I’ve never been a person to want for much. As a child not having much wasn’t unusual. Nobody had much. Most of my friends, including myself, grew up in a house with one tv, one car, and hand me down clothes, and to this day I still think there is nothing better than a pair of jeans that have been worn and washed 100x. I didn’t realize until my 40’s the reason my mom probably made the same things for dinner, Monday soup, Tuesday spaghetti…Friday homemade pizza wasn’t because she didn’t like other foods but because that way she could budget herself at the grocery store. I didn’t realize, because honestly I never felt like I didn’t have a lot, I always felt like I had what I needed.
I carried this way of thinking into my young adult years. “Things” really weren’t important. And I’m talking about things that most people saw as necessities. For example, my son, for his 10th birthday, asked for cable, and it took me until then to turn in the rabbit ears for “modern technology” and a tv bigger than 13”. It took until my kids, twins, were in the 5th grade and I was 33 for me to accept I better learn how to drive and get a car, because now my title and duties as mom included chauffeur. I was a single mom and up until then we walked everywhere, daycare, then school, the grocery store, church, wherever we needed to go. I lived two miles from the beach in Florida. Did you know that you could get a cab ride for $5.00 each way? That’s $10.00 for the day. I’m still not sure that isn’t the way to go, I mean driving 20 minutes to find a “good” parking spot and then paying for parking? Think about it? Door to beach service and you get sand in someone else’s car.
My kids are 24 now, and over the years I’ve had the good fortune and opportunity to have more “stuff”. Yes, I’ve even turned in my flip phone.
Now you may think, if you’ve been patient enough to read along, that the moral of this story is going to be that you don’t need stuff, that I’m going to say, oh how I wish life was simpler, like it used to be.
Because if you tried to take any of the things I have now away from me, I might bite you. What I noticed about myself, is that I don’t want anything, UNTIL… I have it. God forbid I don’t have my car for a couple hours because I need service or someone needs to borrow it. Don’t you dare take my iPhone away, how does one live without it? And although I’ve turned in my cable for Netflix, please oh please don’t take away my weekly shows in high definition.
I’ve known this about myself for sometime now. I still don’t want for much but once I have it, just please don’t take it away.What I didn’t know, and am just starting to discover, is this doesn’t only apply to material things. Self respect, self worth and self value. Those used to be things I didn’t think much about. I mean I knew other people had that stuff, but I didn’t really need it, or want for it. I could get by just fine being taken advantage of, being mistreated, being taken for granted, not expressing my needs or wants. UNTIL…
Until, I realized, I was valuable. Until I realized, I am worth it. Until I realized my opinions do matter. That the things I need and want, I am not only capable of receiving but I am responsible for making sure I do receive them. I actually have to go out and get it. I have to demand it in relationships with my family and my friends, with everyone. I’ve watched for years other people around me say what they need, demand what they want, and usually get it, not being all that concerned with the consequences, like what people might think. Not even seeing that as a consequence, because really, it shouldn’t matter what people think when you are being your authentic self.
Ironically, now I am finding out that I am not ok with not having those things for myself. Compromising to the point that I compromise myself doesn’t feel comfortable anymore. The kind of uncomfortable you feel when you’re about to have a panic attack because you’ve left the house and forgot your phone. Remember when we didn’t carry phones everywhere? When a mobile phone meant your cord reached into the other room? Yes, that uncomfortable.
But here’s the catch, I can’t say I’m comfortable asking for the things I need either. I am certainly a work in progress. I constantly have to replace the negative talk in my head that says when you ask for the things you need you are selfish. I’m learning there are certain things that you should demand for yourself, that you should “own”. That self respect is something that should not just sit on a shelf somewhere to look at once in a while but be carried with you, polished and admired as often as possible. I have become aware that when I do not express what I need there are many negative effects. I become bitter and my energy ends up focusing on negative things instead of the positive things surrounding me.
Coming to this realization makes me wonder what else “I don’t want” that actually I need? What will I demand for myself tomorrow as I grow to be a person who believes in herself and her wants? What is it that you need? The lessons I learn as I talk to girls and women about being noticed are invaluable. The things I wish for others are the same things I need myself.