Confessions of a School Supply Addict

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” That’s right, it’s time to go back to class after eating ourselves into a food coma over winter break. We’re back in gear and ready to learn, but you know what we need? School supplies.

I LOVE SCHOOL SUPPLIES. In fact, some might call me a bit of an addict. However, the habit of buying brand new sets of notebooks, pencils, binders, dividers, Post-Its, Hi-lighters, oh god and don’t forget beautifully colour-coordinated agendas every semester can get a bit expensive. I’m now in my fourth year of university, I have amassed thousands of writing utensils and too many thought-organizers to count, so it’s time I give up my habit cold turkey. I’m on a student’s budget so it’s officially time I get a hold of myself.

colored pencilsI think my habit started way back in elementary school. At the beginning of each school year, I would sweat in the September heat over the ugly, stiff duo-tangs the district supplied us. Seriously, the person who invented burgundy and forest-green duo-tangs needs to be fired. Did they never consider how they would look together in a rainbow-themed desk arrangement? These “regular people” supplies were never good enough for me. I NEEDED to have binders with lists and duo-tangs with clear covers so that I could draw my own unique covers. Also, those Bic pens in every colour so I could label my notes accordingly.

Luckily, my dad had a home office in the basement of our house. After he went to sleep or was out on a business trip I could steal from his extra cupboard of supplies all I wanted (with constraint, of course; I didn’t want to get caught). I would stand and run my hands over the legal letter envelopes, the empty CDs ready for burning, and file folders. I didn’t need any of it in grade five, but I wanted it.

Years later, now at UVic, there’s a whole bookstore full of cool, trendy, and more importantly colour-coded items for making my school year the most organized ever — those coil-ringed UVIC notebooks in every hue are darlings of mine.

The logic goes like this: the more supplies you have, the more organized you’ll be, and everyone knows the most organized person is the most successful. Or at least, that’s the idea behind each purchase. The adrenaline rush as I pierce a new pair of scissors into the shrink-wrapped stack of extra-thick lined paper is enough to keep me coming back every semester.

Being in a school environment makes this a very difficult addiction to quit. Every morning as I get off the bus beside the Bookstore, I hear the erasable pens whispering to me from the shelves.

“Look over here! We have a new shade of blue. You need the aquamarine shade to make your set complete,” they call as I charge off to class, trying to drown them out with the steady clomp of my footsteps.

I watch as my friends pull out new supplies for our first class of the semester and feel the overwhelming twang of jealousy creep up my neck. I cringe, then turn away fiddling with my pen from…. dare I say these words… my pen from two years ago. Yes. I’ve even stooped to looking through my old supplies and seeing what I can salvage. At my own office job, I now catch myself wanting to slip a stapler into my backpack, because “have you ever seen a red one like that?” Now, I even pick up pens left behind at lectures that might be cooler than my old ones. I can’t help myself.

Each day is a struggle, but after over a decade of excessive supply buying, I now know better: It’s more about who I am as a student than my supplies.

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