Okay, I'll admit it. I'm not good at this. Like many of us, I put myself down. I neglect my own issues in favor of my friends, my family, even my job. And too often, this is how we're expected to behave. But the truth is, sometimes, we deserve to put ourselves first for a change. We deserve to be selfish. Here's why.
1. You are a priority.
You are the most important person in your life. You are the only one who's guaranteed to be with you through all of the ups and downs, victories and disasters, right up until the very end. So why do we treat ourselves like we don't matter?
Too often, we go out of our way to put everyone and everything else before our own needs. And in doing so, we transform our own plans and aspirations into little more than afterthoughts. Every once in a while, we need to take an opportunity for ourselves. Otherwise, we'll trap ourselves into stagnancy.
2. Your problems are important.
Especially in today's age of social media, where just a quick scroll through Facebook is enough to give you insight into everyone else's lives, it is tempting to compare your problems with the issues others are facing. It is even more tempting to fall into the trap of perceiving your problems as somehow less severe, less pressing, less significant. And that just isn't true.
Everyone has things that they struggle with, but that doesn't mean you should neglect your own issues in favor of fixing someone else's. Helping others is incredibly important, of course, but not when it costs you your own sanity. Everyone has limits on how much stress they can handle. Sometimes, you have to put yourself first, and decide that it's your turn to be helped.
3. You don't have to be perfect.
Too often, we hold ourselves to impossible standards. We have to get good grades. We have to have perfect attendance at work. We have to give 110 percent, 100 percent of the time. And yet, it's perfectly understandable if our friend has to skip class because they're having a rough day. We can excuse others for their shortcomings, but we can't forgive ourselves. This just isn't realistic, and it isn't fair.
We have to stop abiding by the rigorous expectations we impose on ourselves. We're only human, after all and we deserve to be a little more lax. Go ahead, call off work for once, if you're not feeling up to it. Have that double dark chocolate muffin for breakfast, in spite of your diet. Splurge. No one will think less of you for it, and sometimes these little moments can make all the difference.
4. You are in control of your own life.
I've heard too many stories of people forced into situations that they do not want for themselves. It is the Chemistry major with a passion for art, whose parents refused to pay for school unless she chose a "more marketable" major. It's the football player forced to join the team because his dad was a quarterback back in the day.
No one else has to live with your choices, or deal with the consequences of your decisions. Your life is yours, and no one can take that from you. If you want something, go after it. If you have a dream, chase it. Even if it doesn't pan out, the regret of not trying is far worse than the risk of failing.
Admittedly, this is easier said than done. But sometimes you have to disappoint people in order to do what is best for you. The important people in your life will understand, even if it takes them a while to come around. You should never sacrifice your own happiness just because of what someone else might think.
I'm certainly not advocating for you to disregard all of your responsibilities, or to completely give in to narcissism. There is something absolutely wonderful about sacrificing some of yourself for others, but not when it comes at a severe detriment to your own needs and mental health. It's all about balance.
You're important. You're loved. You matter. Maybe it's time to start acting like it.