Selfish, a word that has such a negative connotation in our society. Growing up we are told to stop being selfish, share with others, and put others first. Being selfish is wrong they say. We must always consider the feelings of others. Yet lately I’ve realized just how amazing it is to be selfish.
Just to start off I do believe it is possible to be too selfish. When you put yourself first so much so that it drives away those who truly care about you. When your choices lead you to be a poor friend, daughter, sister, mother, etc. So why be selfish at all?
To me being selfish means putting your needs, desires, hopes, and dreams before those of others. I am a self-identified people pleaser. For as long as I can remember I wanted to ensure that everyone around me was happy; even if that involved me doing something I didn’t necessarily want to do. I said the right things, put others before me, and didn’t think twice.
It wasn’t until college that my mindset shifted. I found myself choosing a major and pursuing a career that I didn’t love. I asked myself why I was doing it and I realized it was to please others. I had always been told that college was the path to take after high school. Then I would graduate, get a 9-5 job and work until I was 65. I chose majors that people told me I was good at. I thought about being a teacher because people told me I should, that I was good with kids. I thought about working for a non-profit because people said they could see me doing that.
Then I realized, that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I loved studying psychology, learning about behavior and the mind. I decided to make it my major and honestly couldn’t be happier. I was finally taking classes that I loved, that intrigued me and got me stoked about learning. Deciding to study what I was passionate about was the first time that I felt like I was being selfish. I didn’t care what other people thought or when they asked “what are you going to do with that?”. I was pursing a subject that I loved and I have never regretted it since.
By the time graduation rolled around I thought about what I wanted to do next. I thought about moving home, going on a service trip, getting a job…and then it hit me. I could literally go on a trip just for me, by myself, solely because I wanted to. And that is exactly what I did. I booked a ticket and left two days after graduation.
Upon returning I met up with a beautiful, wise, caring, and badass woman (who also happens to be my older cousin). As we caught up over tea she told me something that I will never forget. “Your twenties are the perfect time to be selfish. Quit a job if you don’t like it, try a million different things, travel the world, move cities, do whatever it is that you want. It’s okay to be selfish”. Now this cousin of mine is one of the most giving people I know and selfish would be the last word I would use to describe her. But when she said this to me it was like something clicked. Being selfish isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can mean pursing your passions, being adventurous, all while not giving a crap what other people think.
This past year I have been more “selfish” that ever before, not because I don’t value the opinions of others but because I’m taking time to invest in myself. I quit a job I hated, started this blog/website, trained for and completed my first half Ironman, got a new job, and recently enrolled in a six month program to become a holistic health coach. None of this would have been possible if I wasn’t being selfish. Investing in yourself and making your needs a priority shouldn’t be viewed in such a negative light.
I truly value the opinions of my friends and family but at the end of the day I want to live a life that is in alignment with who I truly am. When you are constantly trying to please others you live a life that they see fit. I don’t want to wake up one day when I’m 30 are wonder where the past ten years of my life went. Being selfish doesn’t have to be a bad thing. For me it means taking the time to invest in myself, my future, and this life. When we prioritize our soul’s deepest desires we are honoring our truth. To let others dictate how we live our lives is only doing us a disservice.
When we live in alignment we are better able to serve ourselves and others all while living the life of our dreams. So, what are you waiting for?