It's OK To Put Yourself First, It's Not Being Selfish

To The Person Who Puts Everyone Else First, It's Not Selfish If You Prioritize Yourself

When you try to be a million different things to a million different people, you're going to lose yourself.

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Over the past year or so, I've developed a passion for astrology in the hopes of better understanding myself and others. In the process, I've learned a lot about my zodiac sign and how it influences my behavior. As an Aquarius, one of my defining characteristics is "humanitarian," and for a long time, I struggled to understand what that meant. I mean, sure, I'm a generous person, but I'm not feeding the hungry every weekend or building houses for the homeless or anything.

As time passed, however, and as I began developing a stronger sense of self and identity, the pieces started to come together. Humanitarians are driven by the needs of other humans. They see someone suffering, and they help. They see a problem, and they intrinsically assume responsibility for fixing it. No, I may not be a literal humanitarian, but if my compulsion to put everyone else's needs before my own is any indication, I have definitely grown to identify with my Aquarian traits.

The problem with all of my best qualities is that they do just as much harm as they do good. Because when you're like me and are fueled by empathy, you have no sense of self-preservation. You internalize other people's pain to try and ease their load. You give and give and give — whether you're asked to or not — because it's in your nature to heal what's broken, even if it isn't your responsibility. And in doing so, you completely lose yourself trying to be a million different things to a million different people. You can't be everything to everyone, and I am just now starting to realize that.

I know I can't continue to put everyone else first at the expense of my own happiness, but old habits die hard. After a lifetime of being ready to drop everything and give away all my emotional energy at any given moment, it's difficult to learn how to establish new boundaries. I can't help but feel guilty every time I turn someone down and can't be what they need me to be, but I know that there is only so much of myself that I can give. If I don't allow myself to recharge, I won't be of any use to anyone.

Prioritizing yourself doesn't make you a selfish person. You do it so that you have the capacity to be of better help to the ones you love and because you owe it to yourself to find inner peace and happiness. It's not worth it to go through life as a people-pleaser if doing so leaves you broken and exhausted. You deserve more than that, and once you begin to acknowledge your own self-worth, the guilt of putting yourself first starts to fade away.

The fact is, I'm not always going to be able to fix everything, and I'm learning to be OK with that. It isn't easy to let go of my need for control and my desire to make everything perfect all the time, but I know I'll be a happier person in the end for it. There's only so much I can do and give before I start to lose myself, and it's OK that I have those limits.

It's hard to strike a balance between being a humanitarian and putting myself first, but I'm trying. Some days I feel like I've gotten the hang of it until I find myself in a situation where I'm left running on empty because I've disregarded my own needs and feelings to prioritize those of everyone else. I know it's not always going to be easy, but I'm worth the work it takes to find happiness. The road is long, but at least I know that I'm on my way.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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I Don't Have To Wear Makeup To Be Beautiful

You don't have to, either.

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For about as long as modern makeup/cosmetics/skincare brands have been around, the notion that women have to use any of these cosmetic products to be considered "beautiful" has also been around.

(If you've read my earlier article about red lipstick giving me my confidence back, you would know that I absolutely adore certain skincare/makeup products.)

However, I personally don't believe that I need to wear any kind of makeup to be considered "beautiful." And you don't, either.

I think that we, as a society, have seriously overvalued aesthetic beauty and undervalued the beauty that comes from being a decent, honest, genuine, and kind person. I believe that while makeup has an incredible and transformation-giving effect on women, (and men too, just for the record), that none of us honestly should depend on x, y, and z products to make us feel that we are beautiful, or that our self worth and sense of self should be tied up in how many likes a selfie of us in a full face of makeup get.

And quite frankly, there is so much to love about our makeup free, naturally glowing skin that so many of us hide, simply because society would love to tell us that we're not beautiful, or pretty, or worth very much at all if we don't use [insert new trendy skincare product here].

Well, excuse my French, but I'm calling bull.

It's not okay for any of us to think of ourselves as less than, simply because we're not following those crazy and crappy societal trends. In a culture where "Instagram perfect" pictures are the ideal that every woman, or man, is expected to look up to, I'd say it's pretty revolutionary to dare to bare a fresh-faced look.

No one has to ever feel the need to compulsively put on makeup to be considered "beautiful."

Because, in all reality, makeup can't measure the kind of person you are.

Makeup/skincare products can't measure your kindness, your generosity, your bravery in the face of adversity, or any other kickass quality that you might have. Makeup can't do that; only what's inside of you, if brought out for the world to see, can do that. And yes, I'm well aware of how cliché and "junior high preachy" that sounds.

So, I hope this article will possibly spark some introspective thoughts on what beauty means to you. I hope you start to think about the fact that who you are as a person is not defined by how "attractive" or "beautiful" someone else might tell you you are.

You define who you are as a person, nobody else has that power.

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