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In The “Put Me First” TikTok Trend, Make Yourself The Priority

As a natural empath and shameless “people person,” I always jump at the opportunity to do nice things for others. Need a shoulder to cry on at 3 am? Call me. Need advice on how to prepare for a job interview? I got you. I firmly believe that the kinder we are to others and the more good vibes we give, the more we’ll gain in return. However, this certainly isn’t always the case, and I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes, you have to put yourself first. In the “Put Me First” TikTok trend, creators are making themselves their number one priority. From practicing self-care to claiming the best french fry in the McDonald’s bag, TikTokers are using a clever soundbite to show moments when they’re desperate to treat themselves.

According to TikTok, the hashtag #PutMeFirst already has over 31 million views and the trending audio has been used in over 26,000 videos on the app. The sound originates from a dramatic scene in season five of the award-winning TV show Empire, which features a star-studded cast and the iconic Taraji P. Henson as Cookie, the show’s female protagonist. Specifically, the audio comes from a moment in the season five finale when Cookie is speaking with Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard). In the clip, which was originally posted on TikTok by creator @citiboiisrt, Cookie says with dire urgency: “I gotta put me first. I gotta put me first, Lucious!” In @citiboiisrt’s video, the text overlay (and punchline) reads: “When your job ask why you calling out.” Now, TikTokers are taking Cookie’s dialogue from the season five finale and transforming it into a viral trend where they, too, highlight moments when they need to put themselves “first” — whether it’s treating themselves to a fancy iced coffee or going on a shopping spree, just because they can. 

If there is anything TikTokers have mastered, it’s finding creative ways to implement viral trends while flexing their humor in the process. In one version, TikToker @yoleendadong says, “When you want to post a group photo but you’re the only one who looks good” accompanied by Cookie saying, “I gotta put me first.” In another relatable example, @missmaisonet says, “when I hear my brother talking about taking a shower so I run to the bathroom before him cus I had already been thinking about it.” While grabbing the elevator, creator @honeyanttt quickly presses “close door” as someone is running to catch it in an attempt to “put himself first” (raise your hand if you’re ashamed to admit you’ve done the same). 

If you’ve ever felt the urgent need to put yourself first, whether at a chaotic family function or during a competitive game of UNO, the #PutMeFirst TikTok trend is for you. Let’s say your significant other wants to leave the house, but your candle isn’t done burning to the edges yet. You know what? Put yourself first, and make them wait (they’ll live). What if you just left the drive-thru and are halfway home before realizing you forgot to ask your sister if she wanted something? Eh, it’s okay. Just hide the evidence. I love this relatable version from creator @kindly_jordan who says, “when you make him stand on the same side of every pic so you look good” followed by a montage of classic couple pics and the caption: “grandkids will never know my right side.” Hey, like Cookie says, sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

To try the #PutMeFirst TikTok trend at home, think of a time when you 100%, without-a-doubt had to make yourself the main character. Whether your example is funny, sarcastic, or downright serious, be sure to bookmark the trending audio to use in the background of your video. Warm up your comedic chops, channel your inner Cookie for dramatic flair and record a selfie-style video depicting your unique scenario, whether it’s about fighting your bestie for an A+ thrift store find or impersonating a Kardashian. No matter what you choose, remember not to take yourself too seriously, and to never stop putting yourself first. It’s worth it, I promise.

Tianna was an Associate Editor at Her Campus Media HQ where she covers all things pop culture, entertainment, wellness, and TikTok trends. She graduated from North Carolina State University and received her masters from Columbia University. Tianna currently lives in New York City where you can find her sipping coffee, practicing yoga, and singing show tunes.