I graduated a semester early from college thinking that I would use the time to better myself, to pull myself together after struggling with anxiety for the past few years. I figured this was the perfect time to do some soul searching, for some self-love and self-discovery. I figured I needed to learn how to be a little more selfish, to learn how to put myself first every now and then instead of constantly putting everyone else’s needs before mine. I thought that learning to be a little selfish, a little rash, would teach me more about my self-worth, something I desperately needed to learn.
You read all these articles online about saying ‘yes’ more, about how we need to stop saying no to things and step out of our comfort zone. And so, I thought saying yes meant saying yes without exception, without rules or guidelines, it meant just going out there and doing things I never would have done previously, in any regard, in any aspect. It was like letting a caged animal free but then getting overwhelmed with the freedom and new surroundings. But what was I really saying yes to? For what was I saying yes to? With what did I have in mind?
Looking back, perhaps I spent this semester doing what I sought out to do a little too well. I keep choosing my selfish needs of companionship over the love of my friends and the love that I deserve: love that is fulfilling and not ephemeral. I keep making decisions for my short term personal gain, despite knowing that I’ll have to deal with the long-term pain and repercussions. Maybe this was just a long and painful lesson where I learned that I am extremely selfish and insecure; that the little lesson I tried to teach myself wasn’t enough to give me what I needed.
Instead of learning and teaching myself about my own self-worth, I ended up not only choosing to be selfish, but also choosing to place my worth in the hands of others as I have always done. Clearly, the lesson was not learned. My worth became dependent on how others saw and treated me, defined by others, tied to their wills like a boat at a dock. I felt forever inadequate and lacking, and constantly needed others to bring me up. But just like my dependent on others is needed to raise me, they are also the first to cut me down because of my fragility, because of my insecurities.
Everyone talks about ‘saying yes’ and making these leaps and steps to find our own self-worth, but they fail to mention where we draw the line in these regards. Where is too much, where it becomes detrimental? Where is it too much that it leaves tear-stained pillows at night, wondering why you’re not enough for someone.
No one tells you that maybe you were enough, maybe you were too enough that they couldn’t handle you; so why put your worth in the hands of someone who doesn’t have the means to take you on?
I don’t know what the answer is when people struggle with self-worth. I don’t have a self-help book ready with 12 steps for you to take that will magically make things better. But maybe it’s just about trying to get there, trying to find your self-worth from within, with any means possible. Maybe the decisions you end up making along the way are selfish, but when you realize their faults, you learn to self-correct and not let yourself go so far past the line. You pull in the reigns a little and try to redefine the boundaries around this issue. Maybe all that matters is that you’re trying to find your self-worth within yourself; aside from other people.
Maybe all we can do is pray that one day we find it, that the struggles we face along the way, that selfish decisions, the rash mistakes that we make, are all lessons that we needed to learn to get back on the right track.
So, I won’t apologize for being selfish lately but, I apologize for not recognizing sooner that I needed to be selfish in separate ways. I needed to be selfish with my worth and keep it to myself, not letting others define my worth for me. I apologize for not redefining my boundaries when I first realized that my selfish decisions were a problem, for allowing myself to give into the egotistical thoughts for as long as I wanted. But maybe most of all, I apologize for choosing fleeting happiness over self-love.
So here’s the disclaimer that I missed at the very beginning: say yes to being selfish in regards to your self-worth, but don’t let it be the reason of heartache and pain in the long run. Choose future happiness, choose to make your decisions for the future you, even if it means sacrificing a little now.