When I started high school eight years ago, people were often picked on. Seeing this had a major effect on the development of my personality: I became a very helpful person, because I did not want to see people in pain. I still am today. However, I think it is important to remind myself, and others, that sometimes you just need to be an egocentric bastard.
At that time, young as I was, I quickly learned that me being a person who gave more than she took did not mean others would do the same thing for me. It’s a mistake to assume that a person who you helped out before will return the favour when you are the one in need of help, and I made that mistake more than once. I still do, sometimes, and it always led to yet another disappointment. People whom you helped out will of course be grateful, but don’t be fooled: grateful as they may be for whatever you did, that does not mean that they would go through the same effort for you when necessary. It’s a tough lesson to learn for sure, but a lesson to be learnt nevertheless.
Because, you see, behaving altruistically is against human nature. Humankind has always been egocentric. It is the only way we could survive: we had to think of ourselves first. Even though survival may not seem like a key aspect to most of you, it still plays an important role in our psychology. Our way of thinking still boils down to what is best for us as an individual, and it’s important to remember that our brain would not work that way if it was not necessary still. I’m not saying that every time your brain tells you to act egocentrically you genuinely should, but you should at least step back and think about what’s best for you first.
On top of that, it is very easy to lose yourself if you spend all your time thinking of how to satisfy others. If you put every bit of energy you have in trying your hardest to make other people happy, what’s left for you? It is important you remember to take care of yourself first, even when that’s an extremely difficult decision to make – you should not forget yourself and your own well-being. When, for example, your friend is sad and it is dragging you down, don’t feel obligated to help them out. It is not your job to make people happy – it is your job to take care of yourself, of both your body and your mind. And once you did that, you can help out anyone you like.
I know what some of you might be thinking right now, because I often think the same way: “but making people happy makes me happy.” And I am sure it does. It makes you happy because you have helped someone out and made them feel better, and maybe even because it makes you feel like you made a small part of the world a better place, even if it’s only for a little while. But this feeling will not last, especially not if you are not taking care of yourself. You need to spend as much time on your own general feeling of happiness as you do on that of others. Please, remember that your well-being is not worth any less.
What I am trying to say with this post is that taking care of yourself is the key to taking care of others, because you cannot care for someone if you can’t even care for yourself. Sure, it might work for a little while, maybe even for a longer while, but eventually it will prove to be a system only made to collapse. So, in the end, we all just have to act like an egocentric bastard every now and again to make the world a better place.
- L. Parole