The idea sounds outlandish. Why would anyone choose to purposefully act in a selfish manor? The notion goes against everything we were ever taught. Every moral. Every etiquette lesson from Grandma. “Share!” “Be respectful.” “Don’t talk to her like that.” We’ve grown to be mindful of those around us, especially individuals above us on the hierarchy: adults, teachers, older kids on the playground.
Easy concept? At one time it was. Our orders were to obey. With maturation, the feat of acting selflessly transfigured into a constant balancing act. Decisions of action that once seemed easy are rethought and overthought as our morality is internally questioned. Should I do what I want even if it might not be in the best interest of someone I care about?
This is the question I struggled with throughout my adolescence. The perpetual fear of letting someone down often prohibited me from acting with my best interest in the front seat. Nights reserved for studies turned into wild nights uptown, and work obligations were abandoned for such-and-such social activity. I couldn’t say no when my friends requested my company. Essentially, I was a pushover; the disposable friend, if you will. I was a woman possessed. By what? Fear of being “selfish.”
As one may imagine, this was no way to live a fulfilled life. Putting another’s happiness before one’s own is an admirable quality, but it’s a quality that cannot be upheld for eternity. It made me lose sight of my true aspirations and daily needs. My thoughts didn’t mesh with my actions, and it was only in the recent months that I recognized the gravity of my equilibrium’s imbalance. A change was long waited and well deserved, and I was going to make it.
I’ve since chosen to be selfish. I’ve chosen to put my needs first, with minimal regard for others’. My well-being, pleasure and advantage are number one. I am the pilot, navigating my way through the excess bullshit of life, plucking priorities out along the way. The focus has shifted to me, and I’ve experienced a remarkable change of scenery.
Friendships are more meaningful. Surrounding myself with people that treat me well has made me a better friend. I don’t put up with downers because I feel bad, or hold onto grudges against individuals unimportant to me. In this way, I know I can give my undivided attention to those that deserve it. I can say with confidence that those close to me desire my happiness.
I know what I want. Most importantly, what I want does not have to be what you want. This is my life, and I’m the one living it. I want to write, to live a life uniquely mine, to travel, to surround myself with positivity and laughter. I carry out daily tasks knowing they benefit me, and my time isn’t being wasted completing someone else’s agenda. Identifying my wants makes erasing the people and thoughts that go against my plan a guiltless act.
I am happy. The perspective I’ve gained from putting myself first makes the world a more beautiful place. I have a positive outlook on life and find joy in places I’ve never imagined. Waking up each day knowing I’m in control is a powerful feeling. I am mentally strong. I will do what I can to make others happy, but I won’t beat myself up if I can’t.
I am okay with being selfish.