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12 Times When It Is Okay To Be ‘Selfish’ And Put Yourself First

“Even in the loneliest moments, I have been there for myself.” – Sanober Khan

Put yourself first. If you’re reading this article, chances are that you don’t. How do I know that? (I’m Edward Snowden’s long lost sister; Houdini, if he was a stalker) Because it’s true for all 7.4 billion of us. (I’m also mildly psychic.)

Suggested read: 23 simple ways to love yourself every single day

Before we even take our first breath, society is already standing on our throat, preaching how oxygen isn’t meant just for us; that we should share; that we aren’t worthy of monopolizing our resources, by which I mean ‘our lives’, because that’s pretty much society’s business. This article is for all of you who were asked not to not be selfish, because it’s a sin; because not pledging your life to the whims and fancies of others signals a horrible upbringing; because otherwise the neighborhood aunties would pretty much lose their only source of entertainment.

woman thinking_New_Love_Times

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Your life is your own, and it’s ridiculous that it takes an entire lifetime to claim it for ourselves. In Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, she has repeatedly spoken about how our time considers selflessness as the basic virtue. If your life is not for others, then it is a life wasted. Rand breaks it down for her readers. Selfless. Self-less. Without a self. These are people who look to their neighbors for any sort of validation; the kind who would pledge their first-born to you if you’d be friends; the kind who would agree to vote for Trump if you asked them to.

Being selfish, does not involve being cruel to others. It only means that you aren’t cruel to your own self. If you don’t stand up for yourself, nobody else will.

Here are 12 instances when it’s okay to be ‘selfish’:

1. Toxic relationships

woman shouting at man

Image source: Shutterstock

You were not brought into this world to serve as a doormat for other people, or a distraction, or a source of entertainment. There is Netflix and American politics to serve that purpose. I’ve witnessed innumerable friends who thought it was okay to be unhappy if it made somebody else happy. Excuse me? Is that what the Jews said about Hitler? “Straight up, shoot us in the chest, throw us off the balcony, choke us with all kinds of gas, if it makes your tiny moustache tickle! #FuhrerFuryIsBest” Oh, sorry, what? You only do it for people you love? Hold on. When Romeo died, did Juliet go, “He’s so stupid. *insert 475 tears*”? NO. SHE KILLED HERSELF. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT PEOPLE DO. No, not the dying part, but the reciprocity. Don’t tell me it’s “okay” for other people to step all over you, because your heart is not a doormat (and you thought I couldn’t do poetry).

Filter out the people in your life who bring the positive energy to a minimal. You deserve to be happy, and it isn’t selfish to want to live in peace.

2. Taking a break from work

This is for all the people who wish there were 100 hours in a day. Not because it would give them time to rest, but so it gives them the opportunity to finish their work. Truly, what is life about if not towering stacks of paperwork, insomnia, beating your head against the wall because maybe then you can get a medical leave, so forth. I’ve watched my father fall ill, time and again, because he always out-did himself. Look, you aren’t a machine, and unlike our existential crisis, your body does have a limit. The most recurrent justification is: “How is the office going to function? (if I take a break)” Well, I’m about to surprise you, then. Believe it or not, the office doesn’t run solely on your merit. How would you like it if your tombstone read: ‘Martyr to paperwork’? Especially, if you’re like me who thinks we live our whole life just so we can have a cool phrase on our tombstone. Work, is a part of your life, but it isn’t all of it. Taking a break is not selfish at all. It’s actually very necessary. So, the next time you chance upon that pamphlet for the exotic trip, don’t hesitate.

3. Marriage

couple just married_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Can somebody please explain the concept of a ‘marriageable age’ to me? What is this invisible counter ticking inside my body? What exactly happens once this clock starts ticking? Do I get magic powers? Can I finally use Spider webs to bring me that remote from across the room? I GOTS TO KNOW!

Don’t let anybody force you into taking rash life-decisions. Be very selfish when it comes to choices that affect you.

4. Following your passion

Yes, this is a clichéd phrase, and yes, it’s easier said than done. But take a second to imagine what the world would be like, if your favorite artists were forced to do something else altogether. If Chris Martin never decided to sing, who would ‘Fix You’? If Newton hadn’t firmly decided to while away time sitting under a tree, who would’ve made your exams 100% harder? If Beyoncé…you get my point. If you are not going to be what you were meant to, then who is?

5. Asking for help


Image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons Licence 

My mother happens to be a very timid, understanding woman. A little too understanding, really. Unless she falls frighteningly ill, she won’t say a word about it. The only time she’ll ask me to help her out is when she isn’t being able to move her hand. Like, mother, I scroll through Buzzfeed with the kind of dedication as if they pay me to laugh like a dying seal. That’s not called being busy. A lot of people don’t ask for help because they think they’re being a burden. NO. Put yourself first. Understand that this is a brotherhood. When you need help, reach out, I’m sure only too many people will gladly reach back for you.

