The Silver Lining of Being Selfish
I’m a selfish human being.
I know this because some people have told me that. I am whatever they perceive me to be, and that is perfectly ok.
I’ve picked apart to the very core what it means to be selfish (of course, based off of my wild and random life experiences) because I get extremely fixated on things I don’t understand or desire. So I do everything in my power to understand whatever it is in its entirety.
There’s the Type 1 selfish that pertains to my *favorite* people on Earth - all those narcissistic, “my problems are bigger and more important than your problems” people who do whatever they want, whenever they want, without any hesitation or consideration of how whatever they’re about to do (or not do) will effect the people in their lives. Let’s be real, we’ve all been those people at one point or another. I’m just hoping you’re not that kind of asshole all the time.
Then there’s the Type 2 selfish, where someone is genuinely making a decision to protect things like their mental health, happiness, sense of being, and self worth. Their decisions that disappoint people aren’t malicious (99% of the time), but necessary in their lives at that exact moment. I want to be that person so fucking bad.
To get this out of the way, I don’t believe I am a good person. I do what I can when I can, and I would suffer for the people I love. I think that just makes me decent. A human being simply being at most. So anything I’m about to say is from as bias of a perspective as yours while you read this.
The best advice I have ever received came from (no surprise) my mom. She had been telling me this since my junior year of high school, but it wasn’t until I began removing myself from negative relationships that I learned the power behind her little sentence.
“Selfish.” I absolutely hated the word at the time. Not only did I associate that word with Type 1, I did not want to be perceived or misconstrued as that. When she first told me, I was in a relationship at the time with someone, and I had completely forgotten how to say “no.” I was blindly giving my heart and world to someone who couldn’t and wouldn’t risk giving me a sliver of theirs. I shrugged my shoulders though and brushed it off because I was in ~loooooove~ and a one-sided relationship was SO hot and desirable. I changed who I spent my time with, what I was interested in, and how I catered to him because I was afraid that I would lose him.
It only took me three and a half years, nine trips out of state, being cut off by friends, grudgingly moving to Colorado, hitting the lowest point in my life, and being asked what the hell I was doing by a girl I had met at one my internships to realize how negative the relationship was. The girl said, “You’re 19 years old. Be a little selfish.”
There it was - selfish popping up into my life again. I think this time I only listened because she was a completely unbiased party saying what my friends and family had been telling me for years.
Despite how much it hurt and how many hours I contemplated it, I acknowledged that I wasn’t happy or healthy in the relationship, so I removed myself.
Now, that’s obviously one end of the spectrum, but the other is little minuscule things. I'm in a really weird limbo right now where I’m still (kinda) in college (that one class once a week is killer), and I work full time at a job I love. I watch all of my friends have a freedom I had not that long ago, but I am so mentally ready to completely indulge myself in this new professional world.
Thursday nights are the night to go out in the area, and I’ve been told to come out and I feel guilty when I say it, but I always say no. I will happily go out Friday-Sunday, but I can’t risk messing up what I have going for me and lose sight of what I’ve worked hard for. Yeah, yeah it’s only one night a week, but I know myself and that one night would build up. So I don’t go out, and it makes me feel sad because I feel distant from the people I care about in those moments, and they express to me that it bums them out too. Luckily, my friends are absolute gifts that I do not deserve, and support my decisions and my aspirations. But again, I choose myself and what feels right for me at this moment in my life.
I’ve had other relationships with people where they have been shocked when I’ve gone against their wishes, been absolutely pissed at me for telling them “no,” and verbalizing how minuscule my situations that I was struggling with were.
Removing myself from relationships isn’t easy by any means, and I’m aware these people believe I’m Type 1 selfish. To them, I was. I still miss those people every day despite how things between us ended. I’m content knowing that I’m working on myself though, and they taught me a lot about myself, what I want out of life, and what qualities I will and won’t search for in future relationships.
It took me what felt like a very long time to figure out that when a relationship - platonic, romantic, distant, close - whatever feels exhausting, unequal, insulting, or just wrong, that it’s ok to walk away from it. I’ve met multiple versions of the same person, just with a different face. Maybe they’re equal to what I experienced, better, or worse, but I’ve been learning how to identify their tactics and ultimately choose myself more often.
I’m not afraid to tell someone exactly who I am or who I’m not, what I’ve felt throughout my short life, and why I choose myself and even more so kind of like myself as I used to. Negative people don’t want to hear about it though. Your problems and your desires will never compare to theirs, and they make that very clear. That being said, not every relationship is meant to last, and some people will come into your life, teach you something, and leave. You just kind of hope if someone does leave, it’s at least clean.
Most people who are told they are selfish are going against what the name-callers expected them to do.
So, I’m selfish.
But it’s taken me to places I never thought I’d go, introduced me to people I never thought I’d meet, and given me memories I never thought I’d have.
Silver lining, I guess.