Thoughts on “Me Too”

Content warning: Discussion of sexual assault, sexual harassment.

This post in response to the “me too” movement to post the phrase online to show how many people are victims of sexual harassment and assault, in hopes of raising awareness to the problem and (I guess) inspiring change at the personal level.

To all others with “me too” experiences: I love you. I see you. I’m sorry.

There is help out there if you need it: 800.656.HOPE (4673)

 

#metoo (Hi-res linked in profile for anybody who wishes to repost)

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I didn’t want to do a “me too” post because I don’t think it’s going to change anything. It’s solidarity at best. I’m not optimistic to believe that sharing this will spurn any conversations or wake anyone up.

I can’t write about all of my experiences yet. None of them feel legitimate enough, I’ve been told that it could have been much worse or there’s nothing that can be done. But there are a couple that are a perfect example, as far as what I’ve experienced myself, in how this problem is normalized.

These are only my personal experiences and I will not attempt to co-opt or comment on the experiences of other women that I know and love. Those are not my stories to tell.

I’ve also deleted a few stories that would be too easy to identify the offenders. I don’t know if those people would even know that they have caused me any damage and I’m not sure they would care.

One.

I’m 21 years old. I’m working at a restaurant.

We close for the night, I change into a “party dress” as I’m going from work to a birthday party.

I’m informed weeks later, by a romantic partner who also is a coworker, that my shift manager pulled him into the manager’s office to watch security tapes of me walking through the restaurant in my dress.

My partner thought it was funny or at least flattering.

I was mortified. I still worked there and had for months, with the same manager.

When I told him that it was upsetting, he said I should take it as a compliment.

I felt unsafe and disrespected.

But in the end I dropped the subject, because I was too immature and insecure to press my partner on why he didn’t tell the manager to stop or tell him why I didn’t have to take it as a compliment.

The sad part of this experience was that at least then I knew that I couldn’t trust that manager and that I was being recorded at work.

 

Two.

I’m 22 years old. I’m working at a different restaurant.

A regular patron asks me a sexually explicit question in front of a table of 8 people that I have been serving brunch to for a couple of hours.

They are drunk. I am working.

The others at the table all laugh nervously at his question, even the two girls who try to shush him and tell him to leave me alone.

I go to the back of the house and have a panic attack.

My (sweet, amazing, wonderful) manager kicks him and his friends out. They get banned from the restaurant.

That is my one experience with prompt and equitable justice for sexual harassment.

 

Three.

I’m 24 years old. I’m living in Tallahassee.

I find out, through a friend, that there is an anonymous online forum where men are trying to barter for sexually explicit pictures of Tallahassee women they know and want to see naked.

There are explicit comments about my appearance and why people want these photos of me.

I have a panic attack.

I still don’t know who these men are. I could know them. They could be reading this. They think we don’t know about it. We do.

I asked all the men I had dated in Tallahassee that I still had contact with if they had been approached by anyone asking for explicit pictures of me or my friends, or if they knew about this forum. I sent screenshots for proof.

They all said no, claimed to know nothing.

A couple of them offered to do some research on shutting the forum down. Eventually, it just disappeared or went quiet. Nothing happened to these men and I don’t know if any of them were ever identified.

I still don’t know who I can trust about that. I still want to ask people point blank about why this happened. Why this happens. Didn’t anyone see how wrong that was?

 

There is the question floating around of why don’t the people (in my experiences, all have been straight men and one bisexual female) who cross these boundaries and perpetuate this abusive culture out themselves as part of the problem instead of the onus being on the victims to out themselves?

That makes me feel more guilt and shame because I’ve never told any of these people how much they have damaged me. In the cases of abuse, many of these men have considered it my fault that I made them angry, broke up with them or dared to have a physical form they considered attractive.

In other cases, like the online forum or the security videos, they don’t think we know. They don’t think that anyone is going to rat them out. They sure as hell don’t think they are going to get in trouble for any of it.

I want to say fuck being polite, fuck being respectful of these men’s current relationships, I want to say so many things. But I’m still scared and I don’t want to have to deal with it.

I’m tired.

I’m tired and I’m hurting, we are tired and we are hurting and god damn it. That’s just so much.

I don’t have an answer. I don’t want to have to fix this. I don’t want to have to teach someone how they scarred me.

Just leave us alone.

We are so tired.

