The Secret to Life is Putting Yourself First

The Secret to Life is Putting Yourself First

Sounds selfish. But is it?

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Society puts unrealistic expectations on us to put everyone before ourselves. We see it everywhere... Donate money. Help a friend in need. The list goes on and on. I am not saying not to help other people - quite the opposite. I am saying that if you neglect to help yourself first, you are not any help to others. Let me explain...

There is a fun saying recited before a plane takes off. When demonstrating how to put on your air mask if something should happen to the plane, the flight attendant makes it clear that you have to put on your own mask first before helping others to put on their's. Otherwise you won't be able to breathe when you're trying to save everyone else, and consequently, won't be much help to those people.

Life is the same way. If you don't put your own happiness before trying to make everyone else happy, you will "run out of air" aka fail to make yourself happy. In a way, putting yourself first is much more altruistic because you are more suited to help others.

For most of my life, I was under the impression that I needed to put everyone before myself. This mentality turned me into a people-pleasing person who neglected my own happiness. I felt like I was a bad person if I wanted to do something for myself before helping someone else. After one too many times feeling resentful and taken advantage, I realized that many of my problems stemmed from not putting on my air mask first.

Your world changes when you put yourself first. I am happier, less resentful, and actually MORE giving. I am helping other people because I actually want to and not because I feel like it is what I am supposed to do. I have taken care of myself, and I am not giving more than I have to give. Further, I have already made myself happy, and I don't need to live vicariously through making others happy. I learned that if I didn't put myself first, no one else would.

This mentality taught me the key difference in being nice and being kind. I strive for being kind. Kindness is being a genuine, good person. Kindness is not just giving to others, it's giving to yourself as well. Niceness is kissing up to people and letting others walk all over you. It is caring about what others think about you. It is advertising your good deeds. It is doing things because you think others will think better of you. Being nice is not doing kind acts for the sake of being a good person. I was nice for most of my life. I now aim for kindness. I am focused on giving to others, but not at the expense of my own happiness. I am not focused on impressing everyone else.

Since I have changed my mentality, there have been times that I have felt guilty not being able to drop everything to help someone last minute. Maybe it would feel nice to completely change my day around every time someone suddenly needs me, but I need "me" too. There are still times that I change my day around to accommodate others (and gladly do it), but I have made it happen less often. I no longer feel like other people are taking advantage of me because I am only giving what I am actually capable of giving. What I am capable of giving to others is what I have left over after I have helped myself. Otherwise, who is there to help me?

I guess this mentality breeds not caring what others think as well. I learned that if I made myself happy, then I am excited to give back. I learned not to care if everything I do fails to please everyone. Focusing on pleasing everyone really does please anyone.

I am not saying to be a self-centered, horrible person, but if you are a little selfish, you will actually be much more altruistic and kind. You will be a better person.

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The Truth About Young Marriage

Different doesn't mean wrong.
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When I was a kid, I had an exact picture in my mind of what my life was going to look like. I was definitely not the kind of girl who would get married young, before the age of 25, at least.

And let me tell you, I was just as judgmental as that sentence sounds.

I could not wrap my head around people making life-long commitments before they even had an established life. It’s not my fault that I thought this way, because the majority opinion about young marriage in today’s society is not a supportive one. Over the years, it has become the norm to put off marriage until you have an education and an established career. Basically, this means you put off marriage until you learn how to be an adult, instead of using marriage as a foundation to launch into adulthood.

When young couples get married, people will assume that you are having a baby, and they will say that you’re throwing your life away — it’s inevitable.

It’s safe to say that my perspective changed once I signed my marriage certificate at the age of 18. Although marriage is not always easy and getting married at such a young age definitely sets you up for some extra challenges, there is something to be said about entering into marriage and adulthood at the same time.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

Getting married young does not mean giving up your dreams. It means having someone dream your dreams with you. When you get lost along the way, and your dreams and goals seem out of reach, it’s having someone there to point you in the right direction and show you the way back. Despite what people are going to tell you, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on all the experiences life has to offer. It simply means that you get to share all of these great adventures with the person you love most in the world.

And trust me, there is nothing better than that. It doesn’t mean that you are already grown up, it means that you have someone to grow with.

You have someone to stick with you through anything from college classes and changing bodies to negative bank account balances.

You have someone to sit on your used furniture with and talk about what you want to do and who you want to be someday.

Then, when someday comes, you get to look back on all of that and realize what a blessing it is to watch someone grow. Even after just one year of marriage, I look back and I am incredibly proud of my husband. I’m proud of the person he has become, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us.

“You can drive at 16, go to war at 18, drink at 21, and retire at 65. So who can say what age you have to be to find your one true love?" — One Tree Hill
Cover Image Credit: Sara Donnelli Photography

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To The High School Senior Wishing She Could Fast-Forward To Graduation, Careful What You Wish For

Don't wish this time away.

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As the last stretch of my freshman year of college stands before me, I've been thinking a lot about where I was a year ago today. I've thought about how fast the time has gone, but also how much has happened in that year.

A year ago, I decided what college I was going to and was getting ready to graduate, and honestly counting down the days until graduation. Senior year was almost over, and I couldn't wait to walk across that stage, get my diploma, and FINALLY get to start my real life. However, now that it's a year later I honestly barely remember all those little moments and it feels like literally a world ago when I was in my high school and making my Senior Board full of pictures of my childhood. And part of me wishes that I hadn't wished all that time away.

So, to my high school seniors out there — I encourage you to cherish all the memories you are making. I encourage you to spend time with your parents and savor the meals you have with them and enjoy the conversations where your mom asks all the mom questions about your day, and your dad tells a story from his childhood that you've heard a million times before. I encourage you to appreciate the friends you have, and whether or not you plan to stay friends with them after graduation, be grateful for the time with them in this season and the role that they played in your life.

I ask you to look around your high school, stop and stare at the walls that you've probably been praying to get out of for a few months now and appreciate the memories and times you've had in those buildings. Whether or not high school was a great time for you or a bad time, it was a time of growth and the place where you matured and made mistakes and succeeded.

Seniors, enjoy these last few months because before you know it you'll blink and it will be a year later and you'll be miss those days that you complained about, those teachers you rolled your eyes at, and those friends that you shared that time with.

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