I love going grocery shopping. And no, this is not an exaggeration.
I, like many other exhausted and overworked college students, don’t have much time during the day to think about things other than studying, eating, hygiene and the possibility of getting those precious eight hours of sleep.
But when I do get to think about something other than the eight-page paper due Wednesday or the group project I have to present next Monday, I think about the grocery store.
Instead of thinking about what I can do with a political science degree post-grad, I get to think about my weekly snack. What will make me the happiest this week: ice cream, pretzels or fruit? (Trick question, it’s all three.)
I have little control over how that teaching assistant will grade my paper, or how much tuition will go up next year, but being in control over my weekly snack choice gives me a sense of tranquility, however short-lived. Mediation can come in many forms, even at the grocery store.
You might be thinking, “Hey, this girl is nuts. The grocery stores are packed whenever I go. They do not give me a sense of peace whatsoever” (I’m looking at you, Trader Joes on Monroe Street).
To this, I say: You have to go to the grocery store during a Packers game. Or a Badgers game. Or at 7 p.m. Or at 8 a.m.
Yes, unorthodox and completely shocking. I know.
I’m not advocating for you to miss every single fun event in your life. But going to the grocery store when there are no screaming kids or long lines will actually make you consider if the grocery store is actually the worst place on earth.
But, you do you.
Spending money is also extremely cathartic. Scientists even say that shopping releases dopamine. Now, I understand that this is a horrible way of maintaining your finances and can lead to a shopping addiction. Fortunately for everyone, I am neither a financial planner nor a life coach.
My solution to the cataclysmic “retail therapy” dilemma is this — instead of going to Target to buy that 10th tube of unnecessary chapstick, you can buy yourself necessities at the grocery store or just a fun snack to tide you over. It works for me.
It’s also fun to just walk around in grocery stores. Growing up in northern Wisconsin, Culvers and Walmart were the few stores to remain open past 7 p.m. during the winter months. This gives teenagers little to do besides wander around the Walmart aisles looking for stuff to buy.
It’s interesting to see what items we’ve convinced ourselves we need. Walking around the grocery store aimlessly provides mindless entertainment when you don’t want to spend any money.
Now, you might be yelling at me through your computer screen (or the paper) that “The illusion of choice still exists!” Frankly, it’s easier not to think about how ten major corporations control most of the food supply in America. There’s only so much I can do in one article.
Another positive component about the grocery store is routine. Most people have time throughout their week carved out specifically for grocery shopping. Why not relish this time to yourself? Getting out of your apartment, house or dorm is critical to staying sane. The grocery store is a perfect excuse for that.
Collectively, I think people need to start seeing the beautiful and exciting in the mundane. Sure, this can apply to the grocery store, but it can pertain to many other things, like being excited for your usual walk to class. Maybe you’re excited to get that ordinary vanilla latte, or maybe you’re thrilled at the prospect of getting to see those ducks around the Terrace.
It’s really hard to be positive in an ever-changing world. But, start simple. You might feel better at the end of the day if you start appreciating the ordinary, even for something as commonplace as the grocery store.
Nina Starynski is a sophomore studying Political Science, Criminal Justice and History. Do you think grocery shopping is meditative? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org