On 31 Days of Writing: Big Questions

Day 11 of this challenge and I can already tell you that it’s been absolutely liberating, humbling and exhausting. I’m not even half way through yet.

The kindness and support I’ve gotten from everyone reading is truly amazing and I’m so grateful to all of you.

But I have to tell you, I still feel stifled.

I touched on this is my post introducing this challenge, that I need to work through some stuff to be able to get to the meat of what I want to say, but the discipline and the small steps make me feel crazy.

My head is constantly swimming with things I want to say or create. Sometimes it’s more like screaming, like the way anxiety sounds but this time the screaming is words and not just, well, noise.

As much as I’m lusting after these bigger truths, as much as I’m aching to get these heavy pieces out of my head, I’m also feeling more and more fear.

Even as my sweet friends tell me how much they are relating to what I’m writing, that they’re glad I’m doing this, I’m afraid to go further.

The way that we are all used to consuming content is pretty comfortable. We’re used to swallowing stuff that confirms our biases and makes us feel “normal.”

Some of that is really useful for important work like breaking down stigmas or educating people about topics that we would otherwise remain in the dark about.

My concern, as a writer in this day and age, is how far is too far? How do we wake ourselves up to more? Where do we all go from here?

For me, the pull is to go deeper. To go further. To double down.

Every time I write a piece for this blog, I think of five more things I want to say, each one more taboo than the next.

But I know that the way to get there is through the surface first. I have to break into these truths in phases. I understand that’s where I am in the process.

However, my fear comes back when I think about publishing. When I think about sharing this work. When I think about the line between self-publishing and pitching pieces to publications I respect.

 

Black Sheep

I’ll admit, I’m not particularly thrilled with the status quo of blogging and online content. It’s very rare that I find people online that seem to approach this work the way I do.

I see writing as a craft.

Content? Now, content is a trade. I’m happy to say I have a very intimate understanding of that trade and feel lucky to be working with people who want to create high quality work in that sphere.

But this, what I’m doing here and what I am desperately searching for more of, is writing as a craft. Call it blogging, if you want. Whatever. I just don’t see much work like mine out there.

This is where the questions come up again.

Why do I care if not many people are doing work the way I’m doing it?

Do I really need a peer group online to legitimize the personal work I’m doing?

Even if I am completely out of my lane and damn near out of my mind, what are the chances that anyone outside of my nearest and dearest are going to read or notice?

I know there must be some more people out there doing this kind of work than I have been able to find so far.

But with so few other voices in this type of work, utilizing this kind of platform in this way, it’s a constant question of how far is too far? Have I paid my dues? Who would I even pay my dues to?

 

An Invitation

I want more people to have the audacity to try this. I want my friends to abandon this idea of how to blog correctly, how to start a creative business, how to have good manners online.

I want you to just get started.

Because as we can figure this out together. I know we can.

There is a precedent of writers helping writers, artists helping artists, the creative circling of the wagons. It’s been happening for generations and generations before we all got domain names and Instagram handles.

(Here comes one of those risky truths.)

The odds of any of us making six figures from our personal blog is seriously fucking slim.

And really, no one who has a “six figure blog” really makes that just off of their blog posts alone. At least, not a single one that I have found. (If you know of a unicorn, please feel free to email me or comment.)

So why don’t we, instead, focus on doing the work and figuring out how to support each other in that work?

I’m so tired of the myths I’ve built up in my head that because I didn’t finish my degree or go to grad school that the writing life is not really mine to go after. Or that because I don’t write fiction or poetry, that my work isn’t meaningful or creative.

Frankly, I’m just sick and fucking tired of all the unspoken rules and I’m ready to break them.

I want to write the scary shit, I want to support other writers, I want us to legitimize the process and progress and product of our creative work.

How do we create a lucrative environment for us sustain ourselves? What does the next generation of writers look like? Where are going?

As you can probably guess, I have no answers for any of these big, hulking questions.

But I’m going to keep showing up and doing the work. I’m going to keep searching for connections and nurturing the ones I have.

I want to be here for you when you decide to start writing or doing your work.

You are welcome to join me and ask your questions and work your process. I’ll be around.

Thoughts on Needs and Boundaries

Based on a writing prompt from Laurie Wagner. Also, features a brief NSFW analogy.

If you really knew me, you know I’m terrible at asking for help.

