Home CommentaryOpinions Confessions of a 20 something #11

Confessions of a 20 something #11

by Audrey Folliot December 3, 2013
Confessions of a 20 something #11

Graphic Jenny Kwan

I’ll admit it, I sometimes put my own interests before those of other people.

I haven’t always been that way. If I look back to the beginning of last year, I used to rely a lot on what other people would think when making a decision for myself. Was it a lack of self-confidence? Was it a search for approval, or just an attempt to make others happy? It was probably a mix of all three, but I often disregarded my own wants and needs in order to please others. I can’t be the only one to have done this.

This kind of behaviour can be very detrimental to an individual’s personal development. Only caring about others is as unhealthy as only caring about yourself. Just like a lot of things in life, balance between the two is key.

Being altruistic is to have concern about the welfare of others, sometimes sacrificing for the benefit of others without seeking any personal gain. I believe I am a very altruistic person. However, is it really necessary to sacrifice one’s self-interests all the time in order to be altruistic? Is doing something for our own benefit such a bad thing when it brings no harm to others?

I do not think that caring about your own interests, wants, and  needs, when there is no aim to cause harm to anyone, makes you a selfish person. It only shows that you are a confident individual who knows where they are going in life, and does not feel the need to please everyone to feel good about themselves.

True altruism is a great thing, since putting other people’s needs before yours can bring a lot of happiness. However, if you constantly do so, you risk being taken advantage of and end up doing things you do not necessarily want to do, and you will not be happier.

I used to be afraid of opting out of group outings when I didn’t feel like going, because I was scared that my friends would not invite me anymore. So I would go even though I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it, mostly because I also used to hate spending time alone. Now, I even crave that alone time some days.

Being selfish simply means that you care for yourself and choose to do things that you enjoy. It is perfectly acceptable to say no to things you do not feel like doing. Nowhere does it say that, in order to be an altruistic and caring person, you have to say yes to everything. Saying no is the best way to regain control over your own life and to build stronger self-confidence. Next, you have to identify your own needs to ensure that your actions will benefit both you and those who you want to make happy.

As I said, balance is key, and the key to a happy life is to balance your altruistic tendencies with your more selfish ones. I really do enjoy spending time with other people. I love to put in extra efforts to make them happy, and I will not hesitate to forget about myself for a while for someone else’s well being. But if one does not care about oneself in the first place, who will?

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