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
Barb Markway says
WOW! This is soooo good! This is one I’m going to have to reread and take a close look at when I’m labeling something as self-indulgent. I’m pretty sure I do that a lot. Thank you! (and did you do this using Dragon? If so, I’m extra impressed!
@Barb Markway Thanks, Barb! It was amazing, once I found that named it, I kept thinking of more and more times when that feeling was present… many more than made it into this post. I hope your own intentional awareness is supportive to you!
And, I wish I could say I did this post in Dragon! My first attempt to dictate anything meaningful was an embarrassment (seriously!), so it’s going to take some practice. Maybe jumping in with my book as the first dictation project was a little ambitious, LOL!?? A blog post might be good training ground; I’ll have to try that!
Jan Sessions says
Beth, this rings true. Your list of indulgences are fun to read.
The Introvert Entrepreneur says
Thanks, Jan Sessions… my list was longer than what I shared, which was rather revealing to me! 🙂
I know the office space wasn’t the point of this post, but congrats on the new office! I’m in the same boat, the idea of an office has been stewing although I can’t say it’s required. I guess the reason for it is twofold 1) Have a place to be at 7 or 8am making sure I stay on the ball; and 2) Making sure I don’t “walk” into the office at all hours of the day and weekend “just for a second.”
What were your reasons?
@disasteraverted , thanks for asking… my reasons are very much in line with yours. ** My “just for a second” was always an hour or two, and weekends, and I can’t say that it was time well-spent or moved me forward. I was nickel-and-diming my time and energy. It wore me out. ** I am enjoying being surrounded by other entrepreneurs while still having my private space – I feel less isolated. ** There’s the bonus of being able to meet with local clients in my office (rather than a coffee shop with all of its distractions), as well as the general visibility that comes with being out-and-about (for instance, I got my first “I want to learn more” walk-in today!). ** And here’s the fabulous and surprising thing: in the six weeks I’ve been here, I’ve taken my laptop home with me only a handful of times… and the world hasn’t stopped spinning!
There’s more, but I’m stopping there so I don’t end up writing another post :-)… stay tuned for my “report” blog post in a few weeks.
Anastasia Paushkina says
That’s just great but dealing with guilt is what you’ll have to deal with after you get what you want.
The Introvert Entrepreneur says
Anastasia Paushkina, that’s part of my point – there’s guilt if we feel like we don’t deserve it, or haven’t earned it. In some cases, maybe guilt is an honest emotion… we feel it because we have in some way betrayed one or more of our values. But if we’re acting in accordance with our values, then the guilt is more likely caused by thinking we “should” or “shouldn’t” do something. That type of guilt is different; once identified, it can be shifted so that we see our choices as healthy and based in our sense of self-worth and our values. I don’t feel guilt when I get what I want/need, if I’ve made the choice from my heart.
The Introvert Entrepreneur says
The Healing Intuitive, thanks for sharing your story! Yes, I can imagine the range of emotions that comes with being a mom and an entrepreneur, and feeling that tug. And what’s the saying? “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”?? 🙂 Congrats on following your dream, taking care of yourself and your family, and creating success!
The Healing Intuitive says
Thank you! 🙂
So much food for thought here. It’s interesting to think about how the process gets so off-track. How does saying “Here’s what I want” so often lead to “But do I deserve it?”
I’m starting my own consulting business — but I’m doing it completely the wrong way. I’m leaving my current job in a few weeks and don’t even have new clients yet. It seems like the right thing to do (though as an ISTJ, I’m generally mistrustful of my intuition). But every day I wonder if I’m being indulgent about choosing what I really want to do and what will make me happy. Even though that’s such twisted logic! Somehow in our lives we’ve set ourselves up to be always disappointed, to do the things we have to do and not the things we want to do.
Well, enough of that. I know what I want and I’m going after it!
Another excellent post, Beth!
@susan_m_steele , congratulations!! I’m so excited for you!!
You raise a great question – how do we get so off track when it comes to understanding and believing that following our “wants” is actually following our calling, our gifts, our contribution? Perhaps relatively so few people heed their calling and therefore live in the land of “have to” (and as a result don’t realize or embrace that they’re always at choice), that the prevailing attitude is “do what’s necessary, not what’s desirable” (and seeing that choice as an either/or, not a both/and, situation). Otherwise, why would we struggle so much, and need literally thousands of books and magazines and blogs to tell us “DO IT,” to follow our hearts? Where does the deeply embedded guilt come from? (That’s where topics like religion might enter the conversation, and I ain’t goin’ there!)
Susan, it’s fabulous to read your words and know that you are going after what you want… I wish you success beyond your wildest imagination! 🙂
Anastasia Paushkina says
The Introvert Entrepreneur: “I don’t feel guilt when I get what I want/need if I’ve made the choice from my heart” – You are very happy then! this could be the main thing that you’ve reached in your life.
@LiveSucessfully Thanks for RT my blog post, Narelle! It’s so empowering to realize we’re worth our wants 🙂
@coachbethb Indeed Beth! And you wrote about it so succinctly and meaningfully, thank you.
Wow. I bookmarked this a while back and meant to read it sooner. But that would have been indulgent since there’s always work to be done. The word I stumble over is deserving … same thing. I think others deserve, but then when it’s my turn to buy the item that costs extra, take time off, get a massage even when it’s not a special occasion, my head echoes the exact sentiment you said, “Who do you think you are?” I sort of gasped when I read that in your story. I knew I wasn’t the only one but …
So glad to read this and the confirmation that it’s fear, and that taking care of myself is my responsibility … not indulgent at all. So happy you have an office. Thanks for sharing.