After a weekend of nothing but self care, I’ve decided that it might not be for me.
I am well aware that I am at risk of getting hung, drawn and quartered for this blog post, but, since I had a more-than-revitalising weekend, I think I’ve got the energy to handle it, so let’s get into it shall we?
I recently partook in an abundance of self care. We’re talking three hours in bed, devouring 300 pages of my book whilst sipping coffee, a 20 minute shower in which I exfoliated my entire body, before oiling and moisturising my skin to within an inch of it’s life. We’re talking new sock shopping and hours upon hours spent in front of the television eating biscuits.
There were white roses in a vase in the kitchen, there were candles lit and there was food. A lot of food, a disgusting amount of food actually, but who’s checking.
I indulged every whim, put my own needs first, did what I damn well wanted. I was uncharacteristically selfish.
I tried sugar coating it. I tried defending my actions to myself. I tried not to notice as Alex asked me how many roast potatoes I wanted (eighteen) as he sweated in the kitchen and I snuggled under my blanket. I tried to call it self-care. I tried even harder to believe that that’s what it was. But I can’t sugar coat it, I can’t, in good faith, describe it as anything other than what it was: selfish.
Lovely. Necessary, even. But selfish none-the-less.
Whilst I was busy ‘nurturing my soul’, my boyfriend did three loads of washing. Whilst I ‘showed myself the love my body desperately needed’, various members of my friends and family were derived of my company. Whilst I was busy ‘doing whatever the fuck I wanted’, the rest of the world around me cracked on with what needed to be done.
I may have entered this week feeling well rested, but I can’t get away from the pang of guilt that I feel when I remember that Alex has had to enter it exhausted after cooking a full roast dinner, taking Bua on four long walks and hoovering the entire house. And whilst I don’t think he minded, I’m feeling a bit shit, blindingly aware that if he hadn’t been prepared to pick up the slack, if he’d been as complicit to laziness as me, that we’d have entered Monday very hungry, with a filthy house and a dog that would’ve shit all over the floor.
So rather than feeling the smug sense of self-righteousness that social media had led me to believe I’d be feeling after a weekend of self love, I actually find myself riddled with guilt.
Sure, it was a lovely weekend filled with rare luxuries, but it’s left me feeling a long way from the person I want to be.
Namely, someone that needs to label and then defend to myself an extra ten minutes in the shower and the enthralment of a new book. Someone that would presume to think, even for a minute, that people gave two shits what I decided to do on my Sunday afternoon. Someone that considers herself important enough that her boyfriend (who works a full working week at a strenuous office job, by the way) had to do my bidding whilst I festered in my own self-adoration.
Because that’s what ‘self-care’ feels like to me. The act, I’m fine with, I’m supportive of. We all need a weekend like this from time to time. The description though, the term, isn’t it just so self-indulgent?
In the olden days, a person would have a weekend like the one I had, and, when asked at work on a Monday morning what they got up to, they’d say something along the lines of: ‘such a chilled one, I was a lazy fucking cow, ate too much, didn’t lift a finger but loved every damn second of it.’
These days, the Instagram-storying-every-area-of-our-lives-aside-from-taking-a-shit days, we don’t feel like that’s appropriate at all. We can’t do nothing for the sake of doing nothing anymore. If we stop, even if only for a moment, we’re going to need a bloody good excuse.
Like feeding your soul. That’s a good excuse. That sounds convincing.
“Don’t worry guys!!! Em isn’t being lazy after-all, she’s f-e-e-d-i-n-g h-e-r s-o-u-l“.
I wrote a blog post the other day about the ‘pressure to be a girl boss‘ and I think this problem is an extension of that. As a freelancer in particular the pressure to be busy, all the damn time, is massive and I think that might be why we’ve had to to re-brand bath time.
Sure, some of us are so busy that we need to schedule meal times into our iCalendars, but for the rest of us, the vast majority, would it be fair to say that the real reason we’ve decided to label our indulgence of fairly basic human desires as ‘self care’, is because we are feeling guilty about having the time to do them?
In a world where some of us show huge portions of our every day lives to basic strangers on the internet, is there a chance we defend our decisions before anyone has the chance to criticise them?
People can’t call you lazy, or think ill of you or judge you if you tell them that you were partaking in self care. They have to instead applaud you for finding and perfecting mindfulness. Then they decide that they should do the same thing, and before you know it the whole world looks like a prune after too long in the bath.
I hate being cynical about this, as I type I can actually feel myself becoming more and more like my mother, a wonderful woman who’s a little too prone to rolling her eyes at various millennial habits. No, I don’t mean to be cynical. I am a massive advocate for self care, for loving yourself, for looking after number one.
What I AM cynical about though, annoyed by, wary of, is the name, the hashtag, the fact that we talk about it with the perfect combination of smug righteousness and defensive tones.
What happened to mean that taking a bath became something that we had to vehemently defend? Why do we have to justify reading a book? How did eating biscuits go from being a delicious pass-time to something craved for by our souls?
Imagine, if you will, how many hashtags I would need to accompany an image of myself in the bath, reading a book AND EATING BISCUITS?
There is nothing wrong with loving yourself and there is no better way to do that than to reward yourself in whatever capacity you see fit.
But by laboriously labelling it, defending it, we are becoming somewhat intolerable.
Telling your mates that you can’t make it to the pub tonight because you’re absolutely knackered and want nothing more than to massage your feet for an hour is fine, it’s totally fine. Telling your Instagram followers that you’ve had the busiest week of your life and all you need is to watch so much television your eyes turn square is also absolutely fine.
But telling anyone, a-n-y-o-n-e, that you’re partaking in self-care, seems to me, to be more riddled with implications than anything else.
The implication that you are busier than the other person, that you deserve more than the grind offers you, that you’re such a damn hustler that you need to actually schedule face mask time.
I’m not going to stop taking baths, I’m not going to stop reading books, I will never stop eating biscuits.
What I will stop doing however is describing this as anything other than what it is: a selfish act that I am fully entitled to because if I want to spend a few minutes every now and then scrubbing at the bobbly bits on the back of my arms, then that’s what I’ll do.
(The book, by the way, is Anatomy Of A Scandal and I’m obviously obsessed by it)