As I scrolled through Facebook last week, I saw a meme that said something to the like “don’t label me as high maintenance if you are not the one paying for it.” Then you add in all those fun social media quizzes asking how “high maintenance” are you? Those struck a chord in my mind.
Is being high maintenance a bad thing? What if I am the one paying for it? Why do you care if I am or I am not? Should I? What exactly does that mean?
According to the Collins Dictionary, the definition is If you describe something or someone as high–maintenance, you mean that they require a lot of time, money, or effort. In their blog, Eharmony states that The phrase “high maintenance woman” casually refers to a woman who places exceptionally high standards on herself and her dating partner. She spends an excessive amount of time on herself. But, really, is it that bad? Maybe being high maintenance does mean that, but also places higher standards on yourself, spending more time on yourself. Displaying self-care. Like the saying above said – it’s only high maintenance if someone else is paying for it. Basically, saying that “high maintenance” people make better mates.
Or is it really self-care?
I’ll admit it. I like to get my hair cut and colored, put on makeup, not dress always in stretch pants (well, most days), get my nails done. Those among other things make me believe I am part human, give me a routine, and feel put together. helps me feel like I am in control of something – me. I am in control of how I look. The better I feel I look, the better I do, the better choices in food, the more I move my body, the clearer I think. I feel a little more put together, ready to tackle projects. It gives me that inside motivation. I like to call it self-care. I am taking care of my needs the way I would like to.
I can’t just do my hair and make-up and not put that to use. Either by creating a video or taking pictures for my business, feeling more confident when going out to meet clients or just to the grocery store. I stand a little taller. Speak a little kinder. Smile a little more. Do I finish my “to do” list? No, but I definitely put a good dent into it.
Being “high maintenance” also means that you are partaking in a form of self-care. Meaning, you are doing something that focuses on you. You are taking some time out of your day, week, or month to focus solely on you. In our crazy and busy worlds, we are so worried about taking care of others that we often ignore ourselves. We need to reframe our thinking. Yes, I said it. Taking even 30 minutes to have a hot shower, put on our power clothes, brush our hair, toss on lip gloss and mascara, yep, that’s all about you. Something we all so desperately need. “High maintenance” isn’t selfish, it is self-care.
For example, I get my nails done. Yes, I splurge on this treat every three weeks or so. Because I have short, brittle nails (thank you thyroid), I cover them. Taking an hour for me every three weeks gives me the self-care I need. I do too many dishes, clean too many sinks, play in my garden too much and craft way too many hours to not have something protecting my nails. Plus, I am supporting my friend’s small business. That’s a win-win!
Yet, so many times, we won’t let ourselves shine and show that we are “put together” because so many judge us. It makes me question why people are afraid to boast when they look or feel good? Does that mean we are being high maintenance? What are we afraid of when others pass judgement?
This past summer I read Jessica Janzen’s book Bring the Joy. (If you haven’t, you should.) In it, she chronicles her life, from her at a young age unsure of where she was going to her marriage, children, ditching her 9 to 5 job to now. One of the things that struck me in the book was that while she stayed at the hospital for four months with her infant son, she got up every day, showered, did her hair and make-up and brought joy to her son, the hospital staff and other families. (Which eventually started the foundation in her son’s name to fight Spinal Muscular Atrophy.) Feel good, do good.
Let me repeat – she got up every day, did her hair and makeup. Every day. Is that high maintenance? No. It is a woman who needed a sense of normalcy and routine in her life that was otherwise spinning out of control. Probably like many of us.
Let there be normalcy!
When COVID-19 hit, we all went into a spiral. At least I did. Not going on with our normal routines. Not seeing friends and family. Not driving the kids to school or attending their after-school activities. Not going to the office. Not even going to the dreaded grocery store! Why would we do our hair, makeup, nails, exercise, do things that qualify as high maintenance?
Well, maybe that could be the one normal thing we do. And, I started. Even blow drying my hair made a difference.
So, when I see those surveys on social media, yes, I do take them in my head. To see how “high maintenance” I am. And, then I wear it with honor. Because, yes, while the world may judge me on how much I take care of myself. I take pride in it. It is something that I enjoy.
In reality, no. I am not “high maintenance.” I am taking care of me.