I am finally understanding what it means to put yourself first. I always thought I was doing just that, but man was I wrong. I have always put other people’s happiness before my own. And whenever I thought I wasn’t doing that, what I was doing instead was making other people’s happiness my own.
Recently my life underwent some major changes and I faced a lot of emotional turmoil. Initially I didn’t handle it well. At all. And that’s putting it lightly. I had started to become non-functional without the things I was missing and my depression kicked into overdrive. I couldn’t find motivation to take part in any of the things that I normally enjoyed, and my job–something I feel very passionately about–seemed insignificant. That realization is what made me slam the breaks. I forced myself to snap out of it. I gave myself tough love like never before and pep talked the hell out of myself.
The internal dialogue went something like this:
-What the fuck are you doing?
-Nothing. I can’t do it. I don’t want to.
-What is wrong with you? Are you really about to throw everything that’s important to you out the window for something temporary?
-It doesn’t feel temporary this time though. I think a piece of my heart is missing. My life took a turn for the worse.
-Snap out of it. Shit happens. It sucks now. It might suck for a while. But you should know as well as anyone that you can hit rock bottom again and again and it always feels like the end, but it never is. It gets better and you get better. Better than you’ve ever been. So stop this. Stop playing the victim. You own up to your flaws, which is great, but you need to stop justifying other people’s flaws. You take them upon yourself to handle and they aren’t your problem. Other people are not your problem. Stop drowning under the weight of other people’s burdens.
And then it finally hit me. I’ve been doing that for years. Trying to help people to the extent where I cared more than they did. Blaming myself for other people’s shortcomings. Taking the fall for a failed friendship that took 2 to maintain. Picking myself apart for things that were out of my control. And fighting to keep people in my life even though the only person benefiting from it was them.
I feel like I’ve grown 4 years in the last 4 weeks, but I have finally reached a mindset where I don’t want new friends or partners unless they have something beneficial to contribute to my life. Now before you think I’m an opportunist or a selfish bitch, let me elaborate.
The only people I want to keep in my life are the ones who show me they care as much as they say they do. I want friends who will be the first to reach out to me the other half of the time, and who will call me out on my bullshit when I fall off the wagon. I want people who will make the effort to see what I’m saying and talk through an issue instead of ghosting me. I want people who give as much as they take. Because I don’t mind giving. I love it. I will help anyone and everyone in any way that I possibly can. But I can’t just give and never get. I don’t ask for anything but reciprocation and some consideration. Some real thought and action. The people who know me well know that I’m extremely flexible and will bend over backwards to see the other side. I’m understanding — almost to a fault — and I want nothing more than to make everyone around me happy. But I am finally, finally done making that my main purpose in life. I will not settle for making everyone happy without making myself happy as well. Doing things for other people without expecting anything in return does make me happy. But doing them and realizing that I’m being taken advantage of does not. It sounds so obvious, but I think if it really was common sense, more people would stop giving their loved ones the short end of the stick.
Lately I’ve had more time for myself (even if I spend most of my days at work or trying to catch up on sleep) and to spend with my family and friends. I caught up with people who I haven’t seen since before graduation, and I’m still working on seeing the people who I haven’t yet. This time has made me more mindful of the way I treat the ones I love and has pushed me to all of those realizations above. I am expecting better from the people in my life because I myself am learning to treat them better. I just want reciprocation. And with everyone, it starts with yourself.