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.
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’
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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.