I’m even worse at telling people no or standing up for my own needs and boundaries.

I assume I can love everyone hard enough that they won’t hurt me.

This has literally never worked, in my entire life.

Of course there are plenty of people in my life that I love who have never hurt me, but they would have never hurt me in the first place. At least, never intentionally.

The thing I have learned, after trying too hard and giving too much for too many years, is this: you can’t love someone into loving you the way you need to be loved.

This goes for friendships and romantic relationships.

You can only give so much. Eventually, you bump right up against the cliche. Can’t pour from an empty cup.

And really, that kind of loving and giving is its own form of shitty, manipulative immaturity that doesn’t serve anyone. Not your friends, not your lovers.

Speaking of lovers, a good example for this concept is faking an orgasm.

It is often easier to just fake it, give the performance, than it is to have a conversation with your partner about your needs and desires.

It’s even more difficult to have that conversation once you’ve been faking your orgasms for a while. Because you’re lying, even if it’s not a lie meant to hurt them.

Emotional needs can become the same kind of taboo and trap. Once you’ve taken it on the chin (so to speak) for long enough, having to tap out is going to seem like an impossible feat.

I say all of that only because I do both of those things pretty regularly and have suffered for it.

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This is one of those things conversations that I don’t have any kind of solution for, because I’m still actively working on it myself.

When I say I’ve suffered, I mean I’ve stayed in relationships and friendships that were toxic for me longer than was healthy. I’ve hurt people and broken trust. I’ve disappointed people and been disappointed myself.

But since 2017 started, I’ve been actively taking inventory of what I actually need and want in life, which is a very “behind the scenes” kind of process.

By the time I realized that I want certain things and don’t want other things, I’m usually living in some form of opposition to those needs.

You don’t know until you know, I guess.

At this point, I’m working towards being proactive about my needs and boundaries. I’ve been spending a lot more time alone, in my house, which seems to feel like the safest way to do this work.

Eventually I’ll get a therapist or something, I promise. But for now I’m going to keep writing and relistening to the same few albums and journaling and wearing the same outfits and eating really boring food.

That’s not entirely helpful for anyone else, I realize. But here’s what I’m thinking now.

I don’t know if there really is a point at which we can say that we have our needs and boundaries figured out, but I do think that we can get better at expressing them.

We owe it to the people in our lives to be honest and forthcoming with what we need from them. Otherwise, we set all parties up to fail and disappoint eventually.

I’ll just gently encourage you to pay attention to your needs and boundaries. Start to notice when you surrender more of yourself than you really have to give.

If you’re one of those people who are really good at boundaries and communicating your needs, please feel free to share your tips with the class. Lord knows I could use them.

If You’re Also Tired/Angry/Sad

This is not what I wanted to write today. I wanted to write about spooky podcasts or muse on the October fervor that I feel every year.

But instead, I feel like I have to write about tragedy and how tired I am.

I wondered how long it would have taken for me to learn about the Las Vegas shooting if I wasn’t on social media? What I would have written if it wasn’t my routine to check Facebook and Twitter before getting out of bed?

Does any of this make any difference? Does my crying in bed at 8am do anyone any good?

Then there is the pressure to respond. The pressure to be outraged, to grieve publicly and loudly. To call for justice, to count the flaws and wrinkles in our systems. To point fingers.

My heart is in Texas, my heart is in Mexico, my heart is in Puerto Rico, my heart is in Barbuda and in Florida. It is also abroad, it is in the Middle East and in Myanmar. This list is not long enough. I can’t even keep track anymore.

My heart is everywhere, but my body is here. In the woods in Tallahassee, at my desk.

We all know that hope and prayers will not fix any of this. Those are our own comforts. Private luxuries.

I will call my representatives. I will donate money. I will donate blood. I will donate clothes and whatever else I can give away.

But as our own narratives swing back around on us, from calls to be outraged and to resist to instead survive and persist, how do we keep going?

How do we account for our own personal tragedies, our own upheavals and trials, along with those of the world?

I’ve seen death up close this year, I’ve grieved. I’ve celebrated in equal parts to grieving and it’s all life, it’s how things go. Sure, fine.

I am not made to endure all of this. Neither are any of us.

I wake up wanting leadership and action. I don’t want to have to push every single day towards what should be the norm.

We should all be safe, cared for, protected.

