This is why I choose to be selfish

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

My day begins at 9:00 AM in the morning with me doing nothing substantial post waking up. I am not one of those super-enthu-cutlets who jumps out of the bed and begins with the day with indefinite amounts of horse-power.

I like tossing in the bed for a couple of minutes after I have woken up.

I do that primarily to prepare myself for the work-day that lies ahead of me. Maybe also so that I can test my abilities to scale new heights of shamelessness – the kind of heights that only a person who chooses to laze around even when she is running late can reach.

I fold my blanket and put that in place along with the pillows. I think I do that because at some point I was convinced by an article that spoke about how making your bed first thing in the morning sets you up for increased productivity throughout the day. Not sure how much of that matters, but I do it anyway.

I then go to work, I’m back home by 11:00 PM and I spend the rest of my time mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and stuffing my face with chips and/or roasted peanuts till I start feeling sick. That has been my schedule for the last 4 years i.e. since I started working full-time. Not much has changed in all this time, really.

I’ve never wanted to be famous, or rich, or powerful; I’ve always wanted to be happy. I’ve wanted to feel genuine gratitude for everything that there is and isn’t in my life. How hard could that be?

Have I been able to achieve that? Yes, and no. But the answer also largely depends on how I define happiness, no? My definition of happy has evolved over the years – it has gone from ‘I want my parents to feel proud of me’ to ‘I want to feel proud of myself’. Sounds selfish? It is.

Selfishness has grown up with a bad reputation and I don’t understand why.

The one quality that is constantly expected out of all of us is selflessness – be it through the ever-so-obedient daughter-in-law from mediocre TV series, or the Bollywood protagonist who leaves his wealthy family to obey his father (high five to those who got the Sooryavansham reference!). They want us to give more than you can and expect nothing in return. Why, because that makes one a better person.

Well, fine, it sounds like a good philosophy but is it healthy to keep giving all of you all the time?

I’ve grown to believe that it’s essential for one to be selfish. The “good” kind of selfishness is quite an esoteric idea and I know that most of you, by now, are already starting to dislike me for saying what I just said. So I’m chugging a cup of adrak wali chai before I proceed.

Selfishness has bad connotations attached to it. There are two types of selfishness –

  1. The “I’m going to say that I’m not hungry but I’ll eat 4 bites each from everyone’s plates” type,
  2. The “I’ll have my dinner with everyone, but save my gulab jamun and have it when everyone has left” type

You don’t want to be no. 1, you want to be no. 2! (even no. 2 has bad connotations attached to it. Hehe.)

Pardon the analogies AND the sad toilet joke.

But the point that I’m trying to make is that being selfish should not be about benefiting yourself at the cost of someone else’s happiness. It is about maintaining the right balance between making others happy as well as your own self.

Choosing to stay indoors over meeting your friends on a weekend because you want to be by yourself is selfish.

Treating yourself with a cheat meal after a month of restricting yourself to “healthy food” is selfish.

Cutting off toxic people to protect your sanity is selfish.

Do these things sound wrong to you? No, right? So you see what I mean – we have been blessed with this beautiful gift, that is life.

We’ve only got so much time and it’s imperative that we make the most of it. You can’t be enjoying your life if you keep deprioritizing yourself.

I am 25, and I’m still not a millionaire! But in hindsight, I realize that ever since I started doing things that made me happy, I’ve truly been in a better headspace, even without the moolah!

Putting myself above everyone else has prevented me from living my life on autopilot. I do things that are not always expected of me, but I do them anyway because they are harmless and they make me happy. Imagine how boring our world would’ve been had all the great scientists, and philosophers, and artists, and writers, who walked this earth, wouldn’t have done what they once wanted to do with all their heart and soul!

I treat myself because I want to, I say yes because I want to, I say no because I want to, and I say goodbyes…well not because I (always) want to but because I know that some sights are prettier when viewed from a distance.

I think I’ve made my point. It’s time to make my bed now, and I will make it. Not “because I want to”, but because it gives mom one less reason to scold me. Being selfish doesn’t always work; sometimes you have to be wise (especially with mothers).

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4 thoughts on “This is why I choose to be selfish

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