Go ahead, be selfish.
Put your needs ahead of others.
I don’t see why it’s such a bad thing. To be at your best you have to look after you. To learn, to grow, to create, to add value, you have to be sane, energetic and ultimately, healthy.
But if your health and your ability to contribute suffers because you’re so busy being helpful to others, then you have a problem. This sort of extreme generosity is just another subtle mechanism that helps you avoid your own problems. Immersing yourself in other’s lives and neglecting your own is a clever way of avoiding the responsibility to be your best self.
At the end of last year, I wrote myself a note. Something I want future me to consider whenever I have a big decision to make, whenever I feel pulled in multiple, conflicting directions.
The reason I wrote those words is simple. I have a tendency to apologize for being myself.
Here’s an example. You make a commitment to another person. Perhaps to start something with them, to do a job, take on a project. After several months, what started off as exciting and interesting becomes monotonous and you know there’s better, more valuable things you could be doing with your time. But announcing this strikes terror into you. You said you wanted to do it. You said you were enjoying it. But now, you’ve changed your mind. And you have to admit it. And what’s worse, you’re probably going to piss off the other person.
So when it comes time to broach the topic, you explain how you’re feeling, you justify your reasons, and then you apologize.
Why? Because you listened to yourself? Because you identified what was important to you and followed through on that realization?
Why do you feel worse breaking commitments to others than you do breaking commitments to yourself?
Why do you shudder to think of disappointing another but happily continue to disappoint yourself?
The resolution above to own whoever you are, to be unashamedly and unapologetically you, counters these nonsensical feelings.
You can call it selfish to follow your own intuitions and ambitions, you can call it arrogant. I don’t care. I call it brave.
You should be selfish. Not to benefit yourself, but to benefit others.
To give your best, it helps to be your best. And you are at your best when you are living the life that allows you to grow, to learn, to become whoever you most long to be.
You will never live that life if you constantly apologize for feeling how you feel, for doing what you want to do, for being who you are.
Remember these words:
“Do not deny yourself. Own who you are. Be unashamedly and unapologetically, you.”