I don’t buy myself things. I just don’t do it; I had that impulse trained out of me almost 20 years ago when I arrived in the United States with no money and, for months, no job (and then a shit job that didn’t pay well*), and I was told by my then-partner that she brought in the money and I didn’t so I shouldn’t buy myself things, and it stuck.
I didn’t realize that, for the longest time. And, occasionally during that period, I would buy myself things — for the sake of argument, let’s define that as spending more than, say, $30 on frivolous and non-essential items aimed at making me happy — and when I bought myself things, I’d feel this intense guilt that I was wasting money and didn’t deserve whatever I’d bought, or to be spending that kind of money on myself, and so, I didn’t feel particularly good about it, which was why the buying myself things was only occasional.
Sometimes, people would notice this and ask me why I rarely treated myself, and I’d make a joke along the lines of being cheap because I’m Scottish, because I didn’t really understand yet — and, even if I did, certainly lacked the language to say, I’ve been shamed into thinking that spending money on myself is selfish and wasteful and I don’t quite know what to do with that just yet.
All of this is a train of thought brought about my the fact that, out of nowhere, I found myself remembering that there was a book that I’d really like to read — one that I know from experience isn’t in the local library, otherwise I would have read it already — and… I just went online and bought it like it was nothing. It wasn’t nothing, of course; it actually feels like quite a something, and just the act of doing that small (big) thing feels like a sign that I’m doing okay these days, after all.
(* That I went from the shit paid day job to life as a freelance writer is, perhaps, a sign that I will never look at financial security as a serious life goal. It’s too late to turn that ship around now.)