on being selfish.

one thing i think is important to address, especially for my fellow twentysomethings:

it’s okay to be selfish. in fact, you should practice it. take selfishness for a spin. you’ll be surprised.

it’s almost a four-letter word; when we were little, the last thing you wanted to be was considered selfish. it was up there with greedy, gluttonous, rude, self-centered, almost narcissistic even sometimes. share your toys, play well with others, be a good friend and listen to others, the list goes on. all of these things are great lessons and important to learn at a young age, or else you’ll really turn out to be too selfish.

but let’s take a minute and talk about what it really means, according to a quick Google search:

  1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others;
  2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.

on the surface and at it’s core, yes — to be too selfish is a negative. to only care about oneself and acting or looking out for your own welfare or benefit.

but is it really so bad to look after yourself? let’s think about it.

an element of selfishness is something i feel that so many people are missing — caring too much about what other people think, putting other people’s problems and concerns above one’s own wellbeing, pushing your own feelings aside for fear of upsetting someone, putting too much into your relationships and leaving nothing left for yourself.

all of these bring to mind one expression:

you can’t draw water from an empty well. 

if you give everything you have — all your feelings, your effort, your emotions, your energy — to everyone else, what will be left over for you? beyond that, what else will there be to give?

i’m not saying it’s time to go out and tell everyone in your life to fuck off with their problems, that you have to put yourself first every time, that you should never put your own feelings aside for the sake of helping a friend or working on your relationship. but damn, leave something for yourself.

like everything else, it’s important to balance — but this may be the most important balancing act lesson to be learned. there’s a balance between letting yourself be a punching bag in all your relationships and developing self-centered, egoistic tendencies. but it’s critical you be selfish some of the time.

i really believe everyone is entitled to a certain amount of selfishness, because it’s important to take care of your mental health, your professional growth, your physical and emotional wellbeing, all of it. being able to sometimes say “i need more from you” or “i need my space” in your relationships not only saves things from bottling up and exploding later, but in my experience gives you a degree of self-assurance and self-worth –to stand up for yourself when you don’t want to be put in a certain situation, or feel like you’re being treated unfairly, or feel taken advantage of or for granted reminds you, however subtly, of your self worth.

and you are worth so much more than the awkwardness that may come from that conversation.

if people have issue with you standing up, speaking your truth, and maybe making the situation a little uncomfortable because you [god forbid] made a selfish comment, are they people you want in your life anyway? if my telling you how i feel about something creates a rift so big we can’t cross it, that speaks volumes of the relationship more than any selfish comment ever could.

take selfishness for a spin — but be warned, it may lead to self-assurance, less pressure to do things you don’t want to, feeling more free– the list goes on. damn, that’s selfish.

and there’s that pesky “s” word again — with different lighting and new makeup, that word looks awfully more like self-care, self-love, and self-confidence a lot of the time to me.


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