Suggested read: 25 most inspiring quotes about loving yourself that will make you fall in love with yourself

6. When you want some alone time

If you can relate to this point, I am extremely happy you’re one of the few people who understand the worth of “me-time”. As adults, we spend all our time interacting with the outside world, whether face-to-face or through social media. There have been too many days when I wanted to throw my phone out of the window, but I could not, because: 1) I love my kidneys, and if I had to sell one to buy a new phone, my other kidney would totally break up with me, 2) Because if somebody wanted to get through to you, they wouldn’t be able to. Well, guess what? That’s kind of the point. It’s important that people understand you cannot attend to them all the time. Why? Because you have a life. It’s okay to be unavailable to others, because sometimes, you need to be exclusively available to yourself. (I am quote-worthy, yes)

7. When it’s goodbye

couple heartbreak_New_Love_Times

Image source: Dollarphotoclub

This point is for you if any of these things have happened to you when you asked to break-up: 1) You’ve found an unnamed ocean where their eyes used to be, and it drowned out your voice, 2) “I will kill myself if you leave” and you realized that a police case is more expensive than your freedom or sanity, 3) If you leave, I will *insert medieval forms of emotional torture*, 4) They are genuinely nice and you felt like a monster. The last one is by far the hardest of all. Know that you’ve done your best, and leave, because unless you are happy, it’s impossible that you can make somebody so. Hanging on to a dying relationship does not do anybody any good.

8. While dreaming

If my goal was a 9-5 desk job, I wouldn’t call it a dream, I’d call it “my relatives’ expectations”. (No, I’m not against 9-5 or 9-anything desk jobs, or floor jobs, or Steve Jobs, it’s just an example, please calm down.) “(Dreaming) is my birth right, and I shall have it” (Sorry, Tilak!). Dream so big, the universe shies for space. Don’t let anybody tell you they’re “unrealistic”, or “they won’t work out”, or…IF I WANT TO EAT 2837 TUBS OF ICE CREAM, I WILL, OKAY?

9. About protecting what you love

I mean books. (Just kidding. Or am I?) You are allowed to throw sharp objects at people who use books for an arm-rest, or as a food tray. You can also keep a broomstick handy for anyone who abuses a cause you love. And, god forbid, if that cause is your best friend, they won’t know what hit them. It’s not selfish to stand up for what you believe in, even if it involves defying the greater odds and societal opinions. And if that’s called being selfish, be it so.

10. Giving yourself treats

man thinking_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons Licence 

The worst thing about being an adult is you cannot splurge on “unnecessary items”, because the money is your own. It no longer comes from the magic land of your mother’s wallet. However, occasionally, you must celebrate being ‘you’. If you want to go out there and get your 17th Koala print jumper, YOU GO GET IT. Don’t let fictitious elements like the Savings Account fool you into doing otherwise.

11. Get your priorities straight

Life has an innate hierarchy. I don’t know if the egg came first, or the chicken, but I know I would sell your soul to Satan if you touched my books inappropriately. It’s all about priorities. If you’re on a call, and your best friend is waiting to speak to you, you hang up and take their call. Why? BECAUSE YOU ARE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING. This is so natural, it should even be here. Like, they teach you this stuff with your ABCs. (Yes, I went to a weird pre-school.) It’s okay to be selfish in loving your people.

Suggested read: 25 powerful tips on how to take care of yourself when you need it the most

12. When you don’t want to be helpful

man angry

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

I could feel my name being erased from Heaven’s ledger while I typed the subheading. Remember that friend who mysteriously appears at your doorstep every time they “need” money? Or that person whose phone calls begin with “Hey! It’s been so long. I miss you so much, I decided to call…” and end with “…bro, I need money, bro”? Unless you’ve revolutionized the plant-science (I failed Biology. Twice) to make it sprout money, you’re not obliged to pay.

From estranged friends who call you one day before their project deadlines, to the ones who only call so they can have a soliloquy (like, brother, are you even aware that a phone call is between two people), learn to say no. I cannot guarantee that it won’t send your soul to hell, but I can promise that it will be fun.

Like Rumi said, “You are the universe in ecstatic motion”, so never feel unworthy. It’s okay to put yourself first and be your own best friend.

“Hector’s mouth is going to drop open when he sees you.”
“I hope so. But I meant me. I’m beautiful to me.”

-Rae Carson, The Bitter Kingdom

Featured image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Article Name
12 Times When It's Okay To Be 'Selfish' And Put Yourself First
Being selfish, doesn't involve being cruel to others. It only means you aren’t cruel to yourself. Here are situations when it’s okay to put yourself first.
Meghalee Mitra

Meghalee Mitra

My introductions have always been "I'm too awkward for this." My exercise routine comprises oscillating between being serious and bat-shit-crazy, laziness, and hyper-activity. I love words, live for food, and am always looking for magic.