Raise your hand if you thought this was going to be about seafood! Ha, got you. Come on, you know I don’t like seafood.
So, what does being selfish really mean?
It’s no secret that the word selfish has been coined a term that describes someone who practically does, says and feels whatever they want. They don’t tend to your needs so therefore they are selfish. They act foolishly without considering the feelings of others so what do we throw in their face? “You’re selfish,” we say. How about this one: you break someones heart and you yourself get called selfish. Ouch.
What I am trying to start off with here is that we throw the word selfish around as if it’s this unanimous term to describe any person doing what they feel is best for them. Now I am not trying to harp on the fact that we use this word because yes, some people do deserve to be called selfish. Throwing someone under the bus for your own personal gain: selfish. Doing something that makes you genuinely happy, maybe not so selfish. If the two afore-mentioned sentences go hand in hand, then we might have a different problem on our hands and you might want to deal with it on your own time. But regardless, should every action in gaining self satisfaction and genuine happiness fall under selfishness?
A few weeks ago I met a girl. She had just ended her lengthy relationship and was struggling with finding comfort in her decision. Her and her partner were together for quite some time before she realized that her heart just wasn’t in it. What was even more concerning for this girl was that although she had just broken someone’s heart, including her own, she was happier. To most people she may have seemed a little heartless. But haven’t we all been there? It’s never easy to look someone in the eye and confront a truth that scares the crap out of you. I remember us discussing this fact and elaborating on it some more. We asked ourselves, was it wrong that she felt so okay with the decision she made? Was it, I don’t know, selfish?
Soon after, I was confronted by another girl. She too struggled with the questions of selfishness. She had a lot going on her life and felt that she was heavily needed by those around her. She took on this intense amount of pressure from knowing that every move she made affected someone else. Someone extremely close to her was going through a trying time and she knew that that person needed her now more than ever. But what happened to her plans? She wanted to move out on her own and explore the world but she quickly felt trapped. She found herself asking those around her if she was a terrible person for thinking these selfish thoughts. Is it wrong that although she wanted to be there for someone in tandem she feared losing who she was or what she wanted to be in the meantime?
Over the past couple of months I have been repeating the same slogan, or mantra if you will: The only person that will be held responsible for the things you didn’t do, is you. You may end your days with someone holding your hand but long after your gone, the only person left with the decisions you made will be you. No one will take on the burden or regret of not making that trip to the dream country you wanted to go to. No one person can make up for the fact that you never lived the life that YOU wanted to live. So I guess the question here is, when is it acceptable to be selfish?
My observation is that if you do it right, you should be as selfish as often as you possibly can. I am not saying go cheat on your partner or damage others because you don’t hold yourself accountable for their feelings. What I am saying is that if you’re in a situation where you aren’t happy, change it. If you want to move, do it! No one wants to be 35 wishing they had done this or that. If you feel like you’re in a place where the only person you need to worry about is yourself, then do just that. You are your favorite person and you are the one person that knows who you truly are.
With that being said, I will leave you with a quote from Diane von Furstenberg‘s The Woman I Wanted to be.
“By being critical, you will find things you dislike as well as things you like, and the whole package is who you are. The whole package is what you must embrace and the whole package is what you have control of. It is you! Everything you think, do, like, becomes the person you are the whole thing weaves into a life, your life“.
Be selfish, eat shellfish, but don’t screw people over in the process.