Monday, April 24, 2017

Being Myself

I have this little game I play. I collect loose change that I find on countertops, dressers, in pants pockets, on the floor when it fell out of said pockets. When I reach $2.41, I take a little trip to Starbucks and purchase my favorite food item there: dark chocolate graham crackers. The milk chocolate version will do in a pinch, but I've been known to walk away without purchasing any, rather than settle.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I was having difficulty allowing myself this purchase. As I sat with this for the day, I came to the conclusion that the struggle was deeper than whether I should indulge myself this small purchase. I was having trouble justifying ANY purchases. The thought of buying groceries paralyzed me, but knowing I needed to assess my wardrobe (since spring began here WAY WAY WAY too early) in order to make some needed additions was debilitating.

This was not a new recognition for me. For as long as I can remember, I've made an effort not to be a burden to anyone. I don't know if I was influenced by the frugal, conservative culture of the Midwest or if I overheard a conversation that created a misperception about the amount of money my family had (we were solidly middle class and I never had a financial crisis of any kind). Whatever the reason, I internalized very early that it was bad to have needs or desires. So I tried very hard not to ask for things.

I'm not good at being good to myself. What other women have no problem doing--buying a new outfit, getting a mani pedi, going out for lunch, or picking up the latest book by their favorite author--I have never been able to do without justifying it first. As a result, it has just become easier not to, rather than to go through the analysis.

In the end, I usually don't think I'm worth what it costs.

I want to backpedal from that last sentence and explain that I don't struggle with self-esteem issues. I think my words betray something else, though. Lately, I am more aware that I am not as self-confident as I used to be. I'm more fragile than I'd like to admit. Those who are fragile are burdens.

When this has surfaced before, I've denied it was even a struggle, spinning it instead as a badge of honor even as I secretly judged as frivolous those who could spend freely. Other times, though, I wished I could be as carefree, mindless.

I don't know how to get to the root of my issue. It seems so multi-faceted, so complicated. When I've talked about it with friends, they tell me I'm overthinking it and that the solution is to begin practicing a new way of thinking by spending. My husband has told me that all of the earnings from my most recent freelance project are available for me to spend however I want. The very thought strikes fear in my heart. I have bought things before and had buyer's remorse. I'm afraid of making more mistakes, even though undoing them is as simple as returning the purchases. I don't know what I'm even looking for, since I don't have a good sense of style or what would be good foundational pieces to have in my closet. Ack! Deliver me!

That day when I didn't think I could, I bought the graham crackers. They were a quiet declaration of war--my way of saying NO to the lies I've believed, even though I couldn't name them all in the moment. I am going to get to the bottom of this dysfunction, and I am going to be free.


  1. Oh Jenn,
    I am so proud of you for taking that first step...getting those graham crackers without remorse. You
    thought you couldn't do it, but you did!! Our self talk, the things we tell ourselves about who we are and how life works, can influence us in strange ways sometimes. Good for you for having the desire to get to the bottom of the lies you have believed so you can be FREE! You so deserve that.


  2. I have learned so much from some friends we have who are very wealthy- and if he weren't a public figure, you'd never know by seeing them. They are not extravagant in their lifestyle whatsoever. But they are extremely generous with their giving! They will say things all the time about, why would I need to buy a luxury vehicle when I could donate funds for a trip to a child with cancer? That will give me the feeling of money well spent. They're the first to say how grateful and blessed they feel for what they have- but their life-long desire is to give it all away- knowing they'll be fine with their basic needs met.

    I see you as so giving and kind. Maybe it isn't because you don't feel or see your worth? Rather, you have expanded your vision and experiences to truly know how others struggle for the basics, and that is what causes you to pause when it comes time to purchase. I'm just throwing ideas out there- what I truly know is that you will figure it out!! So great to see your writing again!!

    1. Vicky, i was wondering the same thing just a little bit ago as i was thinking about this. i do think that affects my choices. when Bob said how much money i had to spend, my first thought was, "i'd like to give that money to PLC instead of spend it on myself." it's complicated, and what i don't like is that it's handicapping me. therefore it has to be examined and figured out! thanks for the words of encouragement and perspective.