I have an aunt who loves to splurge, she works hard and plays hard and I’m not one to begrudge her the good life she’s got. This aunt is just a few years older than me, so in the true sense, she really isn’t an aunt, she’s just an older friend. She buys the fanciest jewelry, the most gorgeous lace materials in town, owns two tastefully decorated homes and drives a fabulous car.
My aunt-friend always goes for summer aboard, year in and out, no matter how scarce the dollar is and she makes it a point of duty to bring me and many others around her a little something, no matter how small it is. This friend, you see, I’ve since discovered has somehow found the balance between giving to others and yet splurging generously on herself.
For instance, she will never lend you money she can’t walk away from.
Why? I once asked.
“Many people have no intention of returning the money they borrow from you. And if you ask they begin to imagine you are asking for the much you have from the little they have.”
I could relate with that.
“Many won’t even pick your calls again,” she said.
With me, they come back for more loans, as if the first has been paid. Or could it be they forgot? Shame would not let me remind them they are still owing me.
But why should I go hounding the person who borrowed money from me?
I’m yet to grasp that simple way of life, don’t give what you can’t walk away from. But here’s the thing. Many times, what we give are intangibles. I mean those of us who are caregivers, either to parents, kids, relatives or even to total strangers often neglect to take care of themselves or give back to ourselves.
We often come last on the list of needs to be met, either on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. We are the last to eat after slaving for hours in the kitchen, we are the last to spend a few naira on ourselves after working 7am to 10pm every month and after deducting school fees, parental allowances, rent, siblings upkeep, family commitments and all sundry bills and none financial obligations, we often hold back from doing stuff we really love to do.
We hardly fall for the temptation to splurge on that spa treatment or that meal at the new restaurant down the road or those pair of fantastic looking shoes we’ve been dying to have, it seems the drudgery of life is heavy upon us
We feel guilty about any kind of spend or care on ourselves, we neither find enough to save nor have time to nurture our own health which often suffers massively because we imagine someday we would get round to going for that full body exam or seeing a doctor for that frequent dizzy spells after everyone within our circle of care has been satisfied. In truth, their needs are never fully met, as we all know, the people we reach out to will keep needing more things and our circle of care will keep growing. That’s just life.
Do you belong to that category? The save- the- last –for- everyone- but- me type? I know I’m like that, my needs often have to wait on a loooonnng line.
Now, this doesn’t mean the people who fall in this category are saints, nah! We grumble and once in a while we lash out angrily but most of the time we oblige. Are we then pretenders? I hope not. Are we disgruntled elements here? I don’t think so. Do I feel like Jesus junior? Hell, no!
Now, do I always feel ecstatic after doing some ‘good?’ Nah! Sometimes, I’m just downright angry and kicking myself hard for giving up my need for someone else. I’ve heard about God loving a cheerful giver but it’s heartening to also know that the less cheerful ones won’t get passed by.
I don’t fully understand the psychology behind a heart that gives nor a working revelation of the religious angle to it; is it always a happy heart? Most of the time, ves.
I do know, however, that unlike my aunt-friend, there are many of us who aren’t doing this business of giving right. We burn out too fast and end up not making the mark we strive for and this inevitably makes us joyless.
But like my aunty friend often says, “If you no happy yasef, nobody go happy you”.
I decided to make a few calls last week, in the light of the fact that I’m older *sigh* and wiser.
“Hey! ‘Remember that thing you’ve been hassling me for?”
“Yes! Yes! Have you credited my account?”
“Nahhh! I was calling to let you know you need to look elsewhere, what I have I can’t part with right now, ok?
I didn’t wait for a response
“…remember that so and so you said you wanted?”
“ohh my sister, thannn…
“Don’t thank me yet; remember last year you took a loan you didn’t return?”
“Consider the loan a gift.”
It was so liberating. I also found I could splurge on the change I’d put aside for another.
I owe myself this new joy.
Saying no, doesn’t make me a bad person, it gives me joy!
My sister, go out and spoil yourself, you have worked for it joor!