Self-indulgent is not a term I would use to describe myself. At least not usually.
I’m the woman who wears jeans until they’re threadbare. I’m the woman who runs her sneakers until the very last layer of rubber meets the road, and at least one hole emerges in the toe (guess that explains the shin splints….). I’ve always been most comfortable with having simply enough – whatever it is that I need, when I need it.
This isn’t some Pinterest / HGTV-popularized “cool austerity” that seems to have taken over the national aesthetic. It’s also not a thing where I’m incapable of striving for more, or wanting more, for myself. It’s genuinely what I want – having whatever it is that I need, when I need it.
Just ask anyone who’s ever been shopping with me. It can be painfully awkward to be around when I’m confronted with excess anything. On more than one occasion I’ve had to actually leave a store because the amount of stuff (none of which anyone really needs, let’s be honest) made me feel anxious.
But this isn’t a shopping story. This is about self-indulgence of another type.
Merriam-Webster defines self-indulgence as “excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetites, desires or whims.” The excessive part obviously isn’t for me. But unrestrained is something I’d like to explore for a second.
Restraint, as in self-control for the sake of keeping order, is something I have learned to master. Decades of experience sans indulgence. In so many ways, this serves me well …. don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for it. But we’re also talking about the same decades where I internalized freedom from things as denial of self. And that, my friends, is a pretty price to pay for an ordered, simple life.
That denial has looked different ways at different points in my life. Not pursuing dreams I’ve passionately (and secretly) held. Not speaking my mind. Not stopping when I knew putting myself dead last would change the nature and direction of my life forever – and making the choice to endanger my own happiness in the name of someone else’s.
I have GOT to stop doing this, so I’m putting it out there into the world in the hopes that I’ll hold myself more accountable going forward. I am an empowered woman. I always have been. Empowered to help others first and foremost. But I’ve got to give myself the same gift or I’ll keep missing the point, and possibly whatever future is ahead of me.
In my last post, I shared some wishes for you all in 2017. I meant every one of them. They’re best shared widely, so feel free to pass on the love to other people in your lives outside the www.
As I started to think about what my next foray on the blog would be, I remembered I needed to make plans for my life in the New Year as well. Wanting the best for everyone else does not have to mean I restrain, or confine, or reduce, or deny myself to make room for someone else’s happiness. I’ve got to be accountable for what I really want, be who I really am. No apologies. No excuses. No guilt. Simply enough.
For me, 2017 is going to be the year of self-indulgence. I won’t be going shopping for extra jeans or tennis shoes. I love wearing those thin. And I love having – well, being – simply enough.
If that’s how I am best, then why strive for anything else? If simply enough is enough, I’ll keep it that way. Speaking of, let me get started on this (re)New Year. Y’all know how to get home from here? Just close the door behind you. And I’ll leave the light on for our next visit.
Ryan Vale McGonigle
Comment on the featured image: This shot was taken about a year ago. I’m proud to say that while Husband hasn’t been worn down from my incessant need to explore, the jeans pictured here lived a life so full (of holes) that they’ve since retired.