Post-Purchase Anxiety, or “AAAAAAAAAAA!!!1!”

So I’ve been enjoying my new phone. But to be honest, there’s been an undercurrent of anxiety flowing through things for the past few days, and I haven’t been sure why. My tolerance for change and decision-making has been lower than usual, and I’ve found myself oddly on edge for no apparent reason. And given the stress that comes with the holiday season (especially when working retail), this isn’t exactly the best time to be freaking out. So what was going on?

I thought about it for a bit, and realized that it might be tied to my new phone. Now, I’d be the first to tell you I’m excited to have it, but at the same time it fills me with some conflicting feelings. It’s an awfully nice thing for (irrationality alert) someone like me to have, let alone use. The little things that come with a new phone are also getting under my skin. I have to change several habits, like what pants pocket I put things in (I used to keep my flip phone in the same on as my car keys, which clearly isn’t an option anymore). There’s also the fear that something will happen to my new toy, like me dropping it or scratching or something similarly irreparable. I wasn’t experiencing anxiety or panic attacks (I’ve witnessed those, and they aren’t pretty), but it was definitely uncomfortable.

So while I was sitting outside at heavy practice this week, trying not to freak out, I realized that I had done this before. Several times, even. In fact, every time it seemed to be triggered by significant purchases or changes in my life and routine. When apartment hunting, for instance: looking at places is okay, but things take a dark turn once I finally sign a lease and put down a deposit. Or when I decided to take a voluntary severance package from my old job and focus on grad school full time.

But the worst this happened to me was when I bought my car.

My ex girlfriend had totaled my first car, a green VW earth pimple bug, while driving to an out-of-state SCA event. We were fine, and managed to get home, but I was still without a car. I was able to take the bus/light rail to work, so not having a car wasn’t an immediate issue. But seeing as my parents had bought me my first car, this was to be my first experience going to a dealership and signing on the dotted line.

And oh boy, once I did sign on that dotted line, I was a wreck. I had just spent more money in one fell swoop than I had before or even since (grad school at least was charged in semester installments), and it did a number on me. I literally couldn’t sleep that night: when I wasn’t pacing I was lying on the couch, staring at the ceiling. I was near panic, probably the closest I’ve been in my life.

The feeling eventually passed, luckily. I was able to calm down and focus on making my monthly car payments, which weren’t that bad. Just as I’m sure the anxiety will pass when it comes to my phone. The increased bill charges will become routine, and pulling a large slab of touchscreen out of whichever pocket it settles in will be second nature. But until then, even given how much I’m enjoying things so far, my psyche is feeling a bit fragile.

Maybe I need more duct tape.