I’ve always aspired to be a kind and caring person (although I sometimes fail at this). So I was surprised when a guy I was dating called me selfish.
I’d just told him that I was leaving his country to go backpacking in India for two months. He didn’t want me to go, but I went anyway. I had my own dream (that didn’t include him) and I wanted to make it come true. I was prioritising myself over him. But does that make me selfish?
Since then, I’ve realised that society is constantly accusing women of being selfish. Girls are labelled as selfish if they:
- Travel – especially if they do it solo
- Don’t want babies
- Prioritise their career
- Prioritise their studies
- Don’t want a boyfriend/husband
- Do anything outside of their prescribed role as a hopeless romantic who dreams of nothing more than being a mother and wife.
When society calls dream-chasing girls ‘selfish’, they’re actually saying that girls aren’t supposed to have their own goals and desires. They’re saying that girls can’t aspire to anything higher than ‘settling down’ and basking in the success of our male partners.
But this doesn’t make it hurt any less when we’re accused of selfishness. When others label us as selfish, it brings our character and integrity into question. It says: ‘You’re not the good person that you think you are.’ They’re trying to make us feel guilty. They want us to rethink our non-conformist choices.
No one ever questions a man’s choice to chase his personal goals. No one ever calls a man’s character into question if he prioritises his career or travel. So fuck it.
Let’s be rebels.
Your life is your story, and you get to decide what happens next.
You don’t have to follow the same narrative that society has handed to you.
I like being the protagonist of my own story. Focusing on my own dreams and my own personal growth makes me happy. I don’t want a romantic partner or children to take centre stage in my life. Right now, I’m the star. If that makes me selfish, then that’s fine. I’m happy and proud to be selfish.
Selfishness has empowered me to:
- Get educated at university
- Move to the city
- Work and make my own money
I’m not sorry for chasing these goals, even though I might have disappointed a few potential boyfriends along the way.
More importantly, though, I wouldn’t be as effective in helping others if I hadn’t made these selfish choices.
Studying in the city has brought the opportunity to learn new skills and make new connections. This has empowered me to volunteer and to help others more effectively. Travelling has taught me about diversity and helped me to connect and communicate with people from culturally diverse backgrounds. Both myself and my community are better off because of the selfish choices I’ve made.
You’ve got to take care of yourself before you can help others. Invest in yourself first and become the best version of you that you can be. Then you’ll be able to offer your hand to those who you can help. Be selfish so that you can be selfless.
Have you ever been called selfish for your life choices?