Last night, I ordered fried chicken for dinner. It was greasy, crunchy, and delicious and I enjoyed every bite of it as I watched Stranger Things. But that’s not the point of this story. The point is that the restaurant was a 12 minute walk away and I paid for my food to be delivered.
You’re probably thinking what’s the big deal, it’s just a delivery fee and you’re right. It’s just a delivery fee. People pay them all the time, probably without giving them a second thought. But to me, it’s something far more significant. Because just a few months ago, I never would have spent money on something that I could easily have done for myself.
Even though the weather was lousy, even though I had a headache, I would have put on my coat and walked 12 minutes to the restaurant and 12 minutes back home.
I used to think it was about the money. Saving a few dollars here and there was a worthwhile sacrifice if it meant I’d be able to buy an apartment in Vancouver after travelling.
So I continued to sacrifice. Sometimes little things like a glass of wine with dinner; sometimes medium-sized things like a comfortable sleep, and sometimes big things like my safety.
But the sad thing is, it wasn’t about the money at all.
Don’t you think you deserve to be comfortable?, someone asked me once. Don’t you think you deserve pleasure and nice things?
And I started crying because actually, I realized that was the heart of the issue. I didn’t think so, not at all, not one bit. I thought I deserved the bare minimum. I thought little indulgences had to be earned. I thought being able to explore the world was enough – why did I need to eat three meals a day or enjoy the comfort of my own room? Why did I need to pay for a taxi when I was perfectly capable of walking for 30 minutes in the heat with a big backpack?
And now, why do I need to pay to have my food delivered when I’m already lucky enough to be ordering takeout in the first place?
It used to really shock me when people went out of their way to do nice things for me. I suppose because I couldn’t even bring myself to do nice things for me. So it felt strange and intoxicating and wonderful when I was the recipient of kindness. And at the same time, it felt strange, and uncomfortable, and shameful. Terrible feelings that we’re quick to bury but that stew inside us like a bad case of food poisoning.
These days, the same rollercoaster of emotions comes up when I treat myself to nice things. There’s that initial glimmer of excitement, a sort of reckless thrill coursing through my blood as if I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing. And there’s guilt, too…as I’m doing something wrong, something I shouldn’t be doing.
This concept might sound completely foreign to you and I hope it does. I hope you don’t think pleasure has to be earned, or that you’re only worthy of treating yourself if certain conditions are met. I hope you’re not like me.
But if you are, that’s okay too. Some people seem to think that humans are incapable of change but I think we’re changing all the time. We’re growing and shrinking, becoming and unbecoming. Every day, I get more and more comfortable with how it feels to treat myself, to take care of myself. Like a layer of unwanted dust, the shame settles. I build the foundation of enjoying my life and embracing pleasure without feeling guilty about it.
It starts small, of course. Big transformations always do. It starts, I suppose, with paying for delivery fees.