The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Voice Inside My Head

Posted by Seeking Solace |

It is looking more likely that I will not have a teaching gig for the summer. Most of the position that I have applied are for the Fall semester. None of the local colleges are hiring either. So, I am planning the first Summer of Seeking Solace, after the Summer of George episode of Seinfeld. Every summer since I was 17, I was working or going to school or working AND going to school. This summer, I will have none of those things.

This is a huge thing, my friends. How many people get this opportunity? So why do I feel a twinge of guilt?

I am reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. For those of you unfamiliar, it's the story of a 30-something woman who after a nasty divorce and emotional breakdown, decided to spend a year in three different parts of the world. In one chapter, she talks about the pursuit of pleasure despite feeling guilty. (Chapter 21). She talks about how we, Americans, feel we have to convince ourselves that we deserve to do something pleasurable. We work ourselves stupid only to feel guilt over self indulgence, whereas the Italian culture says "It's all right, have a great time." She realizes that it is perfectly OK to seek pleasure and tells off the voice guilt.

That really stuck me because I completely understood how the author felt. As I continue on my job hiatus. I often feel this ping of guilt if I don't accomplish something productive during the day. The idea of just spending the day reading a book rather than completing some household task starts the pangs of remorse. I was raised that you did your work first before engaging in anything fun. I am sure many of you remember having to do your chores or homework before you could play or watch TV. Why? Would it make any difference if I played first, then did my homework? What's the big deal if I spend the afternoon reading a great book and vacuum my living room at 9 PM?

It doesn't make a bit of difference.

Why am I like this? Why is it so hard for me to put myself first? We woman are really good at putting ourselves at the bottom of the list. Why are we last on the priority scale? Why the guilt if we engage in something strictly for us?

I caught myself thinking that I have to walk the Boy first, before I could do my workout. Why? Why did I decide that my workout was less important than his? As much as I love my Boy, isn't it more important to take care of his mom? Is he going to die because I waited until later to take him for his walk? Then I thought, well I have to clean the living room and kitchen before I do anything else. Why? I am not married to some ogre who wants his house spotless and a hot meal waiting for him. Husband could care less if I vacuum and dust today or tomorrow. And he doesn't care if I tell him that I just want to order pizza.

Sounds silly, no? But ask yourselves, if you have caught yourself in such a dilemma.

So, I am going to enjoy myself this summer. I am going to play and have fun. I am going to soak up the sun, dig in my garden and play with the Boy. I am going read books, go for long walks and cook wonderful meals because I WANT to. Of course, I will continue to look for a job and keep my house tidy, but it does not have be done first, or at all that day.

And I am going to tell that voice to lighten up!


Deb said...

Hooray for you!!

(I think I need to read that book, by the way!)

shrinkykitten said...

This reminds me of a recent news report about the happiest people in the world. Apparently the Danes I almsot called them denmarkians) are the happiest people in the world. The report related this to their fairly low expectations and aspirations - they don't feel a huge need to impress or achieve, rather they find contentment in what they do. They also have an incredible welfare system - one guy broke his foot and couldn't work, so he went onto welfare (no stigma) and was living quite comfortably.

Abbey said...

What's funny about this is that my therapist spent most of an hour trying to convince me I needed to take a day off work soon (good) if not this week (better). And all I could think of was, well maybe if I work late all week I can get my work done in time to take a day off. Hmmm, so I have to work harder to 'deserve' it?

Yeah, this post totally reasonates with me today. I may have to look into picking up a copy of the book now.

BrightStar said...

It's always made me slightly uncomfortable when people say "you deserve it" when something good happens, because it makes me wonder... do some people NOT deserve it? My point in saying that is that you don't have to earn the good things that happen and the pleasure you experience, and it's okay to take time out for some pleasure. It's not selfish at all!

I love the idea of the Summer of Seeking Solace! Can I have a Summer of B*, too?

Seeking Solace said...

B*: Absolutely! You should have a summer of B*!

I get what you say about "deserving" good things. In the book, it talks about the ad industry using phases like "You deserve a break today" to justify our doing something nice. We should do nice things just because we can. I just need to reprogram myself!

BrightStar said...

I think one reason why it's difficult to reprogram is that some of us may have been brought up to think that doing something nice for ourselves is equivalent to NOT doing something nice for other people. I think I always wonder if my effort to be kind to myself encroaches on someone else's right to be happy, you know?

In other news, I read that book and really liked it. I loaned it to Sheepish, because he wanted to see what I liked so much about it, and he liked the first third, but not so much the last two thirds. I can see what bugged him about it, but I really did like the book all around... although some parts were problematic in ways. Anyhow, I really liked reading it, and it helped me cope with some things, too. (Maybe it's a girl book more than a boy book?) I hope you continue to blog your reactions to the book!

Anonymous said...

i think everyone should get a summer of george! enjoy your seeking solace summer!