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What buying a new work bag taught me about investing in myself

I carried my laptop and all my other belongings in a flimsy pleather tote bag for longer than I want to admit. It seemed like a good idea when I first started doing it. As an entry-level professional, it was often all I could afford at the time, and the way my non-profit salary, student loans, and meager budget were set up, it was the only solution that seemed to make sense.

I later switched to a Jansport backpack, and that worked fine…until it didn’t. I carried it around until there were holes in it, then went right back to stuffing everything into a black vinyl tote bag that could barely hold my laptop, bullet journal, pens, wallet and other everyday belongings. I just knew that one day, the weight of all those things would make one of the straps of the tote bag snap and then I’d be out here looking like Boo Boo the Fool, no longer able to carry my things with ease.

The truth is, as time went on, I could have afforded to buy a new work bag sooner. But I had convinced myself that I didn’t “need” to spend money on a better bag. That I didn’t deserve to “spend money like that.” That there was no way I could ever even afford one, so why even look for a better solution? So I did what many folks who were raised in poverty or with economic insecurity: I made do. And I kept making do, even when I didn’t have to anymore.

Simply put, I made what should have been a short-term solution into a long-term habit. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could invest in a sturdier, bigger work bag because frankly, I talked myself into believing that I wasn’t worth the investment.

A little over two months ago, I looked over at my Black pleather tote bag and decided enough was enough. We had a good run, but I outgrew using that bag for…well, everything. I started looking for a new bag that better suited my needs and my lifestyle. I wanted a bag that was stylish but practical and professional at the same time. And more importantly, I wanted it to be big enough to hold my laptop and bullet journal supplies and still have room for, say, a set of gym clothes.

My Twitter homegirl Melody recommended Dagne Dover to me over a year ago. Back in April, I visited their site again to see what they offered in the way of work and travel bags. The moment I laid eyes on the Landon Carryall, I was in love.

Large Landon Carryall from  Dagne Dover  in Storm Blue (currently out of stock, other colors available.)

Large Landon Carryall from Dagne Dover in Storm Blue (currently out of stock, other colors available.)

At $185, it was the most expensive bag I would buy at this point in my life and career. I found myself talking myself out of it, playing the tapes of those limiting beliefs in head again. LOL are you kidding me? There’s no way you can ever afford that. You don’t need that damn bag. You don’t even deserve a bag that nice.

So, I did what I am known to do in these moments: I crowdsourced some cheaper options. I figured, maybe I could find a bag I love just as much at a lower price. Maybe I could sacrifice what I want by buying some that I just “kinda like.” Maybe I could make do again.

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I thought I’d magically find a cheaper option that I liked enough to settle for. It didn’t quite work out that way. None of the other options gave me all the things I wanted, but what was really telling were all the folks endorsing the Dagne Dover bag. “It will last you forever and is nearly indestructible,” one friend said. “You will not regret the investment,” said another.

But what really snatched my wig was advice from Carol McDonald, my CEO:

“Spend the money on the bag you want/need. A quality work bag is worth the investment. You use it every day and it holds the tools with which you make a living. Don’t skimp.”

Welp. There it was, plain as day. Carol was right - my bag holds the tools I use to write, plan, build strategies for clients. It was worth the investment. I didn’t have to skimp and I didn’t have to sell myself short.

So, I saved a little bit of money each week for a month, and then purchased my first Grown Ass Woman Work Bag.

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I am more than impressed with my purchase for Dagne Dover. The Landon Carryall is durable, stylish, and I have more than enough room for all the things. Not only would I recommend it to other folks, I would absolutely purchase it again in a different color. It also comes with a mesh wristlet that can be hooked into the interior of the bag and detached as needed, as well as a larger pouch for shoes or other items. The large bag retails for $185, and the sizes range from Extra Small or Extra Large. If you’re looking for a new work bag, this is the one.

The Landon Carryall has all the room for all the things.

The Landon Carryall has all the room for all the things.

The process of buying a new work bag taught me a lot about confronting my fear of investing in myself. I am unlearning my habit of defaulting to “LOL, I can’t afford that [class, product, etc. that will enrich my life or career].” Instead, I am asking myself, “How can I make this work so that I can invest in this opportunity?” That simple shift helps me go after what I really want and stop settling and telling myself that the next best thing will have to do.

In the words of D.R.A.M., I had to tell myself to go and get it myself.

What is the thing you have talked yourself out of wanting? Give yourself the permission to make a plan and go get it for yourself.

If you’re ready to fall in love with your own Landon Carryall, you can use this link to receive 10% off.

Loryn Wilson Carter