“Sometimes being selfish doesn’t mean you stop caring for others; it means you start caring for yourself.”
I was starving that morning. I’d been wanting so badly to eat rice only to find out that my rice container was empty. Surprise, I had nothing to cook.
My blood boiled. It was early Monday morning and I didn’t have a day off over the weekend. I was just about to start my day which I knew would be long. I had half of the day scheduled for my online work. Plus, I had a pile of articles to write. Rice and coffee would keep me going. For real.
I shoot a message to our group chat, asking why no one informed me about my empty container. It sounded lame to get pissed over an empty rice container, but my point was, should I be the only one dealing with this small thing in the tiny place we all live in? Don’t we all have common sense? Don’t we have some bucks to pay for at least a kilo of rice at the convenience store which is just an elevator away? There are five people in the group chat and two of them live with me. I didn’t know who. It felt like a stupid deed, so I thought to myself why would I make fuss out of it?
Then the concept of freedom and selfishness dawned on me. I needed to be alone at this phase, or simply put, to be selfish (Could I?) If I were living alone and something were lacking or missing, then I wouldn’t have to be bothered by the distress. On that account, I told them that they could start packing their stuff and leave. I frankly informed everybody that they could start moving out as early as we would agree upon. Prior to that anyway, they were aware that I was expecting a visitor from the US and I needed some privacy.
My bestfriend sent me a private message and said that I shouldn’t be harsh, especially to my sister since there were three more people included in the group chat. I didn’t reply, but I understood his sentiment and I knew he was only concerned about the impending dispute between me and my sister.
I knew that not everybody could put up with my soppiness. I think that when you’re fed up about being too kind and compassionate, you might somehow run to your last resort which is becoming self-centered. I thought it wasn’t a bad thing even if it meant booting people I care about out of my flat.
I didn’t mean to be mean to the people involved. Maybe, I just wanted to have my own time and privacy. It had been a while since I had it and I’d been pining for it. I’d always been surrounded by people. Perhaps, I was just being so frank about whatever I felt that even though it seemed crippled and offhand, and other people could not get the drift of it, I still expressed myself.
I suddenly remembered a good friend of mine, Lara, who also lives in an exclusive condominium building. She was surprised to know that my sister isn’t giving her share for the rent. I said it was all right. I get a higher salary than she does. She told me that once her younger sister stays with her, she will ask for payment. And another good friend of mine, Cai, advised me to ask my sister to give her share since we’re living at the same flat in one of the most expensive cities in the Philippines (the rent of course is no joke). I answered with the same response: It’s okay. We’re biologically related. I love my sister. I support her and I don’t mind.
But I realized they had a point. It made sense to me. It’s not about the money; it’s about the responsibility. Money is not an issue. Every human being should be responsible because at the end of the day, whatever circumstances may come our way, we have no one but ourselves to run to. So, at the earliest stage of maturity, we should learn to be responsible in every little way.
I know that my family, especially my mom, would question me for this decision. She’d probably go hysterical and worried. Mom is always kind and considerate. She always thinks that being nice to my sister is one precious gift I can give her. Yet I want to argue that I also need time for myself and be on my own, temporarily not thinking about other people. We’re adults now. I know that she will eventually understand me since I’ve been a really helpful and thoughtful sister ever since she started living with me three years back. I won’t mention all the things I’ve done for her, but for sure, she already glued those memories to her heart.
If being selfish means thinking of my own happiness, then let me be. What other ways could there be?
And then there’s my long distance ex-boyfriend. I sent him a message that morning. I was so pissed because of a stupid reason. Maybe, I needed someone to talk to that was why I sent him a message. That time, I felt that he was the only one I could run to whenever I was stressed out. He was the only one who genuinely understood my sentiments and he all ears. There was no judgment in the air. Yet I bid him adieu for good. My goodbye message was I told him I was deleting my Skype account and that I was beyond thankful for everything. He was already anticipating it. It’s such a shame though that maybe, the reason why I can’t move on is that, I depended on him for my happiness. I thought that he would be down if I lived my life without him. Then I figured that from the very start, he wanted me to live my life the way I wanted to. Living my life to the fullest means forgetting about him. How can I be happy if I won’t leave the past behind?
Being selfish doesn’t really mean you’re too self-absorbed. Rather, it means that you’ve finally decided to do things on your own even if it means letting go of the people that once mattered a lot to you. He may have not understand, but cutting my ties with him means I want to be free, I want to live my life now without being his shadow.
I take care of everybody. But I suddenly felt that no one’s taking care of me. I’m a natural caregiver. But I made up my mind. This time, I’ll focus on myself. Does that make sense? If it doesn’t, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is my own happiness.
Lastly, there’s this guy I’ve been chatting with online. I realized that he isn’t pleasant to talk to. I told him he was not really nice towards me.Yet, I’m giving myself the chance to get to know him (I’m not judgmental anyway). I haven’t met him yet but I’m always an optimistic person for whatever reason I don’t even understand. (I hope my instinct is right with this guy. But we’re not dating, just chatting.) There’s no harm in trying. He’s lucky.
So that day, I ran away. I packed my bag, went on hiatus on social media. (I thought maybe I was just looking for an excuse to escape from my online job). But, hell no. I thought I’ve had enough. I went on an unplanned trip and cleared my mind. I hated everything back then. I wanted to question myself for being too nice and giving towards people when in fact, I don’t get anything in return sometimes.
It always pays to be nice, don’t you think? But if being nice means you’re being too selfless, then detour and look for another way to make yourself happy.
It’s hard for me to be egocentric. I wasn’t born like that. I share whatever I have. My mom raised me with love and support. And I want to give it forward. I’m always giving and caring, probably the most thoughtful you’ll ever meet. The most selfless girl I should say. Yet at the end of the day, I figured being selfish won’t do any harm to my inner self. I’m just learning to love every piece of me and start caring for my own wants and needs. It’s like a process. I learned that I needed to go through the tough times first before finally reaching the point of reaching for my own happiness. Being selfish at times, like shoving off your life the people you care about the most, is not a bad thing (like ignoring my ex-boyfriend, or giving my sister a bum rush, or avoiding a toxic person).
I’m not going to stop caring for people, but I’m giving myself a priceless “me time.” I’m going to think about my own happiness for now. My mantra is “happiness attracts happiness.” I need to be happy without other people’s consent. If you can’t make yourself happy, then you can’t be happy in everything you do.
You can also do it to yourself. Loving yourself is one of the most precious gifts you can ever reward yourself. I’m glad that it’s never too late to reward myself with such.