Often we’re told being selfish is bad. It’s disrespectful, shameful, and wrong. But we are all selfish. Every one of us. We act to serve ourselves. We eat what tastes good to us, befriend those who understand us, and do what brings happiness to us.
However, true selfishness takes courage. Being honest about who you are, what you want, and what you are willing to do to get it are important aspects of selfishness. Selfishness is about knowing yourself, getting in touch with yourself, and realizing that you are worth it.
You deserve a shot. You are good enough.
And that’s why being truly selfish can be scary. It’s about taking risk. The risk of stepping into the unknown, the risk of seeing something anew, the risk of trying something new. There’s also the risk of being different, the risk of standing out, the risk that people might not accept you. Many of us live according to the expectations of others, so much so that over time we forget who we really are. Being truly selfish is about understanding yourself, understanding others, and being able to distinguish between the two.
Society constantly tells us what we “should” want. We should want the latest phones, clothes, and cars. We should want fame, fortune, and power. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting any of these, the truth is many of us pursue these things not because we want them, but because we think that by having them others will like and accept us more. Unfortunate in a culture replete with such distractions, the line between “I” and “other” can get easily blurred. Thus, the quest for true selfishness not only takes diligence, but bravery in being able to separate what I want, versus what they want.
It’s only after you have given to yourself wholly and completely, that you can truly give to another person . You can only give as much as you have. To truly give selflessly, you must be coming from a solid, self-loving place. You have to love yourself, care for yourself, and be happy with who you are. To get there, you have to care enough about yourself to go for what you truly want, to get your needs met. You must be selfish. Otherwise, what you call “giving” is not so much giving as much as it might be more a way to get approval. When giving, the less their reaction affects you, the more selfless a place you are giving from. Therefore, you must first be truly selfish to be truly selfless.
So why do people sometimes accuse one another of being selfish, as if being selfish is bad? Well, it seems as though when we accuse others of being selfish, we really mean arrogant, conceited, or self-absorbed. Ironically, people who come off as arrogant, conceited, or self-absorbed actually have very low opinions of themselves, they have little self-worth. Contrary to popular belief, they are not selfish at all. They have not cared for themselves to get their core needs met. They compensate for their lack of self-worth by pretending to be something they are not, they are only presenting a facade to cover up how bad they feel inside. Conversely, people who are selfish do have self-worth, they do value themselves, and they do care for themselves in going for what is important to them. Selfish people are less likely to become arrogant, conceited, or self-absorbed because they are focused on getting their needs met in a meaningful way.
In addition, we tend to forget that when people make such vehement claims, they are really making a statement about themselves. They are unsettled, uncomfortable by the sight of a person being different. They probably feel threatened. Deep down, they are likely thinking, “By seeing you act in your own individual way, I’m feeling uneasy about myself. This difference in opinion, stance, point of view makes me feel insecure and unsure of myself. I’m afraid your position might have some validity that I have not considered. I’m afraid to entertain this thought because it may mean that I’m wrong or my understanding is incomplete. I’m too scared to admit this because it’s too overwhelming. Instead of seeing this for what it is, I’m going to focus my attention on you, blame you, and put you down. It’s so much easier to point at you than to look at my own vulnerability and fallibility, to admit I might be wrong or missing something.”
Being selfish means caring for yourself. It means loving yourself, and valuing yourself enough to be the person you want to be. Selfish people are aware, they are real, and they are honest. They muster up the courage to be who they want to be, and respect others for who they want to be.