I am not an elected official. I am a private citizen, with my own struggles. I want to keep showing up every day. I want to do my part.

But is my part to have to be broken apart every single fucking week by a new tragedy? How does anyone look at anyone else and have time to judge or point blame to a private citizen for how they are reacting–or not reacting–on social media?

I want to build a community. I want to intentionally love harder on the people around me and I want to devote myself to trying to preserve the smaller, below-the-fold lives we lead.

I want to keep us safe, in that way. I want to leave something for my daughter’s daughters to look back on and see that it wasn’t all just terror and violence and rage. That there was love and the seasons changed and we kept going. That we asked questions and tried our hardest.

I’m tired of acting like I’m strong and woke all the time to every single injustice and tragedy. It’s too much. I’m admitting that here, I don’t really care what the outcome of that is.

Here’s what I know I can do:

  • Call my representatives. Vote according to plans for action.
  • Donate. Money, blood, time, possessions. Whatever.
  • Amplify correct information and valuable insights. (But it is not my job to be a news aggregate. There is a reason I’m not a full time journalist.)
  • Keep showing up to my work and my life.

The reality–and this is something I personally realized years ago but forget often–is that we do nobody any good by playing armchair quarterback in a crisis situation.

It is not our responsibility to cure the world with our righteous anger and well-worded social media posts. It just isn’t. We have government and law enforcement that are supposed to protect and serve us. It shouldn’t be up to us. I’m mad as hell that so many of us feel that it is up to us to post our way into progress.

I am mad as hell.

Calling for our elected leaders to actually lead us to peaceful days and guide us through a tragedy is not being political. If everyone was doing their jobs, we wouldn’t have as many tragedies and catastrophes to get political about. It’s truly that simple.

I know I’m going to post and share this. I wonder if I’m already a hypocrite by writing anything at all. But I told myself to write every day this month, so this is what I have this morning.

Anger. Exhaustion. Desperation. Confusion.

Nothing that is going to be cured by a hot take or a think piece. But if you don’t feel up to writing or creating today, maybe this helped you. Maybe you need to be reminded that it’s okay to not be up to the task of saving the world every week.

It’s not your job to save the world. How you decide to cope is ultimately up to you, but if something like writing or art helps you make sense of your own place in this fucked up world, go ahead and do that.

Do what you can. Make some calls, donate, amplify. Take care of yourself.

I love you, I’m sorry we are all in this place together again. Hoping, as always, that it’s the last time I write something like this.

Procrastination Isn’t Cute Anymore

There seems to always be someone a few steps ahead of me, when it comes to creative pursuits. Someone who has take the story I wanted to tell, or made the blog I want to make or gotten the byline I covet.

It’s hard not to react to those discoveries as if I’ve been scalded or scolded.

My friends are unfailingly kind and patient with me when I lament about yet another project that seems to have passed me by. They try to remind me that’s just my ego, that there’s plenty of space for me at the table, for everyone.

Those are comforting words that I have no problem saying to other people about their own pursuits. It’s easy for me to cheer on everyone else in my life. I struggle with seeing those truths when it comes to my own work.

Imposter syndrome is something I’ve talked to my business coach, Michelle, about quite a bit in preparation for finally making this blog public. My lack of confidence is rooted in the preconceived notions of how other people measure success or authority.

I don’t have a college degree, I’ve never had my creative writing published (not counting my high school lit mag glory days,) my life holds no unique set of lived experiences that qualify me to talk about anything at all.

But something inside me reacts to the potential of creation, to the sharing of stories and the mere observation of life. It’s an opening, an expansion that I don’t feel towards anything else in this mortal life. Maybe it’s not much, but it’s something.

What have I been so afraid of?

I’ve been rejected and critiqued plenty, that was never the worry. The fear I have is abandonment, of finally putting something out there and getting no return on the investments of time and support I’ve made in other people’s work.

Not only do I realize that’s both selfish and illogical–because I know my community is an incredible and loving one–I also know that the risks aren’t significant enough for me to continue worrying myself into stagnation. Or at least, continued stagnation.

I’ve had this domain registered for over 2 years at this point.

Delaying and suppressing myself any longer would have just made each new discovery of my creative ideas reflected in the work of others more painful and demoralizing.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t want to turn myself bitter about work I’m just choosing not to do, especially when that bitterness is so easily weaponized against other creatives.

Because, honestly–what’s the worst that could happen?

