I have come to the realization that I am, in fact, selfish. I am probably the most selfish person I know. I am selfish, egotistical narcissist who cares about themselves first and others second. And do you know what? I really like that about myself. I like being selfish.
I generally do not see selfishness as an inherently negative characteristic. I believe that we should be able to give back and put others as a priority. However, to say that we should put other peoples’ priorities before our own is not selflessness, and vice versa- putting ourselves first before anyone else I do not consider being selfish. I see selfishness more as an act of self-love, setting boundaries, and making sure you are the best version of yourself so you can be better for others.
The word selfish is always thrown around without much consideration. We like to tell people- mostly women- that they are selfish whenever they say no or try to set a personal boundary. I have been called selfish for a lot of reasons. I was called selfish when I refused to let a classmate copy my homework. I was selfish when I told an ex that I wouldn’t go over to their house at 3am because I had a final exam the next morning. Oh! And my personal favorite- I was called selfish for not coming into work on my ONLY day off in three weeks when they were short-staffed.
I have this theory that the word selfish in itself is always used when the describer is exuberating some kind of toxic behavior. People who use this word to describe someone negatively is always trying to bring that person down, make them feel guilty, or manipulate them in some way. Of course, there are appropriate times to use this word in a negative context, just like a lot of different characteristics. In my personal experience, I have only been described as selfish as a means to manipulate me or have someone push my boundaries.
I know I am not the normal definition of selfishness that we are all familiar with. I practice self-love and putting myself first. I have set personal boundaries that I would like everyone in my life to respect, and the best way for me to do that is to be a little selfish from time-to-time.
I have been practicing my “selfishness” for quite some time and I have found that there are some positive outcomes to it.
There is a lot of power in saying no.
The main reason I like to be described as selfish is that it gives me more power to say no to things I don’t want to do. We all have different things that we are comfortable doing and not so comfortable doing. There are times where we feel guilty about saying no, whether you don’t want to lend a friend a huge sum of money, or someone inviting you to an event where you won’t know anyone else there. When I embrace a selfish behavior, it gives me more confidence in saying no to things I do not want to do. Will the other person be upset? probably. But I am putting myself first and making sure that I am safe. No is a full sentence. If someone can’t respect that than they’re not worth any type of yes.
Selfishness helps you set and maintain your personal boundaries.
Personal boundaries are what keeps us protected and respected. I have had people in my life who had no respect for my boundaries nor treated me the way I would’ve liked to be treated. In the past I would just accept it and dismiss how I felt whenever a boundary was not respected. This made me feel disrespected, disvalued, and overall led me to some extremely uncomfortable situations that still haunt me to this day. When your selfish and think about your well-being above anything else you are putting mental health first
Putting yourself first is self-care not being self-absorbed.
Another “selfish” characteristic that people like to throw around is practicing traditional self-care activities. This includes, but not limited to, spa services such as facials, massages, constantly going to the hair salon, getting your nails done professionally, or even buying expensive meals and going to fancy restaurants or traveling. Even spending an hour on your makeup is considered self-absorbed. Women have been stigmatized for doing all of these things; all because society has warped any form of self-care as being selfish, attention-seeking, shallow, and/or self-centered. Taking care of yourself in a way that makes you feel happy is not a negative action.
I used to be the person who looked down on others, even other women, for doing things that I considered- for whatever reason- to be materialistic and shallow. I used to push myself to literal breaking points that had me crying in my car in a Walmart parking lot in the middle of the night because I was putting myself and my needs behind every single thing I had going on in my life. I wasn’t taking care of myself because I had this idea that putting myself first was a bad thing.
Selfishness helps you create standards for how you want to live your life and the quality of people in it.
When someone has standards, even the bare minimum ones, we see them as perfectionists, narcissistic, and probably a little “uppity” for lack of a better term. We say things like “you’re being unrealistic” or “you need to lower your standards” or “nothing is ever good enough for you” and so on and on and on… but let me ask you? What is so wrong with wanting the best for yourself. Yeah, to other people it might seem unrealistic. But whatever happed to “aim for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” mentality. Society wants us to reach past what is possible but whenever we try we are told its impossible and we need to aim lower.
Standards aren’t a bad thing. I know what I want out of life, out of the people I want in my life. I want a life of happiness, adventure, and achievement. I want the people around me to be accepting, honest, reliable, and push me to be a better person. I’m not going to accept anything less than that.
There is this stigmatization around the trait of selfishness, especially for women. We are taught all our lives to think about others before ourselves, to share and always be kind and generous, and to never be self-absorbed nor materialistic. As a woman I was taught that saying no was considered rude. I’m expected to smile even if I am upset or uncomfortable. I am expected to be nice and kind even with someone screaming in my face. I am expected to make myself small and give away pieces of myself to other people. As a woman I am expected to do all of these things and call it selflessness; but in reality, all this did was make me feel less-than and that I was slowly being chipped away.
When I say I’m a selfish person, what I mean is that I know how to make myself a priority and to take care of myself. If I don’t take care of and love myself first, I would not be able to do that for other people. Being selfish to me means being self-loving, independent, and prefer quality over quantity. Selfish may not be the best word; but it’s the word with the closest definition.
In a world where it is expected that we push ourselves aside, degrade, and demean our own self-worth, maybe being a little more ‘selfish’ is what we need.