How many times in a year do you feel guilty? Ten? Twenty? Maybe even more?
How many times have you felt like shit for not wanting to do something for someone, and how many times have you been made to feel like shit for not wanting to go to a party? How many times have you apologized for something you didn’t do?
How many times have you felt bad for saying ‘no’?
Growing up Christian, I’ve been taught to imitate Jesus Christ’s selflessness, to disregard my own comfort in sacrifice of my fellow human beings. The fixation on this virtue has gone so overboard we even see Facebook posts with silly captions such as, “If you don’t share and like this photo of a starving third-world-country child you are the world’s biggest self-centered dick who is not a true believer of God!”
Heck, even if I weren’t Christian, selflessness is something constantly glorified by our peers and endorsed by our media.
While, of course, it is still a great virtue to have I think most of us, especially girls, have been groomed to make others feel at easewhatever our own feelings of discomfort about it may be.
This is why it is important to be selfish.
Girls, when was the last time you felt a pit in your stomach for rejecting a guy’s advances? You don’t like him, you aren’t attracted to him, and thus the natural reaction would be a gentle letdown, right? So why do we feel as if rejecting someone, however logical and beneficial, makes us the biggest asshole in the universe? (I can not even begin to enumerate the number of occasions wherein a woman, fictional or not, was cast off or called a bitch for being “selfish” aka doing something for her self.)
Boys, when was the last time you had your shoulders in knots after purposely lying to get out of a party or a rendezvous because you needed to have some time alone?
Alone. What is the negative social stigma attached to ‘alone’?
When I prefer to play video games or read a book instead of party, there’s a negative connotation that. Geek. Loner. Has no life. Has no friends. Has no social skills.
When I want to go out in the city alone instead of with my friends, my decision is branded as weird.
God damn, it’s not my social responsibility to make you feel good about yourself. When people frown upon your preference to go solo instead of with a companion or group, it may likely be because of their taking ofense from it. It more has to do with “Why don’t you want to be with me?” as opposed to “Why do you want to be alone?”It has more to do with“How dare she act in a way that may offend me and trigger my self-value?” as opposed to “She’s an awful human being.”
It’s not onlyin micro-situations. When it comes to fictional characters, majority love the pure and the strong: Superman, Mulan, Thor. How many fictional characters have received spite for being anti-heroes, villains, selfish?
KatnissEverdeen: stop whining about Peeta and your sister, and think of saving the rest of world.
Harry Potter: stop being such an emo crybaby. Get over it and kill Voldemort already.
Godzilla and every monster ever: we fucked up your peaceful living and now you’re pissed, but we’ll blame you anyway.
What we don’t get is people don’t owe use anything. Harry Potter has feelings, too, guys! Teenage hormones at that. And Katniss was merely trying to make sure she and her loved ones survive, whereas Plutarch and President Coin were frankly only using her to further their cause.
Superheroes don’t need to save our sorry assess much as I don’t need to attend a social gathering to appease the host nor do I have to love my abusive mother. Speaking of which, I cannot stress how many times I’ve been told to love toxic people just because they’re friends or family. He drinks and lets you down? You should still respect him because he’s your dad. She emotionally and physically torments you? You should still love her because she’s your mother. He demands you take free overtime? You should do it because he’s your supervisor. She mostly hangs out with you when she and her boyfriend or other friends are in a fight? You should still take care of her because she’s your best friend.
How about no?
In a way, our perceptive distaste of others being selfish is really just us being selfish as well. Now, who is the bigger asshole? The person who wants to do something for his self, something that makes him happy? Or the people who feel slighted because that happiness does not include them?
I’m not saying you should go completely selfish or be villainous like Regina George or Professor Umbridge. I’m saying you should learn to love the word ‘alone’ and embrace it. I’m saying you should learn to say ‘no’ and ‘me’ without shame. I’m saying you should take what is yours without remorse, to cut off those who don’t treat you good with vicious finality.
Life’s too short to always dance the social game and I don’t intend to live it walking on eggshells.
So if you don’t feel like calling your mother, then don’t.
If you don’t want to reply to a Facebook message, you don’t have to.
If someone else fucks up, you don’t have to say sorry for it.
People will always find something to be offended about, and if that happens to be you then raise your coffee and drink their bitterness for breakfast.The challenge lies in finding the balance of giving a fuck and not giving a fuck. But remember a little selfishness isn’t necessarily a bad thing; otherwise we lose that innate sense of self.
Because who, at the end of the day, do you spend time with? Who goes home with you? Smiles with you? Cries with you? Picks you up from the shower floor? Pushes you to persevere at your lowest?
Who has made you survive until now? You. Ultimately, you take care of yourself. You have treated people with politeness and niceness all these years, and it is time to do it to your self. Propriety be damned.
Say no to that date, skip that party, and explore the city on your own or prop your feet up at home. You were not born to make other people’s lives comfortable or easy or to do as much as possible to avoid giving anyone ofense.
I once read this anonymous quote on Tumblr, “In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”
Or as Clementine Von Radics putsit,“You never need to apologize for how you chose to survive.”Similarly, you need not apologize for how you want to spend your weekend.
We must not permit our feelings to be guilt-tripped by people who are just as, if not more, selfish as us. You are allowed your own space and it is up to you who you let in, it is up to you how you choose to spend in it.You don’t need a thumbs-up to do so.
Love yourself. It’s the only thing you won’t regret loving. Divorce your heart from the duty of pleasing other people. Be selfish and be proud.
Do not live your life as an apology.
Sade Andria Zabala is a twenty-four year old Filipina surfer sometimes living in Denmark. She is the author of poetry books War Songs and Coffee and Cigarettes. Her work has appeared on places such as Literary Orphans, The Thought Catalog, The Rising Phoenix Review, Hooligan Magazine, Germ Magazine, and more. In her spare time she likes to eat words and drink sunlight.