Nobody reads my work.
People talk about my work behind my back, ask “Who does she think she is?”
Someone labels me a fraud.
I give up after only a few weeks of work.

Worst of all would be giving up my domain and seeing someone else use this space, after years of letting it sit dormant.

So I figure I’m left with one option–risk my pride for the sake of my psyche.

Lately, I’ve started asking new questions.

Why not me?
What if?
How can I not?

New ideas and concepts are already starting to push these old ideas loose, like sharp baby teeth ready to be wiggled free in return for some pocket change and glitter under my pillow. 

Guess I have no choice at this point but to grin and bear it.

Return of the Writing Self

A handwritten musing.

This is not the glamorous return to my writing life I had pictured in my head.

This is not the notebook, the preferred pen or my first choices of setting.

But the day is drawing to a close and I want to give my writing self the satisfaction of one hour on the surface.

My writing self looks and feels a lot like my middle school self. Fantastical and hopelessly romantic, a voracious reader and questionable dresses. Obsessive and innocent. Carefree and wildly under-scheduled.

I remember the hours and hours of uninterrupted time at my little desk in my bedroom, the gutted Singer sewing machine cabinet. Bare feet on the cool iron of the pedal, pulling notebooks from the cubby that once held the machine itself.

I remember my stories, every one of them. There was a very well constructed and tastegul Harry Potter fanfiction. A sweeping novel-style piece I was writing on a steno pad that I passed among my friends, my first taste of what having fans felt like. The magical realism attempt in a Dollar Store composition book. The historical fantasy on that busted up Dell desktop my dad let me use as a glorified typewriter.

I would have rather had a real typewriter, but it wasn’t until I was 21 that I inherited my great-grandmother’s Corona.

My middle school self, my first writing self, would spend what felt like entire days immersed in those pieces. Different containers, different worlds. It was an evolved version of spending entire days out in the yard, playing make-believe stories out in thin air. I just channeled it into writing.

My writing self is a solitary girl at play. Not participating in a sport or a game–there were no rules, no spectators and no competition. It was joyful, explorative and engrossing.

My writing was motivated only by the love of writing and the need for creative expression. I didn’t know about blogging and had no ambitions to publish my work. I wanted to be a teacher, or a youth minister, or a metrologist.

Writing stopped being play when I allowed spectators. In middle school, it was just spectators–still no rules or competition. In high school, rules and competition began to surface. I appreciated the structure and found an editing self. I wanted to work for a publication. I started interning.

As I got older, I found it more and more difficult to make-believe. I started taking long drives and recording my dreams so I could write about them. This is when I started writing about my love life. I started journaling.

It wasn’t until I went to college that I began to see writing as a trade. Editing, organizing, researching were before the writing in the trade. But I first dared to see writing as my bread and butter then.

Once I left college, it’s hard to pinpoint when my writing self dropped below the surface, became a shadow. Possibly during my sophomore year, when my class load became cumbersome and my free time was devoted to a job, a boyfriend, a group of friends that partied.

I don’t regret any of that time spent, but that’s where the marathon writing stopped and my poems slowed to a trickle. I went from writing when I should have been doing anything else, to doing anything to avoid writing.

My writing self was also now in competition with the writing selves of other students. My work was critiqued, graded and rejected. It was also published, paid for.

All of this is not to say that critique and technique are bad or harmful. I created some of my best work under the pressures of internships and course work.

But writing as play, as a life affirming activity that filled what the world had emptied? I forgot what that was like.

 

I knew my writing self still existed because I saw her surface in January, during the writing workshop I took on a whim here in Tallahassee. She is ready to get back to work.

My writing self is less innocent than my younger self. She’s scared that she won’t remember how–or worse–she’ll be too old to play.

Her biggest fear is her seemingly endless competition. She’s been out of the race too long. Everyone else, it seems, has continued to write. That is just who they always were.

I know I am going to have to move past these fears and ego trips. I will have to make sure I’m not choking out my writing self by being broke, hungover, heartbroken.

Trying to come to terms with the oversaturation of the writing landscape, silence the constant comparison and breakneck speed of production on the internet is something I know I’ll have to master.

My writing self is my best self. It’s not a hard thing to nurture, this writing life. Not for me. All I need is somewhere comfortable to work, background music, some decent coffee.

