Recently, I had a birthday. My younger brother assumed I was not excited about it. He is thinking about the fanfare being over. No more themed cake, plastic table cloths, or party favor bags.
That is true. My mom did not rent out a roller skating rink and send up to eight hand written invitations (one whole pack) to those who wouldn’t be offended with a less formal query.
Actually, though, my birthday anniversary is more exciting than when I was in middle school. I did not know it then, but I had plenty of opportunities as a young teen to celebrate myself, demand attention, and direct my spare time. Now, my birthday is one of the few times, I told my little brother, I get to make the day about me.
What I really meant is that it is a time I don’t feel guilty about making things about me. I have a husband, children, family, pets, and a household. I work and care about my friends. I worry about planet Earth. There is always something I could be doing for someone else.
The self care movement portrays this very situation. A person putting everyone else first, and finally putting themselves first although the concept is foreign to them since they’ve felt too guilty to do so before.
Birthdays are a great time for indulgences. Asking to sleep in or for someone else to watch your kids while you get caught up on laundry and dishes without tiny interfering hands is a luxury. You can buy things you want but don’t need. You can pick where you order delivery and not feel greedy for adding a dessert to your online cart.
Breaking rules is an indulgence. We like to think of ourselves as good rule followers most of the time and that by doing so we earn the right to break a rule more than the other breakers of rules. In order to avoid guilt, we weigh ourselves as worthy.
So what would it take for us to feel good about “self care”?
I believe it demands you feel like you’ve been guilty whenever you thought about putting yourself first in order to feel good about now “changing” and doing something you enjoy. This may be re-writing the past just as people do when they want to believe they are good rule followers.
It demands you earn the right to put yourself first by being unselfish, although if you’re doing unselfish things in order to being selfish…
It demands there is a right way to do self care, and that those who do self care too much or without guilt are not as worthy of it.
People don’t like to admit how much they do for themselves, for some reason. If I focus on the negatives of today: I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted, did chores instead of sitting down, and didn’t get to buy things that could have made my day easier. If I focus on the positives: I made the most of getting woken early by the dog to drink coffee while it was still hot, chose dinner tonight based on what I fancied out of our choices, and did laundry for the reward of wearing a new hoodie. Yes, I spent most of the day slaving at the sink in purple gloves, at my children’s butts, and stooped in front of the litter box. I still can’t deny that I listened to my music when my children would have preferred Baby Shark on repeat.
We help others at times because we enjoy it, and deny others the joy of doing things for us when we don’t allow them to aid us. Who can say they are wholly worthy?
Self care might lead us to thinking more negatively about our lives in the anticipation of accruing the right to luxuriate. Perhaps companies are hoping this will lead to us spending on our self care.
This reminds me of the push towards efficiency.
“You work hard.
You get a lot done.
You deserve this tool
to make things easier
so you can be more efficient than others
and get more things done than them in less time.
Your reward is time to yourself
without sacrificing the prestige.
All you have to do is buy our product.”
This led to more efficiency as an expectation without prestige or more free time. I’m tired of thinking that things need to equal out and I’m afraid for this new trend. What will self care lead to? What will need to be elevated or demonized in order for the new rules to be written?
Personally, I want self care to be a normal part of life, free from scrutiny of others. I do not want to wonder what sacrifices warranted someone getting their own preference. I think serving others and our selves can be balanced if you want, unbalanced if you do not. I do not crave a reward of approval if I choose to serve others. I want to be happy when people treat themselves no matter the circumstances. I think taking cares of ourselves helps us all be stronger as a whole just as much as bolstering others.
What are you thoughts on this? Do you think #selfcare is benefitting us all?