Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Permission to be Selfish

I have decided that I am in a phase of my life where it is perfectly reasonable to be selfish. Not completely and 100% selfish, but selfish enough to put myself first in a majority of areas in my life. Let me explain.

Reason #1: I am single
While many of my friends are married or dating someone of significance I remain single and have been for quite some time. I could wallow in my singleness and wish for someone to come and pull me out of my misery but instead I chose to live life as a single, independent woman. Yes, someday I would like to settle down and be married and have a family, but the keyword there is someday. Once I get married it will be forever and that means that there will always be someone else in my life that I will need to consider the feelings of. It’s a huge responsibility to be married and I don’t intend on taking it lightly, so while I have the freedom to do what I want when I want, I’m going to do it gosh darn it!

Reason #2: I am responsible
When I refer to selfishness here I am not talking about completely disregarding everyone else in my life. I have friends and family that I care about and do not want to push out of my life and I have job responsibilities that I cannot shirk. Knowing what is important in life allows me to take care of those aspects and perhaps be a little more self-focused in other areas. I will make time to see my family and friends because I love them and I will do my job to the best of my ability because I take pride in my work, but I might choose not to answer the phone because I’m deeply engulfed in my book or (let’s face reality here) a movie or I might take a sick day because I need a mental health break. I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s not mean or hurtful. Calls will be returned and my work will get done, I just don’t have to drop everything to be on someone else’s terms.

Reason #3: I am my own provider
I support myself almost 100% completely. I will admit that my parents continue to help me out, specifically with my student loan payments and my phone bill, but other than that I am completely self-sufficient. It stands to reason then that how I spend my money is up to me. If I want to save it, spend it, invest it, throw it away, or give it away – that’s my prerogative. As long as I pay my bills (see reason #2, being responsible) on time I can do whatever I want with my money. It’s my choice and if there are any consequences I will take responsibility for them.

Reason #4: Everyone deserves time for themselves
I think it’s important for each of us to have times of self-discovery to learn who we really are and what is most important to us. If there is always someone or something you put before yourself you’ll never get to truly see who you are. I have friends who have suffocated in their relationships or in their school work or in their family because they have tried to carry the burden of what those other people or those other things expect of them. They have to be the perfect girlfriend/boyfriend, student, employee, daughter/son, friend, and so on but they never find out who they are until that thing that has defined them for so long leaves or disappears and then all of a sudden their faced with the question of who they really are! When I graduated from college I had to define myself as something other than a student and I made goals and plans for my future.

Reason #5: When else can I be?
I may have goals and plans for my future but there are things that I want in my life right now. I want to travel, enjoy life, and experience as much as I can while I can. There are always the “someday” things out there, but who says that they always have to be done someday? Why can’t they be done now? It’s only going to get harder to find the time and money to do things when I have a real career and a family. There is going to be less and less time for me as I grow older. I will become involved in causes that I care about and will take care of and invest time in the people I care about, but those things can be my “somedays” and my “somedays” can be my realities now. It’s the same attitude I had when I chose to live in the dorms for four years. A lot of people thought I was crazy and said they could never do that, but when in my life will I ever have the opportunity to live with 40 friends just around the corner? When will I ever have three meals prepared for me daily and I don’t even have to do the dishes? Why not expand that experience? I have the rest of my life to live in an apartment and cook my own meals – which I do now and do thoroughly enjoy.

I can be selfish now because it’s not unreasonable for me to be. My responsibilities are to myself and the world around me but as I grow older the number of people in my life will only increase. I don’t want to be married with children resenting the fact that I never had the opportunity to experience everything I wanted to. I know that life doesn’t end when you’re married or when you have kids, but there is a different level of responsibility that one has to take on and I want that – eventually, just not now.

So here’s what I say to all of my friends out there who feel guilty for putting themselves first and making themselves a priority. Don’t feel guilty. Do it and embrace it! Don’t forget your responsibilities and don’t be reckless, but enjoy every moment. Don’t let someone else determine what you will do and what will make you happy. Live YOUR life because it's yours to live and live it well without any regret.

1 comment:

andrea said...

I'm selfish too! But I don't have as good of reasons as you do. :( But yay for being your own person and making your own adult decisions!

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