In November 2010, I wrote a prescient blog post entitled, “The Dangers of Being Home Alone.” My main point was that while I was working from home and technically “alone,” I was rarely alone with my thoughts because I was almost never unplugged, never disconnected. Part of me also felt that working from home alone was not the most productive place to be. However, my introvert self LOVED it because, while I was alone, I wasn’t lonely.
But something about that post probably set the wheels in motion, because soon after I started fantasizing about having my own office space outside the house. The notion persisted for the next few months. As business started to pick up, it felt more and more financially feasible. One week in mid-November 2011, I started looking at lease listings on a Monday, saw a couple spaces by that Wednesday and had a verbal commitment to take a lovely and affordable space by Friday. This sequence of events is famously known in our house as getting the “Beth Buelow Bee in the Bonnet,” because there are certain things that I get fixated on (“obsessed” is too strong a word, ya know?!), and I don’t stop until I’m done.
Events happened quickly and smoothly enough that I didn’t stop to think too much about them. The thinking kicked in when I started sharing my news with friends and colleagues. These were people with whom I felt safe – no fear, no judgment. And yet… I’d get this catch in my throat before I’d tell them my “I’m leasing an office!” news. The feeling persisted for several tellings, until I almost started second-guessing myself. What was going on!?
It was when I was telling maybe my fifth or sixth person, when the catch came and I found the word that I’d been searching for: indulgent. I felt indulgent for getting my own space. It tapped into my “Who do I think I am…?” insecurities. Really, unless I’m doing a speaking engagement, I do almost of my work on the phone, on the computer or in my clients’ place of business. What the heck do I need an office for? I’m an introvert, for crying out loud! Why would I want to leave my cozy home and spend money to work in a much more public setting?!
I’m not going to expand on that here; the reasons are pretty straightforward and only mildly interesting (but I will probably share in a future blog post, as I experience the pros and cons of the situation). What I find more interesting: the realization that I felt indulgent suddenly brought to mind other times I’d felt something similar but hadn’t identified the feeling…
- When I decided in the middle of my first master’s degree to get a second one because my heart was calling me in a different direction.
- When my husband and I decided that after almost 14 years of marriage, we were happy to remain child-free.
- When I choose not to pursue traditional employment after a cross-country move, but rather follow my instinct to become a coach and writer.
- When I bought an expensive camera for my 40th birthday.
- When I signed up for a photography workshop to learn how to use the camera.
- When I take a power nap in the middle of the afternoon.
- When I buy books, rather than borrowing them from the library.
It almost makes me feel sad to consider this list – indulgent? Really?!? That was my perception. The reality is that each of these choices comes out of knowing who I am and what I need to take care of myself. How can that be indulgent?
At the root of these feelings is low self-worth, scarcity, shame, or even wishing I was someone I wasn’t (someone who wanted a large family, to be super high energy, to tangibly sacrifice in some way… a big time case of the “should”s). It was an indulgence because I was making choices that defied – in my mind – what was generally acceptable and expected.
One of the most important pieces of my message to introverts is this: the more we understand ourselves, the more we will know what we need and be able to act on it. For most introverts, it’s not a luxury to want time, space, solitude, quiet or minimal distractions. It’s not indulgent to want creative stimulation while also needing to recharge by shutting out stimulation for a while.
Putting my finger on the word “indulgent” is what saved me. I realized in that moment that it was a fear-based emotion that wasn’t true or lasting. I looked it in the face and said, “Huh. Really. That’s not it at all!” All of the choices I shared above were made from my heart, from a place of trust, of honoring my needs and knowing that I was worth every penny, every second of time I invested in my choices.
Think about your choices. Consider the times when asking for what you need feels like you are going too far or being selfish. What’s really going on there? Are you giving away your power to the “should”s and “shouldn’t”s around you? Do you feel like your needs and desires are less important than others? It’s worth reflecting upon… otherwise, second-guessing will turn into guilt will turn into shame will turn into habitually rejecting the parts of you that need to be nurtured in order for you to thrive.
This is not about “self-care.” This is about your basic human need to live into your purpose and your light. You’re worth it.
PS: My first thought after reading a draft of this? “Is this post indulgent? Am I spilling my guts just to make myself feel better?” HA! It certainly helps, but feeling better is only a nice by-product of sharing my story. My hope is that it’s invited you into reflection and supports you in making mindful choices for your introverted self in the new year. 🙂
Featured image: REAL indulgence, found via Pinterest.com, http://cdn.thegloss.com/files/2010/09/Triple_Rainbow_Cupcakes_by_dashedandshattered.jpg