Have you ever noticed that advertising companies never actually sell the product? That’s what makes them so great at what they do. Instead, they sell you a feeling, whether that’s ease, comfort, convenience, or momentary happiness. They hit you where you’re softest, and dig their claws right in. And no matter how brave, strong, or knowledgable you are, you may still fall culprit. I know I have. But I need to remind you when you hear them whisper sweet promises, dripping with sugar and floating like cotton candy clouds, that they have their agenda too.
Here’s a recent story.
For the last month of 2018, I had been mulling over signing up (again) for a yoga membership. I have already written about the frugal challenge of getting rid of all subscriptions, and have listed gym and yoga memberships as one of the things I’ve given up in the name of frugality. I gave up yoga class in January of 2018 when I embarked on my journey of repaying over $550,000 of student debt, and started identifying myself as the Debtist. It has been over one year since I had attended a yoga class, although I practiced in daily yoga in the comforts of my own home (and PJs). Prior to abandoning yoga entirely, I have been practicing yoga in studios for three years. Not for three years continuously, but when I have a monthly unlimited membership, I try to go every day. My frugal instincts, every fiber of them, fight to pay the cheapest amount per class attended.
So after a year of hiatus, one of which I am extremely proud of, I started getting it into my head that I deserved to start yoga class again. UH-OH. Deserved – the most entitled word in every heavy spender’s vocabulary. It started off with random clips of conversations with the bro, who speaks highly of gym memberships as investments for one’s health. And doesn’t health matter above all else? Investments as in, what we put in now will reward us as we age, avoiding costly medical bills caused by a sedentary lifestyle. And this isn’t to put the blame on the bro, for the failure is all mine. But my head started to speak in snake-like tongues, and hiss at my “lack of consideration” for my health. The frugalist writhes, trying to twist itself out of the suffocating onslaught of convincing arguments for why I should be “paying myself first”. Doubt starts to creep its long shadowy hands into my brain, muddling thought processes. How could I have neglected my body for so long. I definitely deserved a yoga membership. After wrangling finances and achieving so many wins, surely I am now at a position to pay for this one thing? A membership will be more beneficial than my meager daily, at-home practice, where I show myself a little too much self-care. Granted, there are moments where it’s easy to move back into child’s pose, as the well-intentioned YouTuber drones on about a more difficult contortion. How could I cut myself so much slack?! Where is my motivation? I’m not doing myself any favors.
And eventually, the frugalist twitches its last struggle, and gives in.
A strong indication towards the mistake I was about to make should have been my reservations on purchasing the membership. My poor frugalist fought the battle for more than a month. But eventually, he lost, and I reasoned with myself that I needed to start investing in my health. I went so far as to justify it as investing in my profession, since dentistry can be so taxing on the body. If I want to pursue dentistry for a long time, surely I need to balance my static huddled postures over patient heads with a number of back bends and bridge poses, am I right? Surely, I need someone walking around the room making sure that I was going to be doing that instead of lying on my back. And I am frugal after all, so if I purchase this, I know that I will revert back to my good habit of going to yoga every day.
When we got back from our trip to New Zealand, emotions running high from the freedom of responsibility and from chasing future dreams brought on by the New Year, I signed up for an unlimited monthly membership.
I attended a wonderful C-2 class.
Oh how I missed the heat of the yoga studio, a wonderful balmy 90-something degrees.
How I missed the sound of sweat, slowly dripping from my forehead to the yoga mat, mimicking the sound of applause from a cheering spectator crowd.
How I missed getting guidance from yoga instructors, pushing always to improve the posture.
How I missed the words spoken, uplifting yogis out of their daily troubles to a more serene place, activated by the internal rhythmic breath.
I came out of the class having likely sweated away all fog and cleared my mind of unnecessary clutter.
I went home, took a shower, and lied in bed. Then I started to cry.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have the $159 fee. Nor was it that I needed it for something else. At first, I couldn’t pinpoint what I was so upset about. Was it depression from having finished our vacay, finally settling in?! NO!
It was because, deep down, the frugalist still breathes, still fighting, still living. It’s because the person inside me knows that I do the same yoga moves at home, minus the heat, and even without the yoga, still benefit from a non-sedentary lifestyle of always being on the move. It was because I could do the same darn down dog without spending money on gas, spending my time commuting, and spending my car’s fumes at the expense of mother nature. It’s because I had designed a life where I don’t need to exercise according to someone else’s schedule. Wherein I have purposefully made my life so as to never need an alarm clock, and yet here I am with a 5:30am wake-up call blaring, so that I could fit someone else’s yoga schedule into my busy day.
It was because I knew that I was fooled into thinking that motivation lies in accountability confirmed by an instructor and yogi mates.
I was reminded of the ways in which we explain to ourselves why we need to purchase services and things.
I remembered who I was and what I stood for.
Talk about a rude awakening to 2019. I come back from vacay and have completely forgotten myself. Mr. Debtist, being the voice of reason, was there to remind me to just move forward. Make the best of the subscription. So I managed six days in a row, until I fell ill with the flu. And that’s when I knew that I messed up. The signs were all there. That’s when I knew the advertisement agencies won. That’s when I found who I was again, and decided I had to share with you.
It wasn’t worth it, it isn’t still.
It isn’t true that you need to pay for good health.
Self-care is not a bad thing.
Accountability only matters when you care what other people think.
And lastly, you will always know the truth.