I can’t recreate that best self through sex, romance, socializing, success–none of those things are play. Those are past times, just passing time. Distractions and escapes, endless loops of fueling one kind of unhealthy coping mechanism for another.

Play is important because play can be messy, it can get you hurt. No one is looking out for your every move.

You win nothing, gain nothing, prove nothing when you play.

 

 

Bad with Money

I am horrible with money. I’ve never had a savings account of my own as an adult, my credit score is embarrassing and every month is a jigsaw puzzle of moving spare change around to pay bills on time.

This isn’t because I’m poor, I know I’m still wildly privileged in many ways. This problem isn’t anyone’s fault but my own–I don’t want to come across like I’m looking for sympathy. It’s just that my self control is basically nil when it comes to spending.

I don’t need sympathy. I need a muzzle.

The idea of being good with money is fascinating to me. I have huge internet crushes on some Canadian personal finance and minimalism bloggers. I’ve been fascinated with the concept of minimalism for a year or two now. I even enjoy making budgets, I just can never seem to stick to them for more than a couple of weeks.

I’ve finally reached the point where I’m bored and annoyed with my own bad money habits. I don’t want to keep hearing the same tired narratives over and over again. I don’t want to keep clawing my from paycheck to paycheck.

What’s fascinating and terrifying about unpacking my money baggage is that spending is so tied up into every aspect of my life.

Drinks and meals with friends. Fees to enter state parks or rent tubes for floating down rivers. Paying bills to live on my own and run a business.

It’s also in all of my social media feeds. Buy our beautiful, sustainably made fashion. Hire us to provide you with a service you crave. Purchase a worthwhile resource or tool. Support us on Patreon.

I don’t begrudge anyone their hustle. I get it, I’m right in the mix with them. Everyone needs to make a living.

It’s not anyone’s fault that I can’t control my spending. In fact, it’s more of a compliment than anything that I am over eager to support the businesses that I do spend money at.

However, something’s got to give.

The easiest way to describe it is like discovering you’re intolerant to something. Like dairy or gluten. Eating bagels for breakfast every day for a week will make me break out or bloat like a balloon. If I eat an entire pint of ice cream, I’ll be doubled over in pain for a solid 3 hours.

That’s just my body trying to protect itself.

So I’ve considered reframing the language I use around spending to a mild allergy or intolerance.

“Thanks for the offer, but I have a spending problem so I have to decline.”

“That sounds lovely but do you have spending-free options?”

“Wish I could, but my budget doesn’t react well to non-budgeted purchases.”

There are a few courses and challenges I’m considering taking on to give myself some guidance in making big changes to my spending habits, but I’ll cover those in another post.

I feel like it’s important for me to mention that I’m lucky enough to have very marketable skills and work in a lucrative freelancing space with clients who truly value my work. I want to respect that kind of rare working relationship but shaping up my spending habits.

Here’s the point in the post where I remind you that I don’t have any answers. I just feel like this is something that is too difficult to articulate in real time, this feeling of not ever wanting to say no to people because of money.

If you’re interested, this is the short list of new things I’m trying to start curbing my spending:

  • I got a library card. This not only gives me somewhere to go that isn’t a coffee shop to work, but it also gives me access to books, DVDs and audiobooks that I would otherwise spend money on.
  • I’m making space in my life for previously abandoned pursuits. Reading, video games (that I own but have not finished), drawing and painting. Using up the resources with skills that I already have seems like a pretty noble pursuit at this point.
  • I’m going to be more active, but not just by working out. I want to keep hunting for springs and going for hikes. (Admittedly, a bike and an Eno hammock are on my list of planned purchases.)
  • If I cannot find something I want (also often heard as “need”) secondhand at a thrift store or online or at a yard sale, I’m not going to buy it.

When I think about all of the time and money I’ve spent consuming, I have to face the fact that I could have spent the time and money creating or at the very least experiencing.

I don’t regret the time or money I spend with family or friends, that’s for damn sure. But being more intentional with how I spend that time and money is really worth the extra logistical effort on my part.

The truth is that I’m scared of missing out on anything or having people take my decisions to spend less personally.

But really, what good am I doing anyone if I’m spending myself out of the lifestyle that lets me support local businesses or creatives that I admire?

This is just the beginning of a longer exploration of my relationship to spending and consumer culture, with the hopes of delving into some useful ways to dismantle the toxic patterns I’ve established for myself.