Recently I was accused of being selfish. Mind you, this accusation came from people who don’t even know me. They were judging me because, God forbid, I left a man who I was completely incompatible with, a relationship that was filled with tension and sadness.
I am not going to breathe life into those opinions because I stand behind the belief that no one should ever stay in a relationship that doesn’t fulfill them or make them happy. Honestly, I will admit, at first I was offended that people I don’t know could form opinions about me based off of very little facts. But then I realized, these are probably the words of the broken-hearted. Someone who has been on the opposite side of the same situation.
Unfortunately, with love and heartbreak, there will always be casualties. I do feel sorry for them and hope they find a way to heal. Then as I sat there a little longer, I asked myself, is being selfish really a bad thing?
Can you be selfish and still be a good person at the same time?
I spent eight years of my adult life living for the needs of others and sacrificing my happiness and goals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be the person my friends and family can count on. I love being a mother, and the needs of my spouse are important. Being that warm and comforting presence makes me feel good.
My heart is huge, but my heart can often be my biggest downfall. I spend so much time worrying about others, that I forget to take care of myself.
This is a common trait for many, especially for mothers.
One day, I was sitting in my office at home, an exhausted, emotional mess. I hadn’t showered in two days, I hadn’t eaten, and my to-do list was a mile long. I was running an in-home business that took up 75 percent of my day, all while trying to go to school and raise two children. I felt constant pressure from my upline to perform at the level they wanted me too, working to meet the goals and expectations of others, in order to make money for them.
I had taken on too many projects and had said “yes,” way too many times. That’s right, I had become the yes woman, for fear of letting someone down. Constantly worried I wasn’t providing the highest level of customer service, that I wasn’t being the perfect student, mother, wife, or friend.
It left me feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, that I wasn’t enough. Then it hit me, I was killing myself to keep others happy. I was literally destroying my body trying to be selfless.
When was the last time I had actually said “no” to someone?
You see the problem with being a yes woman, is that other people begin to expect it. Now, it’s okay being the one that people can count on, but that does not mean you need to stretch yourself completely thin to be that person. After a while, many people begin to take advantage of your kindness. They don’t mean to do it, but when you make yourself available to others all of the time, they don’t know any other way.
How are they supposed to know that you are taking on too much unless you say so? How are they supposed to respect your boundaries if you don’t set any?
I decided that I had to make a change, that “no” had to become a part of my regular vocabulary. I needed to stop making myself uncomfortable and miserable to protect the feelings of others, to spare them of any inconvenience. The reality is, I do not owe anyone a single thing! I am my number one priority!
I do not have to attend every school function to be a good mother. My kids do not need an organic, made from scratch meal every night. They will not die if they eat sandwiches two nights in a row.
I’m not a bad friend if I turn down the invite to your makeup party, or if I decide I don’t feel like going to lunch. Don’t worry, I still like you, but sometimes I want to sit on my couch in yoga pants all day and watch the “Harry Potter” marathon for the hundredth time. I do not love my husband any less because I would rather just sit and not talk for one night. I am not heartless because I can’t attend every charity event or donate to every single GoFundMe campaign. Let’s be real, I’m not crapping money. If I have it, I will absolutely help those in need, and I often do.
I’m not a bad person if I don’t answer every phone call or text back right away. Anyone who knows me well knows that I like my sleep. If you try to reach me before 10 am on the weekend, I probably won’t answer because that’s my time. I’m sorry if you have children who get up at five in the morning, but I have been blessed with children who like to sleep as much as I do. A tornado may have whisked you, your dog, and your entire house away, and I still might not answer. But, when I wake up, I’m coming to Oz with my magic wand, an army of munchkins, and a shoulder to cry on. I will be the best friend you’ve ever had and I will help you find your way home again.
I have started to carve out more me time. Prioritizing and putting my needs first has made me so much happier. Ultimately I cannot be a good mother, wife, friend, or anything really if I am not truly happy.
Sometimes it’s necessary to take the time to be completely selfish in order to come back and be the best version of ourselves, to be the person that our friends and loved ones need us to be. My alone time leaves me refreshed and a better person than I was before. So yes, I am totally selfish, but guess what? I’m totally OK with that!