My laptop privileges and Woman money guilt

8:00 AM

 If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my IG story last week about treating myself to a new toy and putting an end to months of of re-arranging my schedule around everyone else in my home. 

If you missed it, here it is : 

I got a new laptop!!!!!!!!

It's been almost a year of having lost my office space, and having to deal with online classes for my daughter, seeing people in my face the whole day long, and pretty much trying to squeeze in some productive time here and there. 
I thought I could make it work, but frankly I was only really kidding myself. 

I never thought I needed the laptop as much as I did until I hat to do without for a fair chunk of the day. See, I have an iPad and I do most of my digital illustration work on it, so I thought that would just do nice for everything else as well. 
But then again, once I am done with the actual illustration work, I often need to transfer into Photoshop to then start phase 2 of the designing process : product design. 
I tried to do it on the Photoshop app for iPad but it's a pain in the butt to use, I don't know why Adobe came to the iPad game so late and thought making an app so complicated to use would cut it. 

I also like to do all the publishing work, blog writing and some of the marketing work from a bigger screen with an actual keyboard, making the laptop essential again.

This led to me falling into a routine that was quite exhausting, with me often waking up at 5am to just squeeze in as much laptop work as possible before 8am, then switch to the iPad to do some illustration work and find myself still full of energy at 10 am but without a laptop to continue the editing work. By 1pm I would get said laptop back but right smack at the time the afternoon slumps hits me, and because I woke up early, the slump would last until nearly 5pm at which point the living room...aka my new working space was taken over by the TV and my daughter while I tried to mask the noise with my noise cancelling earphones and some music of my own. 

Enters the plague of money guilt! 

The one thing that stopped me from buying a new laptop was this ever present guilt of spending money on things perceived as "frivolous". 
A thing I found out from several of my Instagram follower DMs is actually more common than I thought, especially among women. 

It seems that we women, have all been pretty much conditioned from an early age to accommodate everyone around us, and make everyone a priority above us, to the point that money earned by us, is not really fully meant for us to enjoy or splurge with unless everyone else's need had been fully satisfied first. 

The laptop purchase is the latest, and probably the biggest of those moments I had to push myself to just snap out of it. For the record, I ended up buying this MacBook Air (Amazon Affiliate link), and yes going with Apple was the one non negotiable. The laptop I share with my daughter and husband is a MacBook Pro we bought in 2015, and I have an iPhone and an iPad as well. With everything in the Apple ecosystem I can quickly airdrop a file from one device to the other in seconds. 
Before deciding to go with this model, I almost considered a cheaper one, with less hard drive space (and in a less pretty color). I realised quickly though that my heart was set on the one I bought, and that  nothing else would do, but the guilt factor kicked up a notch too...dang dammit! 

I normally spend weeks, if not months debating big purchases and mulling it over until I fabricated an iron clad argument to convince myself (yes myself) that I should do it. This time I spent days in that cycle, probably as the result of all the introspection work I did in the past year as well. 

To really explain the extent of that spending guilt though, I have to let you all know that I nearly considered buying it on EMI even though I could totally afford the full price upfront. For some reason I nearly kid myself into thinking spending a little each month with interest was less evil than just paying everything at once. 
That's right! Conditioned as I was about keeping monthly expenses to a minimum my whole life, buying something on instalment to end up paying more for it in the end was more acceptable than spending more money in one go, but with no interest. 

Fortunately the angels were watching over me that morning and for some reason the EMI feature on my card was not showing up in the payment options on Amazon (god knows why) and I suddenly was put in front of my guilt and fear with just that simple question to answer : 

Do you want that laptop yes or no?

The answer was yes of course because frankly I have reached the end of my rope constantly working my work schedule in tiny fragmented instalment during the day and there is no chance of that changing anytime soon at the moment. 
So, I ripped proverbial the bandaid off, took the plunge and clicked that "Buy" button. 

What happened afterward was a wave of pride, and a feeling of empowerment like no others that one normally get after they did something scary like skydiving, bungee jumping or finally got the courage to jump from the 3 meters high springboard at the pool.

As great a feeling as it was, I find it a bit unsettling that many women report feeling the same way when they buy something just for themselves, with their own money no less! 
Most men will briefly debate the cost factor, balance the pro and cons from a technical viewpoint and buy what fits their needs without worrying if everyone else in their family had been fulfilled before themselves and as long as nobody's finance is put in jeopardy, that is how it should be for everyone really.

Several friends reported that they usually spend more on their kids clothes which they will outgrow in 6 months than they would spend on themselves for a quality pair of pants that will last them years, spare no expenses when it comes to kids classes or even their pet's needs and then freak out at spending a tiny bit on a manicure.
Frankly from my childhood, especially as the eldest and having 3 younger cousins as well as a sister, I feel that that spirit of sacrifice has been deeply ingrained, but now thinking about it, my male cousin was never asked to share his chocolate with my sister which was the youngest of us 3, I was. He also was never asked to lead by example, I was. 
We really can't deny that even in my Western culture upbringing (I live in India for those who don't know) girls were and are still held to a whole different set of standards than boys. 

The double standard is still painfully obvious, a few years ago, this sexism has been put into the spotlight during the Rio Olympic Games during which female athletes were compared to male counterparts, or their success being attributed to their husband, or male coach. More recently a female football player got criticised for celebrating her victory goal in the women's world cup in a too open and apparently "braggish" way, it's ok if male players do that, but god forbid a woman does. 

I touched on that upbringing matter in a 2019 post pointing out that Disney cartoons among others still perpetuate that idea that a girl need to share the spotlight, always make room for her friends and family, and should never put herself first. 
This clearly translates into feeling guilty of doing anything for oneself as an adult, including buying laptops they actually need but still should learn to do without for some crazy reason. 

The return of productivity on my terms

Buying the laptop was of course the best move to do, and in the past week I have achieved a lot more already. One of the biggest improvement though was on my energy level and mood. Waking up at 5am and forcing myself to be super productive as soon as my feet hit the floor put me in a stress mode and I would get snappy, and pretty erratic the whole morning afterwards because I was functioning out of a place where my work time was limited, and my whole routine fragmented against my will. 

Before this whole Covid situation, I would wake up around 6, have breakfast in bed, drink my tea, and take it slow until it was time to drop my daughter to school, then I would work in more or less one stretch until slump time, and then pick up my daughter before resuming work at 4-5pm. 
The routine was balanced, predictable and I knew that if I started a task, I would not be interrupted or forced to do something else due to non availability of my tools. 

Getting some of that back is making a world of difference for my own emotional wellbeing, and no one should be made to feel guilting about buying whatever is going to bring that one. 

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