Let’s talk about the importance of being selfish.

photo by: Rachael Ferris

 

We have been conditioned our whole lives how dirty of a word that “selfish” is.

Being selfish has always been frowned upon. If you choose selfishness over giving your energy to others, then you are a bad person. If you concern your needs above other people’s, you are a jerk. Selfish was a bad term. To seek things that make you happy just for the sake of you being happy, was something of shame rather than to be celebrated.

I am here to tell you that is complete bullshit.

This is something that I am so grateful that I figured out by the time I hit my thirties.  For most of my life, I felt like I was living on my tippy toes to please everyone. Which is all fine and dandy in balance? But there was no balance. It was them over me. Always.

I was working out to be thin to please others. 
I was dressing a certain way to fit into whatever crowd I was going to be around that night. 
I was shooting photographs in a way that I thought would be popular. 
I was giving up all of my art in efforts to socialize and make people like me. 
Dating as a way to see if I was lovable, even if I wasn’t even particularly into the guy. 
If a man I was dating wanted to see me, I felt like I had to drop everything to not hurt his feelings. 
I said “yes” to a lot out outings with friends that I really had no interest in and they were just guilting me. 
I didn’t protect my heart from destructive relationships because I wanted to help them. 

Does that sound familiar to any of you? I am sure it strikes a chord with someone out there.

At first, you don’t realize that this is going to have terrible effects on you. You think that all this good karma is just going to come back to you in waves.  You love making people feel good! You love being agreeable! You don’t need to do your daily moisturizer and reading at night! Because you know what your friends really want to talk to you about their boy troubles and you have to be there FOR EVERY FREAKING ONE.  Or you have no time for creating art anymore because you don’t want to get involved in something just in case your damn boyfriend calls.  Then one day you wake up and realize you are completely and utterly drained and even though you are doing these things for people…. you have nothing to show. Or those people don’t do the same things for you.  

Now you are bitter.

Now you are angry.

And you have dry skin.

When I got to this point I didn’t realize the cause. I was just angry. I started drinking heavily. Posting a ridiculous amount of selfies hoping to get SOMETHING back in my direction. Tell me I’m pretty and lovable, damn it. This feeling didn’t stop me from doing nice things for people and continuing to deplete myself. This just made me angry the second I did something kind. I would buy concert tickets for someone and be bitter before we showed up together that they didn’t even appreciate it. Anger filled up my being. How could I do so much for everyone else in my life but they just didn’t value me at all? Why are people so awful? Or why am I so awful? The thoughts gathered in my head.

There was so much anger in my heart it clouded everything. I accused people of terrible things. Threw insults at those I loved because I felt like they weren’t being as kind as I was to them. I assumed the worst.

I became controlling and terribly selfish.

It was a terrible life choice that I realized my self-hatred was consuming my soul. I was literally ruining my life because I didn’t give a crap about myself. I figured everyone in the world was terrible, or that I was unlovable. Either way, it made me angry. And this anger was fucking my life up in a way that I would need a novel to describe.  It involved a lot of alcohol, a lot of hissy fits, and lots of bruises.  While I now was aware of the mess that I was and wanted to be better, I had no way of stopping myself.

It’s one thing to say “ok I won’t act like that anymore”. But then it just sits there inside your heart still. You just covered up your fucked up cake with pretty icing.

This is when I learned that sometimes, just sometimes, I needed to be a little selfish.

At my rock bottom, I took a crazy leap and dedicated time every day to do something that will benefit no one else in the world but me.  Every day I started painting and drawing. Whatever came to mind that I wanted to create, I created. It doesn’t matter if it was a realistic oil painting or a ridiculous fan art of Jake the Dog. It was for me. I started reading again. Something that literally no one else can have any benefit from but myself.  Many of my books recommended journaling daily about my joys, which led to my daily journaling.

I put these times before my e-mails. Before answering phone calls from friends. I quit dating 100% because painting Catwoman seemed like a better use of my night. Something that included nothing but me.  Up to two hours a day, I would sometimes journal about my ideas and goals. Three hours a day playing guitar because it was just something I always wanted to do.

While I was still working on my business and keeping up with my friendships, there was actually time that didn’t revolve around them.

I noticed something changed. I stopped being so damn angry. 

There wasn’t really the need to control my social situations anymore. I started to appreciate my loved ones more. Thinking the best was my go-to rather than reacting to something I blew out of proportion. I could have a few drinks with friends and just get a buzz and not feel that drive to cover up the mess that was my soul. Mostly I started caring about people without the expectation of getting anything back.

I lost expectations because while I loved people, I didn’t need them to take care of me. I didn’t need them anymore to pamper me and make me feel like the most special girl in their whole world. That’s because I started to take care of me. I started to give a damn about the things that made me happy. I started saying NO if I was too tired. I started saying NO if I didn’t feel comfortable about a situation. I said NO to things that I knew would get in the way of my own plans. I worked on compromise more.  I stopped being so terrified of people’s intentions of using me. I stopped worrying if people were annoyed by me.

All of these things I was changing my behavior just because I was taking care of myself was growing my self-esteem.  I didn’t feel the need to post a ridiculous amount of selfies on the internet with no intention other than for someone to please for the love of God tell me that I am good enough. I started asking about people’s days more because I wasn’t being dragged down by the pressure to impress them with how awesome I am, which is what would take up most of my conversations.  I started giving my loved ones more space because I realized how great personal care time was. I started moisturizing nightly and using face masks. I started cooking delicious things for my body. Makeup didn’t seem as necessary because I literally started to think I was prettier.

All by being just a little bit selfish.

I loved myself more because I put energy into myself. Anything you put energy into, you value. When you value yourself more, you love yourself more. And loving yourself truly does change every aspect of your life. It changes the relationships with your family. Your friends. Your lovers. It changes how you take care of your body to live a happier, healthier life. It makes sex a lot better because you aren’t worried about every little damn thing when you should just be in the damn moment instead of thinking of your flaws.

 

It’s about balance.

Telling you that you should just become a selfish person isn’t my goal. But what I am trying to tell you is that you matter. That all the kindness that you are showing everyone else is such a great gift that you need to share with yourself as well. So that way when you decide who to give your energy to, it’s from a truly selfless place.  You deserve the love that you are giving to everyone else.

Trust me. Being selfish sometimes is how I became a better person for everyone that loves me.

 

Love yourselves and each other xo

 

Heather