I am not a damn doormat: selfishness as virtue

Live for yourself — there’s no one else
More worth living for
Begging hands and bleeding hearts will
Only cry out for more
~”Anthem,” Rush

Someone once told me that “you can’t take care of someone else’s shit unless you’ve gotten your own taken care of.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s wise advice.

My mother once told me that her children were not her entire life. That may sound un-motherly in today’s world of “my children are my everything,” but it’s true. She has her life, we have ours. We’re grown-up now, and she’s not going to let us stop her from doing what she loves. We’re not going to let her stop us from doing what we love.

Altruism is great. Thinking about others’ needs and perceptions is laudable. But you have to also realize that YOU are your life, and that if you’re putting other people or other things before you constantly, you’re not going to last very long. Eventually you’ve got to say, “sorry if I seem like an asshole, but no.”

I’ve spent most of this year with someone else’s pet(s) in my apartment. Cats, dogs, lizards, my roommate’s ferrets. Frankly, I’m sick to death of it. Not only am I feeding them and caring for them, but they’re stressing out my own pets and upsetting the way my apartment runs. Every now and then is fine. But this has been a constant this year. After the cat I’m currently sitting goes home, that’s it. No more for a while. I will be an asshole. I will put my foot down and say “no more.” There is a point at which enough is enough. This is an apartment, not a boarding kennel.

But that’s not what we’re taught. We’re told to applaud people who give someone else everything they have. It’s considered virtuous and right to sacrifice everything you are for someone else. To run yourself into the ground for the sake of the company or some ideal or dream.

I say fuck that.

I WILL NOT let my bosses run me into the ground. I WILL have at least one day off a week. Don’t give me any shit. I don’t care if everyone thinks I should work seven days a week or that it’s considered acceptable to do so. I won’t do it. I refuse. I WILL have my me time and I WILL run some errands and cook some food and then play some video games and sleep and do nothing all day. I WILL NOT be miserable. I WILL take care of myself and I WILL put myself before everyone else. I have to live with me, and for me, after all. No one else is going to.

The hardest people to deal with are the ones who think everyone else has to be altruistic for their sake. They’ll take me time for them, but will deny it to everyone else. The ones that say “I really have no other option but to come to you and there’s nothing else I can do [which is never true] and it’s not that much of a bother why won’t you help me waaaaaaaaah!” They don’t understand that there is a line and that they have attempted to cross it.

I’ve spent too much of my life being a doormat. Letting people talk me into things, or doing things for others without putting myself first and foremost. I won’t do it anymore. I have my lines and they will not be crossed.

I cannot take care of you unless I have taken care of me first. It may seem like I’m being an asshole, but how can I devote the proper time and attention and attitude to something if I’m preoccupied or completely spent?

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2 Responses to “I am not a damn doormat: selfishness as virtue”

  1. Dargon Says:

    So I need someone to look after Ein….

    I kid, I kid. In all seriousness, there is quite a bit of truth to that quote at the beginning, not the Rush one, the one about getting one’s own shit together.

    It is at times difficult to tow that line between being kind and altruistic and allowing yourself to be trampled on. Unfortunately society likes to guilt you should you refuse to drop your last penny into the charity bucket.

    I’ve overburdened myself helping others, and I always feel guilty asking for help myself. I certainly hope I have not burdened you in that manner, as you’ve done quite a bit for me, and I am always quite appreciative, even if I may not show it all that well.

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