Why It’s OK to be Selfish Sometimes

A tutor once asked me why I chose to study her Psychology unit. I was sitting in a room filled with 15 other University students, the same question posed to each of us. As the answers circulated, their responses were to the effect of: “Because I’m studying a Bachelor of Psychology degree” to “Because I needed extra points to fill up my degree.” But when the attention came to me, I knew what my answer would be, even before I said it.

Clearing my throat, I said:

“I chose to study Psychology, because I want to help others.”

My response exemplified the sort of person that I have always been.

Being selfless

I’ve always been a very selfless person. It has always been within my nature to put others first. I have talked a friend through their problems the night before an exam, rushed to see them after a night of finishing an assignment, and saved my friend’s life by sitting with him for 3 hours. Nothing makes me feel happier than knowing that I’ve helped someone.

But the problem with being selfless is, we focus too much on helping others, we sometimes lose sight of helping ourselves.

Being a ‘stay at home mother’

Photo Credit: arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For the past 5 years, I have been a stay at home mother who has always put her children first. I didn’t drink alcohol in 6 years, didn’t go out until my second daughter was 1 years old, and I didn’t buy many new clothes in order to save money. Although I felt proud to know that I loved my children that much, I realised something: I was so focused on the needs of my family, I neglected to think about my own needs as well.

The decision to put myself first

But 6 months ago, when I first realised my dream to be a writer, I started to feel like myself again. Not just the mother who does things for others, but does things for herself.

  • I started dressing up a little nicer, because for the first time in my life, I am proud of the way that I look.
  • I started going out more, because I trust that my children will be fine in the care of others.
  • I had my first drink in 6 years with my husband, to celebrate our 4th Wedding Anniversary.
  • I bought a new handbag and purse, because my old one was torn.
  • I started writing whatever I wanted on Facebook, because I realised my happiness is more important than worrying about what others think.

It is OK to be ‘selfish’

Being less ‘selfless’ does not necessarily mean we are being ‘selfish’. We are just putting ourselves first for once, and that is not a bad thing at all.

All of us deserve to take care of our own needs. All of us deserve a bit of time to ourselves. Each of us has their own personality, their own values, their own interests; we have a right to acknowledge that they exist.

When we give ourselves the opportunity to be ‘selfish’, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to be happier. And this happiness will benefit not only us, but others around us as well.

So don’t be afraid to think about yourself for once. Let yourself be ‘selfish’ sometimes.

Did this post help you? Or could you relate to it? Then I'd LOVE if you shared my writing!

Thuy Yau is a freelance writer and Youth Work graduate living in Perth, Australia. She loves to share personal stories about overcoming adversity, as she believes that human beings are more capable than they realise. She writes to make a positive difference in the world and to inspire others to learn from themselves and their own experiences. Her writing has been discussed on radio, won writing contests, appeared on The Huffington Post UK and major Australian sites such as news.com.au, SMH, Kidspot and Essential Kids. She volunteers her time as Newspaper Project Manager for Millennium Kids, a youth empowerment organisation.

2 Replies to “Why It’s OK to be Selfish Sometimes”

  1. Hi Thuy,
    I really enjoyed reading this post. I too am a stay at home mom of three, so really can relate to how you’ve felt the past 5 years. I’ve learned that when I take the time to take care of myself first as well as do the things I love, I’m better able to help my children because I’m a much happier person. As the saying goes, “Before you can help anyone else, you must first be able to help yourself”.

    1. Hi Chelle,

      I wholeheartedly agree with you. The happier we are within ourselves, the bigger a difference we can make in the world.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

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