I’ve always really loved things.
It’s never mattered much what kind of things, as long as they were new to me. From the time I was small, I would turn to my mother while watching commercials and say, “Mom, I need that.” It was never a want; it was always a need.
I was incapable of going into a store without buying something — I always found a reason for needing whatever thing it was, even if I couldn’t really afford it. When I was bored, I’d go to the mall. I’d wander the long concourses lined with shops, see something I wanted in a store window, and tell myself, “If I’m still thinking about it in three days, I’ll go back and get it.” And I was always thinking about that thing three days later, because once I saw something I wanted, I couldn’t get it out of my head. It became an obsession.
When I was a teenager, I’d beg my parents to buy me things and, eventually, they’d give in. They spoiled me rotten and I took advantage of it. If I couldn’t get my mom to buy me what I wanted, I’d bat my eyes at my father. I became an expert at manipulation. And because I’d always been able to have almost anything I wanted, I never really learned the value of money.
When I went away to college, I realized quickly that if I wanted to keep buying things, I’d need a strategy. So I opened several credit cards — the perfect solution to my problem. I figured I’d pay my monthly minimums and I could continue to spend the way I wanted to.
At first, I was in heaven. I spent most of my money on clothes and shoes. I was sure that these things would make me happier and cooler. I thought they’d get me the attention and validation I craved. I thought I wouldn’t be okay without them.
I maxed out every single one of my credit cards in a matter of months. I couldn’t even pay my minimums, and I panicked. Ashamed, I didn’t tell anyone about my financial situation. I began throwing away the unopened bills. Then the debt companies started calling, sometimes up to 20 times a day.
I changed my number.