I’ve noticed something about myself. I am uncomfortable in high-spending situations. And this is true even when I’m not the one paying. Not long ago, a potential vendor took me to lunch at a swanky restaurant. He was paying, but I felt uncomfortable in there. I’ve been frugal for so long that spendy places give me the willies. I’ve found this to be true when we go on cruises (the fawning staff and luxurious restaurants, even though they’re included in the ticket make me uncomfortable), when I’m invited to a Christmas party being held at a country club, when I was gifted an afternoon at the spa, and even when I go to someone’s over the top McMansion for a baby shower. Things that smack of overconsumption, large outlays of money, and ostentatiousness make me uncomfortable.
It’s not that I don’t know how to behave in such places. I know which fork is for which course, and I know how to make polite social small talk at functions (I hate it, but I can do it). I know how to be polite to staff and I have good manners. It’s just that the whole time I’m thinking, “Is this worth it?” and “Wow, with what this dinner (or party, or house) costs I could beef up my retirement account, go on a retreat to the mountains, or do some needed work around the house.” Some people have the ability to relax and be fawned over. They relish the pampering. I am apparently not one of them. Which is why I’m so much better suited to the simple life.
It’s not that I don’t like to have fun. I do. But my definition of fun, success, and worthwhile outlays of money are much simpler than many people’s. I’ve lived a simple life for so long that it’s become part of who I am. It’s seeped so deeply into my psyche that I cannot relax and enjoy spendy things. I much prefer to surround myself with simple, functional items rather than luxurious items. And I don’t really find myself wanting to upgrade my life to incorporate those things into it because I know they don’t bring me happiness. That’s not to say that people who enjoy spendy occasions or things are wrong or bad people. They’re not. Just like I can’t enjoy high spending outings, my simple life is no fun for them. We’re just different from each other.
I’ve yet to find a cure for my discomfort and I don’t think there is one. I suspect that even if I won the lottery and could do anything and have anything, that many of my tastes and loves would remain the same. My idea of a big splurge might be to buy a new car rather than used, but even then I’d have to run the numbers.
The one thing I do have to watch, though, is that I don’t let my discomfort ruin the outing for others. At that lunch I mentioned earlier, I had to watch my comments and facial expressions so that my host wouldn’t see how uncomfortable I was. He’d chosen this place to be nice (to schmooze me) and it was up to me to be gracious and not blurt out, “Seventy dollars for a steak? Are they kidding?” Whenever I’m in a high spending situation, I have to constantly check myself to make certain I’m displaying the appropriate amount of gratitude and graciousness instead of squirming in my seat or telling a server, “No, don’t bother with that, I can get it,” when they are so clearly there to provide stellar service. All of this watchfulness is exhausting, which is another reason I don’t seek out such opportunities.
Just as some people are introverts and others are extroverts, there are some who are comfortable in the lap of luxury and some who squirm in the seat. I’m definitely in the second category. It’s served me well in that I am happier with my simple, inexpensive life. I just have to remember that others enjoy that sort of thing and “go along to get along” when they invite me places.
(Photo courtesy of coneslayer)