Are you selfish enough?
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about selfishness. Being selfish is often viewed as a very negative thing. It’s not something people aspire to be. For me, I think I’ve taken it to the extreme, trying so hard to not be selfish that everyone else has gone over me on my priority list. Lately I’ve started making big decisions where I’ve put myself and my well-being first. So, I’ve been really selfish lately. Is that horrible and something to be ashamed about? Am I a bad person for being selfish? Oddly enough, I’m more balanced and happier than I’ve been for a while.
Being selfish in a healthy way doesn’t mean you can’t be helpful and have empathy towards other people. It doesn’t mean you can’t look at people in a caring way and be there for them and support them when they need it. In fact, when you’re selfish in the healthy way you have more to give to your loved ones, since you’re not burnt out by everyone else’s needs. If your whole life is about making sure everyone else’s needs are satisfied and you aim to please every person you meet, your own life will slowly slide into being last on your priority list. And yet that life of your’s is the one thing you are here to experience in this world. If you do decide to drop that off your priority list, you’re bound to start feeling miserable.
But how do you know what healthy selfishness is? I think it’s about recognizing your own needs and having the courage to prioritize them. It’s drawing boundaries and putting your own well-being first – even when other people disagree about it. Maybe this is the hardest part in this issue, because once other people question your choices, you start to wonder if you’re selfish in the wrong way. You start believing it’s not good to put yourself first and because of that you start to back off. Eventually you start doing it even in situations where you really should put yourself first to feel content and happy with your life.
I’ve pushed forward without a break for the past ten years building a career and stacking up building blocks for a dream about a certain type of future. Last year I suddenly woke up to the fact that in the middle of all that I had completely forgotten about myself. I was lost and had no idea who I’d grown up to be. I didn’t know what were things that I wanted from my life and which ones were things others expected from me. I wasn’t sure what were things that I liked and which ones I had just kind of gotten pulled into by other people.
I started noticing that there were quite a few things off in my life. What was my plan for action? I could have been selfless and just leave it how it was. I could have continued living life without changing anything, because other people seemed content with the situation. I could have decided that my needs and desires don’t matter.
I could have decided to do nothing, but something inside me had shifted for good. I just couldn’t leave my life how it was. I wanted to stop living my life for other people and start living it for me. After this realization began a small snowball effect that could be described as selfish. I started going through the different areas of my life and changing things I wasn’t happy with or that didn’t match my values. With every door I closed and every new one I opened my core was a little bit more visible. With each layer peeled of my unhappy life it was easier to breathe. For others the change was hard to understand. But I understood that sometimes living a life that looks like you just requires some conflicts.
Even though I’m not nearly done with going through my old life, I’m so excited about the life ahead of me. I feel like at the ripe age of thirty I’m finally finding what I want my life to look like. It’s still not crystal clear, but already so much brighter. I feel like every week greets me with new realizations about life and how I want to live it. Even though this past year has been such a crazy rollercoaster, in the long run being a bit selfish gives you the opportunity for a balanced, happy and fulfilled life. Living life becomes easy when you start doing it your own way.