At the beginning of the school year, I was in a meeting with my co-worker and she was creating her Bullet Journal. She told me about Bullet Journaling, explained it a little, and showed me her new Moleskine and said “I got a new notebook, and I spend fifteen dollars on it, so I have to keep up with it,”
At the beginning of every year (and every school year), it’s a natural time to start new habits and change old, non-working behaviors. It’s a transition. Companies try to tell everyone that the way to make sure to start and follow through is to buy stuff. In most houses, there is tons of unused stuff that people bought for hobbies they thought they would use. Dusty musical instruments, dusty gadgets, dusty kitchen appliances, art supplies neatly packed away in boxes, 10 rolls of Washi tape, and dried up cosmetics.
I promised myself I wouldn’t fall for it. I wanted new notebooks to journal in but I told myself no, I would use up the ones I have first, even if they are half used already, even if they are 10 cent ones from Target, whatever. They have to be used up. I have read so many fictional and non-fictional books about people just trying to get an education and saving any little scrap of paper to write made-up stories on. So why do I need nice paper or a fresh start? Of course paper is all you need. Not even that anymore. Just a very small piece of a cloud farm somewhere. Very close to nothing at all.
I went to the Fountain Pen Hospital in Manhattan with my girlfriend over break. She wanted a new fountain pen because she had misplaced her previous one. I was looking for a planner and didn’t find one at first. My girlfriend tried to get me to take a look at every variety of Rhodia books, but I found fault with them all: too small, too big, crappy rings that will get bent out of shape and all the pages will fall out instead of a spiral, glued binding that the pages will fall out of, stapled binding that the cover will fall off of, and I didn’t want any of them. Then saw a Rhodia one by the register that met all my requirements: Good binding, small enough to fit in my purse, paper I can write on with my fountain pen, weekly planning. So I bought it. I know what I don’t want and I know what I want.
I was so pleased that I later went to the Utrecht art store to get another notebook, to make a bullet journal type of thing for my new Secret Project. I was happy, it was only four or five dollars and I went home and had fun setting it up.
And while I was, I was thinking to myself how pleasant it was, how nice to draw in, how wonderful to have orderly little squares, and how motivational it was. The next day or two days later, I went back and got the square one…for a journal…even though I don’t need anything special for a journal…even though I have written in any journal I could find since I was 12 and never stopped…I knew I was out of control.
I brought it home and drew and felt so at peace. I got some page layout ideas from the Passion Planner Instagram and felt so focused, calm, organized, ready. And I knew the retailers were right. Buying something new does help to start something new. It feels fun and special.
Nevertheless, I know it’s a ridiculous concept. I should not have to buy something new to feel that way. And I know the feeling won’t last. It will only last for a little bit, until the item stops feeling fresh and young. Then it will fade away into my daily life, into the background.
The trick is to find a way to get the feeling instead of letting consumerism play on your aspirations and tell you an item can solve the problem with motivation.