I've found myself wondering recently if 'self care' is just selfishness rebranded in a favourable light. Don't get me wrong, I'm as up for a bath and a pizza as the next girl, but I do wonder if the rush that we are in to justify the me-focussed activities we are engaging in at the moment, to both ourselves, and our Instagram followers, is just serving as an excuse to get away with doing exactly what we want.
Again, I hold my hands up, I'm as in favour of making yourself happy as anyone and firmly believe that you, as the master of your own happiness, have the right to take care of number one first and foremost, but I'm not sure that you need to justify it, particularly not in a way that feels so, well, self indulgent.
It's the connotations, I suspect, of the words 'self-care' that I have such a problem with. In the same way that I can't abide passive aggressive comments on Facebook: 'now I know who my true friends are', which FYI, translates, roughly, to: 'if you don't know what I am talking about then you, dear reader, are NOT a true friend', I find the use of these particular words to be loaded with connotations.
'Tonight I am partaking in self-care'. Is it just me that hears 'since no one else is taking care of me, *SHAME ON YOU ALL* I suppose I'll need to do it myself.'? Maybe. Probably. I've always been sensitive like that, reading too much into everything and a full time adopter of the very British stiff-upper-lip-must-crack-on attitude. Not helped by the fact that I eat pizzas pretty often anyway and rarely feel the need to justify it to anyone.
I love the idea of self care. Of course I do, I promote it all the time. Baths are good. Early nights are good. Walks are good. Meditating is good. Eating chocolate is good. Creating a safe space is good. Keeping your mental health in check is paramount. And that does of course require putting yourself first; it doesn't take a genius to work out that if you work hard all day, are out every night and are constantly on the receiving end of everyone's elses' problems, that you will, after a while, burn out. Sometimes you need to say: no, not tonight. Tonight I want a glass of wine in the bath and to tuck up in bed and watch Gossip Girl until I fall asleep at 8.30pm.
But did we really need to label that? And if we did, did we really have to label it with such a loaded term??? A.... "I'm so selfless ALL THE TIME, is it really too much to ask that I take thirty damn seconds to look after number one?!?!" way of 'getting away' with doing what we want?
I know that I'm very quick to justify any self indulgent activities in my own life. It's all too easy to feel like a slob after your fourth night eating take out in front of the television and even easier to feel like a princess as you sit in the hair salon for the fourth time in as many weeks. All of a sudden you read that there is a name for what you are doing and relief rushes through you: "I'M NOT A SLOB AND I'M NOT A DIVA, NO!! What I'm doing is important, what I am doing is self-care, and I deserve that." Girls, I'm with ya. It's perfect. It's genius. But it's also bloody annoying.
Because the fact of the matter is this: we don't owe anyone anything and we don't need to justify ourselves to anyone either. As I write this I am sitting, alone, in a coffee shop having just paid for a soya latte that I definitely could have made at home. A home which, incidentally, has a bunch of flowers on the side that I bought for myself last night. Flowers that I didn't need, but that I bought because I thought to myself: I deserve these flowers. A thought that faltered slightly, by the way, when the guy at the check-out asked me if they were for anyone special and I had to say: why yes actually, they're for me. It would be all too easy to describe my actions of the last 24 hours as 'self-care', it would be easy too, to describe them as a bit self indulgent, but easiest of all, I have found that it's easiest to not think that much about them at all.
Loving yourself is important, and to have an abundance of 'self love' is wonderful. I'm so on board with that. I am also, despite everything said thus far, a big believer in caring for yourself, it's just the bloody label that I have a problem with. A label that feels more self indulgent, actually, than the act of just doing it.
We, as women, feel that we have a lot to prove. Particularly as millennials. I NEED to be busy, too busy, and I definitely need to tell everyone about it. Having an 'easy life' feels like we're cheating somehow, and no one wants to be accused of that. So rather than portray ourselves as having an easy life; slobbing, relaxing, or being selfish in anyway, we have found a way of justifying our behaviour. Of telling the world that we don't spend every night on the sofa, and when we finally do, that we deserve it. That this isn't normal for us. That the decision to buy a pair of £50 shoes that look exactly the same as every other pair in our wardrobe did not just spring out of midair, rather, it was part of a well calculated plan that involves our well-being. No one's going to accuse you of being selfish once you play a card like that.
Someone asked me on Twitter this afternoon what self care actually was. Was it washing? Was it checking for lumps? And I found myself a little lost for words. I didn't really know... What is self care exactly? Surely it's just taking care of yourself isn't it? Washing, lump checking, and eating out of a carton for good measure. Something that people have been doing for, well, ever.
Guys that doesn't need a name. And it certainly doesn't need to be an excuse. No one thinks you're selfish for doing any of these things, and if they do, you aren't going to help your case in anyway by telling them that you've named your selfishness. Look after yourself. That's fine. That's important. Buying yourself flowers, spending a night in, running a bath, that's just life. And it doesn't need justification.