The woman paying for her green smoothie flashed a discreet sparkle. Vintage, maybe 1920s. The mom behind me sported a huge solitaire. Too much for my taste, but impressive. The hipster working the cash register had three sweet, tiny stones.
Good grief, I was obsessed! Everywhere I went, I couldn’t stop checking out other women’s left hands. Emerald cuts, halos, bezels — oh, how I craved a rock on my finger!
But not because I wanted to be engaged. Oh no.
I’d been married in my early twenties and had vowed never to repeat that particular mistake again. I was as single as a human could possibly be, a happy solo mom, and hadn’t been on so much as a date in five years.
I didn’t want a fiancé — just the jewelry!
I was a little embarrassed by the intensity of this desire. It felt so decadent. And frivolous. And like maybe I wasn’t a good feminist. Surely I should invest that money instead, or sock it away in my Roth IRA, or tuck it away for a rainy day. If I wanted to spend it just for joy, I should do something virtuous, like a yoga retreat, or at least something educational, like a trip to Europe.
Why did I need a societally approved status symbol to prove my own worth?
I found myself thinking a lot about rings, and their potent symbolism. They can signify royalty, fidelity, and loyalty. They can mean love or bondage. They can mean wealth or slavery. I was conflicted about rings.
But I wanted one. I really, really wanted one.
Then I remembered something.
I am a grown woman. I make my own money. I make my living, in fact, reminding women that they are much more powerful than they believe.
I decided to buy a ring as a symbol of the truth that I don’t need to wait around for a lover to bring me what I want. I can create that for myself. It was hugely empowering to buy myself a beautiful vintage sparkler for my own left ring finger.
It might seem silly or materialistic to some people, but to me it is an ever-present reminder to rethink my own value. I don’t have to listen to the many crummy, culturally ingrained messages to women about what it means to wear, or not wear, a sparkly bit of the earth on that particular part of the body. I can reject the misogynistic notion that a woman is a prize to be won or a piece of property to be purchased.
I discovered a part of me had been waiting for permission not just to wear a ring, but to do all kinds of things I wanted. The ring now reminds me every day that I am free to create whatever I want in my own life, on my own terms.
It quietly flashes there on my finger, a potent symbol of my own ability to create a life that is beautiful — even gorgeous — all on my own.
It has become a talisman of sorts, and I believe it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.
A talisman doesn’t have to be a ring, of course. It can be any piece of jewelry, or a tattoo, or a piece of clothing — anything that tangibly reminds you of a powerful truth. My ring helped me make visible my own power and freedom. That’s priceless.
(Also? Three months after I bought myself the ring, the love of my life showed up — but that’s another story!)
Anna Kunnecke is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.