments”, where I dwell on the things that I am grateful for, and, analyze if I am on the right path.

To be honest, if I had not created time for reflection, I’d still be working my corporate job, buying crap I didn’t need, wasting time on unproductive activities, and eating unhealthily.  I found that change is possible, but not if one doesn’t even have the time to think about what needs to be changed.  With that, I encourage you to to take ten minutes today and just sit with yourself and your thoughts. I can almost guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. Then, try it tomorrow. And the next day. You’ll slowly see how different and more fulfilling your life can be.

Let me know how it goes 🙂

Day 1

Today was day one of not buying anything directly from a corporation. My first challenge started this morning when I realized I was almost out of moisturizer. I normally use Shiseido, but that’s out now. As a result, I’ve decided to try out using Marula Oil as a moisturizer (since I bought a brand new bottle of it last week), and see if it works. Stay tuned.

The rest of the day was fairly easy. Although I was at work all day, I wasn’t tempted like I normally would be to grab a diet coke or bag of jalapeno cheddar cheetos. However, since those products are produced by Coca-Cola and Pepsico, repectively, there’s no way that I’m buying them ever again.

I strongly suspect that I’m going to lose weight and save money on this new lifestyle!

The other thing that was on my mind today was a christmas gift for my boyfriend (I’m a super-planner and like to buy gifts early). Prior to yesterday, I was planning on buying him some new Toms, Ralph Lauren cologne, and/or an Audible gift card. But not anymore! Definitely going to have to get creative with this one…

Thursday ended with a lovely, anti-corporate evening spent with my friend at Glen’s Garden Market in DuPont Circle in D.C. I was so excited and pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to buy food and drinks from local, small businesses! I had a delicious vegan, gluten-free brownie, kombucha, and sour-cherry cider (photos above) from D.C.-based companies. Not only that, but Glen’s is also woman-owned and treats its employees and customers exceptionally well!

I think that food will be one of the biggest challenge, just because it’s hard to always know where products are sourced from and how they’re produced. My options will be pretty limited, but I’m excited to see what I can find and buy that’s counter corporate.

Buying: Clothes

Luckily, clothes provide one of the easier and more fun opportunities for those looking to support local businesses and non-corporate entities with their purchases. Nowadays, there are tons of online platforms and apps that make it easier than ever to buy used, secondhand, and even brand new clothes, without paying one dime to a corporation. I personally love this concept, since it is not only more economical and environmentally friendly to buy clothes secondhand, but you also get to find more unique and one-of-a-kind options while benefiting individuals and small businesses.

Thrift Stores

If you’ve never shopped in a thrift store, you’re definitely missing out! While it’s true that it can be frustrating to find the perfect garment and then discover that it’s one size too small, it’s also incredibly rewarding when you stumble upon a vintage, designer garment for 1/100 of the original price. I wouldn’t recommend this for people who are interested in wearing only specific brands, but then again, living the anti-corporate lifestyle is not for those sheeple anyways. While Goodwill is ubiquitous, avoid it due to its status of a corporation, and choose your local thrift store, generally associated with a church or non-profit, instead.

Consignment Stores

Consignment stores are a step-up from thrift stores since they generally only sell barely worn goods in near-perfect condition. Shopping in these establishments will reap you the benefit of lower prices while supporting local businesses, and reduce time spent rifling through enormous racks of clothes. However, the prices will be higher than thrift stores and nor will they have multiple sizes for a single item, but if it’s designer ware you’re after, take a peek into your local spot. Best way to find a consignment shop is performing a map search to find one in your area.

Websites & Apps

For online shoppers, I highly suggest looking into the following websites/apps for great deals on secondhand and new clothes: Poshmark, Ebay, Thredup, or Etsy (as an added bonus, if you have unwanted clothes in good condition, you can also make some extra cash selling your items on the same sites!)

Clothing Swaps

Another one of my favorite ideas where I can both get new clothes and get rid of extra clothes, is to have a clothing swap with friends and then donate any unclaimed items to a thrift store.  In this way, everyone gets a chance to experience some much needed catharsis from cleaning out their closets and walk away with some free clothes! It’s a win-win situation in every sense of the word. I like to enhance the experience by asking people to contribute some food or drinks as well, and then it turns into a party!

I would love to hear about your experiences buying local, secondhand, and anti-corporate, so please in the comment section below. Additionally, if you know of any other platforms, brands, or stores that I didn’t already mention, please provide for the benefit of the other readers!