Justifying Decisions

There’s something I do sometimes that drives Steve nuts.  I know it, and I’m trying to stop, but it seems to be a deeply ingrained habit.  He asks me to make a simple decision about something, and the first thing that comes out of my mouth is rarely my true feeling about it.  It’s either, “Well, we could do that….” or a few practical reasons to do something, none of which is genuinely revealing.  It’s like I’m protected my deepest self, the one that really wants something particular.   I imagine this is a coping strategy that arose from being Daughter #4 in my family of origin.  I probably didn’t experience much success simply saying, “I want that!” so perhaps I tried to come up with smart sounding reasons why giving me what I want was good for the general public?   Maybe.  Maybe the rejection of my true attachments was too painful, so I would pretend to be interested more in logic, which would appeal to my father.  It’s an interesting head game, anyway.

It came up again this morning, as I was thinking about how to justify something that I’ve wanted for more than a year.  I want a new camera.  I have been using a little Lumix that I borrowed from Steve’s aunt.  I had a Canon AE-1 which my husband bought for me when we were dating in high school.  It lasted 30 years, and then a gear broke down, and I couldn’t advance the film.  So I moved onto the digital point-and-shoot camera, but I’ve dearly missed the ability to focus manually with ease and get really sharp pictures.  What’s been keeping me from just buying a DSLR?  This weird thing I have about justifying what I want.  I never buy anything for myself until I can think of a few practical reasons or some really sentimental reason that will please someone else.  Pretty neurotic, actually.  

The breakthrough this morning was that I thought of the last bit of rationalization I needed to move forward.  It’s not enough that I just want a camera.  It’s not enough that I am turning 50 years old in a week and a half and a birthday present to myself is due.  It’s not enough that I have the money because I’m still only earning minimum wage at my seasonal job.  It’s not enough that I’m planning to take a lot of pictures on my upcoming 3-week trip, and I want them to turn out well.  What got me over the hurdle was thinking that Jim, my late husband, would have bought me that camera in a heartbeat.  On credit, even if he didn’t have the money.  The first camera he bought me was still working fine when he died.   I can hear him now, “Look, dear, the life insurance money is for you, from me.  I want to buy you a new camera.  It would make me happy.”  It would, I’m sure.  And he’d throw in all kinds of extra gadgets just for fun.  A macro lens.  A carrying case.  He was that kind of guy, generous and spontaneous to everyone, including himself. 

Why do I struggle so with offering up a spontaneous decision when I’m asked?

16 thoughts on “Justifying Decisions

  1. Only you can answer that question Scilla and it sounds to me like you have in this post.. In some respects I believe it might historically be a woman/mother thing. We were brought up to believe that we put everyone else first before ourselves and it’s hard to break that habit. it took me years and years before I would buy a good camera… Now go out and DO it.. ya hear me !!!

      • :)… someday I hope we might go on a camera walk together. YOU deserve a good camera that’s for sure.. and from what you’ve told me of Jim I think he would definitely approve .. but a Canon !!!!! shame on you 😉 should definitely be a Nikon!

      • The Canon is to have continuity with my first camera and my beloved. My son got a Nikon, and it’s developed an error message that is as yet unexplained because he can’t afford to ship it off to the Nikon company. I do hear that people divide into camps over this one, and I don’t really know what the differences are.

      • I am only teasing Scilla.. and I have no idea what the differences are either, very little I suspect. I tried out a lot of different cameras in the shop and plumped for the Nikon D5100 because of price largely though it is limited in what lenses you can use with it..

  2. Besides all the other reasons not to buy stuff that you got from your frugal folks, the fact that Jim would buy any expensive toy in a heartbeat put you at the opposite pole of being the one who had to justify expenditure. Because that’s what happens in relationship when one person takes a strong position. The other creates the balance. Now you don’t have to hold the same role and you have internalized Jim, so you can enjoy the balance within yourself. Enjoy your camera — it was the best gift I ever got.

  3. Happy pre-birthday! You absolutely deserve it and you know it’s something you will use. It’s not a gadget that will find itself in a corner with dust on it within a few months. Honestly, there’s really nothing to justify or ponder, do your research so you’re happy with your decision and go buy it!

  4. To return to the canon/nikon thing.. there are lots of Nikon’s that you can use with any lens too.. but it’s often a trade off because of price.. film camera lenses used on digital cameras are rarely able to be used for several reasons largely because the technology is so different. I believe you can get very expensive adapter thingy’s ( memory is going again !! ) but I was told by a pro photographer not to bother with such things.. I did all my research in camera shops and then frankly bought online when I found the camera I wanted ( from a reputable merchant) as it was 1/3rd less money..

  5. Dear Scilla, first of all, let me say what a well written piece this is. The stuff that novels are made of–the kind that are filled with interesting and complex characters with arcs that we can really relate to. Secondly, JUST DO IT! Life, as you know, is short and unpredictable. My mother used her good china every day. “Why should we hide it away where we can’t see it or enjoy it, and then after we’re dead, it will be passed along to someone who does the same.” I was so touched by your head conversation with Jim, and it says so much about him. I think I would really have liked him. But you don’t need his permission to do this one thing for yourself. JUST DO IT!

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