I think the definition of selfishness needs a revamp to fit the contemporary landscape of the kind of balance we all strive for in our lives. Just like self love, selfishness is becoming a bit of a #buzzword. Selfishness carries a bunch of negative connotations and it’s usually flagged as one of life’s cardinal sins and is a massive turn off. Like most things though, selfishness possesses an interesting duality and humans possess the ability to either capture and defeat it, have sex with it or actually become it.
For the purpose of this article I’ve redefined selfishness as: Doing whatever the fuck you want, without hurting anybody.
How do we go about being selfish beyond sleeping in the middle of the bed or eating the last piece of coconut dark chocolate? Here’s some idea:
Never say yes to anything you don’t really want to do. Why? Because your time is invaluable and only you know how to use it wisely. If you don’t want to get blind every Saturday night and would prefer to stay at home and make banana bread with your Mum that is your prerogative. Do it.
Do things that you LOVE no matter how absurd they seem to other people. These things; cheese making, producing techno, antique collecting or gardening will truly fulfil you and make life seem worth living. THAT IS IMPORTANT.
Write down your goals and, and (most importantly) work solidly towards them. This doesn’t mean you can’t adapt your goals when you hit road blocks but don’t scribble down your dreams and then forget how to work out HOW to get there. Ambition is only cultivated and measured by action. In my head I’ve started 12 businesses, won an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize but with no plans and progress I’ll continue to disappoint myself every time I wake up and can’t find my fucking Oscar anywhere.
Don’t over commit to anything or anyone. If this means learning how to be assertive and saying no effectively then godspeed. It also may mean becoming acquainted with either a routine (oh lOrdy!) or a diary so you aware of your limitations. I used to make the mistake of replying to texts and making plans after I’d finished a gym session and the endorphin dump was just happily seeping into the crevices of my brain. Sure enough, when said Wednesday night came around I did NOT want to go to a pottery making class, ipso facto I disappointed the person I’d made plans with and then disappointed myself for disappointing them. Bad.
Be okay with the fact that you may only have a small group of friends or a handful of true friends. Commit to having people in your life that make you feel amazing, and in return put time and effort into nourishing this connection. If anyone brings you unnecessary drama, hurt or jeopardizes your morals, values or trust then strongly reconsider your friendship. Life throws many tests our way and good friends will stand by you through these, even when things get sticky, awkward, hard or ugly, or its 3am and you’re bawling your eyes out and need to be rescued from a gutter. URGENT.
Don’t be afraid to put boundaries in place. If you have a demanding job or juggle a job with chasing creative pursuits, your time and energy is extremely limited. Setting boundaries will ensure you can devote yourself to the right task with the right amount of attention and everyone will benefit from the fact that you are not spreading yourself too thin. It’s okay to be unavailable to people at certain times while you are in reckless pursuit of your passions. (See point #2).
Sleep in the middle of the bed and never apologise for it. Money spent on quality linen, travel and education is never a mistake.
Know what you want and don’t be afraid to stand by it. I don’t mean blatantly refusing to compromise but when it comes to the big things; family, home, career, friends, love – know what you want and don’t bend in a way that will not make you happy. E.g. Don’t have casual sex if what you really want is the white picket fence dream and 2.5 kids. Don’t work for a beauty company that tests on animals if you are a Vegan. Don’t stop going to family pizza night because your work wants you to do ridonkulous overtime. Don’t settle for friends that steal from your piggy bank if you really like having coins for coffee in the morning.
Make your space your own and take pride it in. It’s acceptable to be territorial about it too.‘Because it’s mine’ is a perfectly reasonable reason not to allow anyone to leave red wine stains on your desk or ridicule your pet llama.
Be polite, open, honest, courteous and kind. Always. This means that you can expect the same in return from others and always maintain a level state of integrity.
Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself isn’t just an obnoxious hashtag, it means that we should strive to be the best version of ourselves and then treat ourselves well for it. Appreciate effort and then reward it, even if that means rewarding yourself.
Learn to truly love yourself from the inside out – even your flaws, because there’s a silver lining to everything. In the same breath, understand that even ‘loving yourself’ is an elusive statement and constantly a work in progress, trust me you can’t google the answer to that shit. More on that later.
Yours in selfishness.