Why do I feel the need to prove myself in doing silly challenges I will never accomplish?
I do challenges because I think I’m weak.
Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.
All I know is that I am not in the position to need to be challenging myself or depriving myself of things I want to do.
That’s basically it.
It’s a crazy no buying contest with myself.
On another level I am also financially berating myself for spending all this money that I could put to other much more (shall we say) acceptable funds like a home fund, and so on.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I am being hard on myself because I feel like it is not who I was before, and what I used to do.
I used to be way more frugal than this. I remember counting pennies, and obsessing over my debt load like a maniac.
I lost so much weight from not eating because it cost money, and I refused to let myself even buy new pants even though I really needed them.
Where did that woman go?
..and do I really want her to come back?
In the end, no.
No. I don’t want to be that debt-ridden person any more, wringing pennies out of stone and refusing to let myself enjoy life because I owed money.
I have come to the realization that people can change, and if I want to upgrade my lifestyle because it brings actual joy to pick out outfits and have everything be different or whatever, then why am I denying myself what I have worked so hard to earn?
Why am I punishing myself or feeling guilty for spending my own money?
Who do I need to prove this to (answer: no one), that I no longer need to subsist on ramen to clear my debt?
Then the answer kind of came to me:
By being (now a very small) part of this personal finance world talking about money, in some way, I feel guilty for wanting pretty & frivolous things because everywhere I turn, people generally look down on what I love (style, fashion, dressing up), and call it vapid in contrast to all the other things that money could be used towards instead.
Then stack on top of that, that I am in a STEM profession that pays very well and that I work with mostly older, middle-aged men who 75% of the time, it all kind of becomes a little much.
Basically, you kind of feel like you need to prove yourself and this includes NOT being too provocative at work in all the ways you can imagine even with avoiding harmless flirting, and it also goes to also mean that they don’t care about style and shopping either, and as a result, I feel the need to go all crunchy-granola sometimes.
In fact, when I talk about shopping & style, people can’t believe that someone who is that intellectual and practical could be into something so meaningless (I’m paraphrasing here but that’s generally the reaction I get and then they hastily say after getting over their surprise: but you just don’t seem like the type who…… or you’re not like other women…).
(BUT I AM!!)
I can’t tell you how many times people tell me that they find it so strange that I wear high heels.
I’ve lived my whole life being The Smart One, and my attitude and personality for better or for worse, is realistic and practical.
A little bull-headed, if I am to be completely honest…
So when you contrast all of that with things that are normally associated with shallow, vapid personalities — reality TV (my current guilty pleasure is the Real Housewives of NY), chick lit and shopping, most of my colleagues can’t believe I am even willing to admit that I enjoy such ‘brainless’ pursuits.
But really, who needs to prove that they’re an unconventional brainiac all the time?
That becomes pretty boring after a while, not to mention stifling and very one-dimensional.
I think somewhat unconventionally (e.g. minimalism, methods for raising Baby Bun, personal finance geek, tendency to be vegetarian/vegan), but I am also in many ways, a very stereotypically conventional woman (e.g. love to shop, gossips, enjoys style & wearing heels).
I just need to shed this guilty self-imposed cloak of shame in pursuing what I enjoy, ‘brainless’ or not, it makes me happy and that should really be all that I need to know.
I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I need to embrace who I am, as oppositional and as bi-polar as it may seem to others.
So what?!? Who cares, except for myself?
Women are so often presented as one dimensional personalities that some people can’t comprehend the depth and layers of those who don’t fit into one of the traditional molds. In all honesty, that’s their problem. One of the reasons I enjoy your blog as much as I do is because you don’t fit neatly into those traditional molds. Sure, there’s lots of stereotype laden blogs I do follow, but they don’t define me, much like I suspect they don’t define the whole of their writers either. You’re not bipolar, you’re just you. If other people get confused or frustrated because they can’t force you into one of their predefined little pigeonholes, let them deal with that on their own. Keep breaking that mold until they get it.
Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial
I think it’s tough being traditionally “femme” and still get on in arenas that are male-dominated. You shouldn’t have to defend yourself against other people calling what you like less-than! In that regard, shop all you want! You have the money, forget the haters.
On the other hand, I understand where you’re coming from on feeling guilty for spending money. I wince when I look at my spending sometimes and how it’s a reflection of my new well-to-do life rather than my old rags-to-riches one. It worries me that I’m inflating my lifestyle, totally out of control, unable to be as disciplined as I used to be (as I was taught that I ought to be). I’m getting “soft” and it does a number on my self-worth feeling thinking I’m not as resilient as I used to be.
But then I remember how unhappy I was when I had so little money, how constantly frustrated, sad, and hopeless I’d feel not being able to buy things I needed or needing to mete out my meager resources just for daily sustenance. And I think that part of my brain, which I used trained and built and grew, tries to apply those old behaviors and old style of thinking to my new role… which just doesn’t fit anymore. To counteract, for me at least, it’s been helpful to relearn my behaviors while spending. Instead of, “no can’t spend money, never spend money, spending money is bad” I think “will this item make me comfortable? will it improve my daily life? will this improve someone else’s day? do i really want it or do i just find it intriguing?” Because I feel like where I am now in life, false scarcity is no longer a convincing argument.
I think challenges have actual value. When you challenge yourself you get to evolve. At first you fail and then, if you persevere, it becomes a little bit easier and then a piece of cake. Difficult things become common place after a while.
No choosing your challenges, that’s a different story. A challenge that’s not alligned with whom you want to be is a) more difficult to do because you don’t have incentives to keep at it and b) even if you manage to do it, then what?
You just proved youself muleheaded enough to do something you have zero interest in. Cutting your nose to spite your face type of situation.
So yeah, challenges are good as long as they get us closer to the person we want to be. And sometimes we don’t even know we don’t trully want to be that person, until we try.
Great post. I know exactly where you’re coming from. I think sometimes my penny pinching tendencies come from knowing how much I can really blow without any great effort (my teens and early twenties, whilst not debt-fuelled we’re not exactly lacking in excessive spending) and how much I can save if I spend normally.
My wife is good for challenging me when I get too miserly though and it does feel good to own quality clothing, live in a house that’s big enough (but not excessive) after years of living in a shoebox to save £’s, drive a car that’s in good nick and has a few modcons after years of trading down my company car to a roller skate to save the tax and bank the trade-down allowance.
Little relaxations in philosophy that make a big difference to quality of life whilst I’m on the journey to FI. I’ll take a slower ride that’s enjoyable over hair shirts and ramen!
I often feel like I’m confusing for others to comprehend as well. I’m intellectual but I’m also not afraid to get my hands dirty. I know how to build things and change the oil in my car, but I love wearing dresses and big dangly earrings. I had to learn the lesson when I was younger that when people called me “weird,” I should take it as a compliment even if that’s not how they meant it. Because when I try to conform to what other people think I should be, I’m not happy. When I just do what makes me happy and fulfilled, I’m content in my own skin. And who you are changes with time and your situation. So yeah, maybe you’re not who you were when you were broke and struggling, but that’s okay. Maybe you are an incredibly intelligent, high earning woman who contends with a bunch of stuffy old men who think you should be in a bland grey suit like they are instead of in bright colors and heels, but you’re not out to make them happy, you’re out to make yourself happy and that’s what matters. You will only have to be around them for a certain amount of time, but you’re with yourself every day of your life. Be comfortable being you. ^_^