I Struggle To Spend Money On Myself

For the first time in enough years that I can’t actually figure out exactly how long it has been, I’m taking a week off work at a time that isn’t the week between Christmas and New Year’s. For the first time in my life as an adult in the workforce, I’m taking a week off of work to go on a vacation. Even when I was still willing to endure the stress of my family to access the lakehouse every summer, I never managed to take a full week off. I always had to align the trip with a holiday and take only a part of the week off. But this time I’m actually leaving my home to go someplace I’ve never been before with no intention other than to relax and enjoy myself.

The only reason I’m doing this is because two of my siblings and I missed having access to a comfortable place to stay away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, so we decided to take a vacation together. And then brought in a few friends to help split the costs a bit further. One of them is going to be working through at least part of the vacation, apparently, but we’re all leaving to spend a week far removed from our normal lives so we can enjoy a bit of peace and rest. Which is the only way I can justify the expense to myself, by splitting the costs of a week five ways.

I’ve frequently considered taking shorter trips myself, but the guilt of spending that much money on something that wouldn’t actually fix any of my problems has always outweighed what small benefit I have gotten from it. I’ve been in debt for so long that it is difficult to justify any expense that isn’t strictly necessary. Even when I know it will bring me a great deal of joy and happiness, I still need some kind of excuse to spend money on myself. Every time there’s a new video game, a new Nintendo console, some cool book I want, or even a movie I want to see, I have to find a way to justify spending money. Sometimes it is as easy as “I’ve been looking forward to this for years” which is how I justified not only a Switch and Breath of the Wild, but also taking a day off of work so I could park myself outside a Best Buy for a little over twelve hours in early March. Preorders all got snapped up in the first couple hours after the announcement of the Switch, so I had to guarrentee myself access to one somehow.

Most of the time, I have to find a reason I deserve something nice, like filing my taxes or taking care of some difficult aspect of adulthood (like filing my taxes or cleaning my entire apartment from top to bottom). I can eventually work through the lack of a reason, but it takes a degree of effort I’m not always willing to spend. I deserve to be happy and to have things in my life that I enjoy (as does every person), but it is difficult to believe that when your default mode is questioning every expense so you can make sure you’re paying down your debt as quickly as possible. In fact, it is incredibly easy for me to spend money on other people for their birthdays, holidays, and special occasions, which I find increasingly frustrating as I work through valuing myself as much as I value other people. It feels like another barrier I need to work through, being able to justify spending money on myself as easily as I justify spending it on other people.

With enough therapy (an expense I also struggle to justify even though I know how much I need it), maybe I’ll even get over this particular hurdle. It would be nice to be able to walk into a bookstore, pick out some books, and then not need to spend another fifteen to thirty minutes loitering in the store as I justify spending thirty bucks on myself. Maybe someday, you know?

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