If you know me, you know that I love to shop. I love anything and everything that has to do with fashion. Fashion inspires me. It is my favorite form of art, and in my opinion, the most important.

I see the looks I get when I rave about a new BCBG sweater my favorite boutique just got in. Only certain girls see what I see. I guess we are a certain breed. We see what we wear as who we are and who we aspire to be. Clothing inspires us. Our eyes are not searching for merely a brand or label, it is far more than that. Our eyes light up when we see the piece that we know is us. And for each of us that piece is different, and that is why fashion is the most beautiful form of art.

To my breed, this is the best time of the year. Malls are glittering and sales are glaring. Black Friday is arguably the best day of the year for people like me. Almost every year, since fashion has stolen my heart, I have made it a top priority to start my Friday morning early with my mom and sisters at our favorite stores. But this year was different.

REI released in October that they would be closing all 143 of their stores on Black Friday, arguably the most profitable day of the whole year, in order to promote and encourage their employees and customers to get outside.

I do love the outdoors and being a Colorado Native has made me more active and outdoorsy then most all-things-fashion-obsessed girls but I mean, c’mon, on Black Friday?

My sister had mentioned REI’s OptOutside campaign for Black Friday to me earlier in the week, but I never even needed to respond. I knew she would take my silence as a glaringly loud NO WAY about missing out on Black Friday. But I had no idea that 4 days later, I would be outside in the fresh air instead of crammed in a line at JCrew.

Don’t ask me how it happened or how I got convinced but I ended up on a beautiful walk in the Colorado Mountain air. If there is one place to #OptOutside, it has got to be Colorado. I might be biased, but despite that, I believe that a dose of Rocky Mountain Air can cure anything.

My sisters' Instagram depicting the Colorado Lifestyle #OptOutside
My sisters’ Instagram depicting the Colorado Lifestyle #OptOutside

Stress from my freshman year of college had engulfed me. Every minute I was on the go. Whether it be to grab a meal with new friends, run off to class, or study for my next big Micro exam, I never felt like I could really breathe.

It may sound crazy, but I was excited for my time with my sisters at the mall over Thanksgiving break. Yes, I may or may not be a bit obsessed with the newest Kate Spade Tote and my tiny dorm-room closet may or may not be exploding from too many Anthropology sweaters, but sadly, I usually relied on shopping to calm me down. I didn’t see shopping as just another way to buy more things but I saw it as time for me to spend with my mom, sisters, or best friends doing what I loved to do. I was so looking forward to all the sales and being reunited with my favorite boutiques.

But what I ended up doing rewarded me far more than that ever could.

The night before Black Friday, all of us,  including my cousins, went around saying what we were thankful for. We all ended up basically saying the same thing: our family. I have had the honor of growing up very connected and close with all of my siblings and cousins. I consider myself so blessed to be able to truly call my family my best friends. After four years of high school, I had experienced the pain that can come from valuing people to highly who didn’t reciprocate that. I had lost best friends who I had thought I would have forever. But after going to college and being separated from my family by 1,000 miles, I have seen how truly important it is to prioritize the time you have with them. Other friendships may fade away but the relationships with the people you share blood with never will.

My three sisters and I on our Black Friday adventure with the beautiful Rocky Mountains in the background.
My three sisters and I on our Black Friday adventure with the beautiful Rocky Mountains in the background.

My time with my family spent in the brisk Colorado air over my first college Thanksgiving Break, and specifically on Black Friday, has truly made me realize how precious this time I have with them really is. As hard as it is for me to admit, clothes will go in and out of style and I might outgrow my favorite pair of 7’s Jeans, but my family will always be there.

There will never be a price limit on the time spent with family.

My brother and dad will never think spending time with me is out of style, my sisters will never be too ‘pricey’ for me, my mom will never be snobby about what I wear into the house. Family is priceless and timeless.

I never expected an REI campaign created to discourage Black Friday Chaos and encourage people to get outside would reveal so much to me. After the genuine time spent outside with my family, I saw the value in reveling at the beauty that God has put before us.

Fashion may be the best human form of art to me but nothing can beat what God has laid his paint brush on.

The rocky mountain air and breathtaking Colorado landscape showed me more than any designer boutique ever could.

REI’s campaign to #OptOutside may not have appealed to most girls like me, but I would not trade how and where I spent my Black Friday for any sale or half-priced booties. REI’s different approach to Black Friday has inspired me to opt outside more often and more importantly to put time with the people I love before any sort of materialistic desire.

Even though I never thought it could be true, a shopaholic going cold-turkey on Black Friday really can bring about more good than bad, and most importantly, will bring valuable lessons over valuable things.