Yep. You didn’t blink. You read it right. This post is in praise of selfishness.
There is a recent ‘rethink’ of what we as women hold as an ideal of womanhood. We are all socialized early on to believe that the perfect womanly ideal is the selfless do it all mother, lover, friend, nursemaid etc. Unfortunately, that track is fast road to burnout and has the tendency toward a real unhealthy imbalance of energy. That’s a fancy of way saying that you end up feeling done in, wiped, crappy, angry, depressed >insert favorite tragical adjective here<.
We see it everywhere today. Folks stuck in bad jobs, bad relationships, living lives they didn’t choose and it is a truly sad thing to witness and even more tragic to live it day in, day out. Add a bad economy, failing housing market, high rate of unemployment and oh yeah, a war and you got some pretty miserable people out there all driving SUV’s or standing urgently next to the bin of fresh tomatoes.
It’s even more tragic when that person is not using their talent and gifts to their full potential. All that talent gets buried under the ‘woulda-coulda-shoulda’ mantra. Not good. For me, I had seen this happen to friends and colleagues and as I was “trained” or rather ‘conditioned’ to be utterly selfless I would rush in and try to help. Well. Hmmm. Yes, well. I mean it makes good copy for my canonization review but it’s not necessarily true. A bit of the sly from my sneaky self esteem to deflect my own teensy issues in lieu of saving someone else. Don’t we all do this?
The truth takes a while to find and we each find it in our own time and it is simply that when you take care of yourself, you have the reserves to be generous and supportive to others. When we care for ourselves and try to live with courage, we magically find ourselves surrounded with the same sort of people. Indeed, the axiom, ‘water finds it’s own level’ is applicable here. I had this backwards for the longest time and it’s almost embarrassing that it went on so long. But I got it. And once you get it, you see, you learn to identify the truth in others behavior, you learn to gauge situations with more ease and grace.
So we all have this really fantastic chance to live the best life we can live. We owe it to ourselves to be kind to ourselves and this is where selfishness becomes self actualizing.