How to be Selfish

About a week ago, I dropped my Italian class. I had struggled with the decision for most of the summer, but it just took getting into classes to realize that five classes was one too many… besides that, there’s just been a lot occupying my mind and time. It’s been a little draining, especially because I haven’t really felt like I had too much of an outlet to work through everything weighing me down. Trying to isolate what the “overwhelming factor” was made things harder, because it wasn’t just a five classes thing or relationship thing or family thing… it was the sum of everything combined and as much as I tried, I couldn’t balance it all anymore. Once I had the chance to step back and look at the complicated web wrapped around me, I realized something had to go… and unfortunately, that something turned out to be my Italian class. Choosing to let the class go initially felt like “giving up” or “admitting defeat,” but retrospectively it’s one of the smartest decisions I’ve made in a long time.

Choosing to drop Italian was one of the first times I really gave myself the chance to think about myself.

Slowly but surely, I’m learning the difference between self-care selfishness and self-indulgent selfishness. I’ve always assumed the two were synonymous, so I just kind of avoided the subject altogether as much as possible. Only now am I beginning to recognize the importance of being selfish– taking the time to take care of yourself and remembering that you’re someone just as much as anyone else. I’m good at forgetting that I’m a person, because I take for granted that I’ll just kind of work through things if I ignore them long enough and focus on something else. I’m not good at letting people take care of me, and that’s often led to me surrounding myself with people who don’t bother to try, even when I need it. I don’t let that many people close enough to see that vulnerable side of me and I treat myself like I’m completely self-sufficient because becoming vulnerable terrifies me. If I’m vulnerable, people might hurt me.

Trying to seal myself off from the hurt I’m so afraid of hasn’t done much to prevent or even to dull the pains in my life… if anything, it’s made them worse because I often assume I have to feel them all on my own. I finally reached my breaking point when it felt like even the few people I trust with the vulnerable parts of myself couldn’t hear me screaming above the other noises surrounding them. It forced me to be selfish and trust someone new to listen… it forced me to just trust someone, period. Feeling completely alone finally forced me to be heard. So I know you’re all wondering… Did the world end? Did time stop? Did I become any less of a person after actually talking and talking and talking and allowing myself be listened to? Well, we’re all still here, my watch is still working, and last I checked all the parts of me are still here and fully functional. The only thing that changed is that I no longer feel like I’m a walking time-bomb… and maybe I feel like it’s okay to be vulnerable every once in a while.

I’ve had some bad luck when it comes to relationships, friendships, and everything in between… but who hasn’t? The bad isn’t as important as what we choose to do with the bad, so it’s probably time to stop letting past pains scare me out of letting people get close to me. I’ve had plenty of good luck, too, and there are people in my life and still out there who will listen. People who want to listen because everyone’s human and everyone needs and ear (or two) every once in a while. I’m figuring out how to keep surrounding myself with people who will listen before my brain is screaming out for help, who will tell me to sit down and stop acting like I’m invincible long enough to be human and talk it out. People who’ll tell me it’s okay if I’ve realized two specialized degrees and one minor is enough for one person, and that feelings are okay too. I’m figuring out how to keep surrounding myself with people who treat me like I try to treat everyone else… and who remind me that being selfish and letting people in is totally and completely okay.

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