From a very young age, I was raised to give everything I could of myself to others.
I was told to put others before myself, even if that meant sacrificing my own happiness. It's a lesson that many of us are raised to follow in our lives, but we often take it too far. We don't realize there's a difference between being kind and respectful to others and disregarding our own needs.
Sacrificing a bit of our time and energy turns into bending over back for people who would not do the same for us. We give to toxic people, people who make us worse versions of ourselves, and sometimes, we just give far too much without looking out for ourselves. I'm extremely guilty of it.
I've been hooked on the mentality of putting myself last since I could remember. This isn't anyone else's fault. Although I was raised to put others first, it was never my teachers' or parents' intentions that I ignore my own happiness. That's just how my conscience perceived the lesson, so I carried on feeling like I was less important than everyone else in my life. It was only last year I began to recognize that it had been since my childhood that I'd been truly, ridiculously happy. I realized that wasn't fair to me.
Even though it made me feel super heartless and guilty, I had to start chopping negative, pessimistic, and toxic people out of my life. Anyone who demanded far too much from me without any reciprocation was gone. Anyone who caused me anxiety or unnecessary stress was gone. That's not to say I didn't care about them or want them in my life, but I had to decide for once what was weighing me down and how I could bring myself back up.
I'm still not used to looking out for myself in that way, and I still struggle to keep myself accountable every day. Some are better than others. Here's the thing, though: The right people for you - the very best people for you - will only add positive vibes to your life. They'll understand if you need space and they'll give it without guilt-tripping you over it. The right people will always be there for you to come back to when you're ready. Those who make you feel bad for putting yourself first are just proving to you the negative impact they're having.
You can't give what you don't have enough of. We have to start loving ourselves so that we have enough in us to give to others. While making others happy is a beautiful thing, we all deserve to find our own happiness.
Cut the toxic friend off, eat the extra brownie, take a day to yourself to recharge.
You deserve it.