Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lotions, Emotions, and Ruminotions. ("Ruminations" does not really rhyme.)

A few weeks ago, I bought some lotion that was on sale at Victoria's Secret. (No, I didn't need it. It was on sale and smelled nice. I will use up all my lotion eventually, I promise.) Tonight while washing my face I noticed its name. "Confident Body Lotion."

Now, either the body lotion is confident, or it is supposed to make me confident, cf. my new Jergens Firming Body Lotion. (No, I didn't need it, but I was hoping it would do more for my dry skin plus help me prep my body for the upcoming summer months-- hello, 70 degree weather next week! Also, it was on sale and came with two travel size lotions.)

Back to my point about confidence-infusing body lotion. Does it smell like Confidence, thereby inspiring me to be confident? Or does it smell just Generally Good, thereby convincing me that I am worthy of self-confidence?

It doesn't matter, although I think it must be that it smells like Confidence (which incidentally is defined as "mandarin orange") since I also bought Energize Body Lotion, also on sale. Side note-- Please name your products consistently. You can't name one lotion "Confidence" and then the other "Energize." It needs to be "Energy," to keep them as nouns. Leave verbs out of this.

Wow, enough tangents. I apologize. My thought process is as follows:
1. If smelling like mandarin oranges gives me confidence, how easy is it to lose? Or why do I need a lotion to make me confident? It doesn't add any substance. Whatever I am confident about due to the lotion will be a part of me whether or not I smell like mandarin oranges. (Why have I never seen a valencia orange-fragranced lotion? What's so special about mandarin oranges?)
2. If I, or others, buy lotions based on my/our needs (confidence, energy, relaxation, etc), what else do we buy or buy into in order to quiet our anxieties over what we lack? Where am I looking to complete me?
3. If all purchases are made for needs or luxuries, then what we don't need we want. Why do I want new clothes? The latest iPod? A sweet ride/designer perfume/a boyfriend/a job/friends? Now, that might be a little harsh (some would say they "need" a job and friends), but I want to take this to the logical conclusion. What do I think I lack?

I suppose if I look at my wants (which I wrote about in my last post, actually), it looks like what I want most is purpose and significance. I want to matter... to matter to the public (job, a championship, NASCAR, success in some arena), to a man, to myself. Isn't that what we all want?

So what is my mattering, my purpose, my significance? I think dwelling on my wants rather than the reason for my wants has caused me most of my uneasiness over this life stage. I hate being idle, but I hate it because I want instant gratification through recognition of my value in a workplace. If I can't even be unemployed for a little while when it's common, socially acceptable and I have so many fun things to do, how am I going to be content to stay behind the scenes and raise my children? If I don't conquer this now, I could become one of those mothers who live vicariously through their kids' successes and failures, holding them to impossibly high standards and putting my own desires for recognition and validation above their need to grow up, make mistakes, and follow their unique passions.

Weird... I thought this blog was going to take the course of "we buy iPods to feel cool; we buy designer labels to look successful; we buy lotion/perfumes/makeup to make us feel attractive when really it's what's behind that that makes us attractive or not." I guess I'm so self-obsessed and narcissistic (my blog, facebook, & twitter all are evidence to this point) that I can't even write a philosophical entry about the tendencies of the consumeristic American culture to use things to fill their empty hearts. It always has to be about me, I suppose.

Now, I'm off to address the reason behind my many wants and uneasiness... and then I'm going to bed. I also want to apologize for the profuse sprinkling of parentheses in this entry. I'm not usually so grotesquely liberal with them and I don't want to abuse your patience.

2 comments:

bass family said...

I think you are asking really important questions, Janel! Hope the job search is going well. In the meantime... enjoy your adventures :) The day will come soon enough that you have no choice but to be grown-up and tied down. When the time comes, you will be ready and you will love it (most of the time). But for now... enjoy your freedom :)

Crashnab said...

We (our culture/generation) are groomed with a heightened belief in self-importance. Stress has always been applied more to our potential rather than our end product. What others had to achieve we call our rights. We deserve before we earn. This creates an inevitable sense of failure.
Instead of working hard to reach our dreams, some of us dream and then never accept that the work is hard. Any success we may achieve is still not good enough because we think we deserve better. Eventually we will be the people who listen to self-help tapes in the car on our way to New England to go "find ourselves."

...Wanna start a self-help business? I can see a sales boom on the horizon.