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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

In modern society, many people are deceived when it comes to the word selfishness. It can be easy to confuse being selfish with narcissism. There is a fine line when debating the difference between the two. One involves making a choice to benefit yourself in reclaiming your worthwhile, and the other could be mistakenly believing others are inferior to you. 

After about two decades of being a constant people pleaser as well as everyone’s favorite “Yes!” girl, it all slowly came to an end when I realized I needed to find a way to reclaim my life. Instead of following the stereotypical advice of following your heart, I found myself feeling like I was living my life for those around me and not… me. I was constantly doing favors for other people because I believed it would pave the way for friendships and relationships in general. 

Luckily, the first step that helped me reclaim myself was to never mislead being selfish with not caring about others. Being called selfish can rub most people the wrong way. The shame that is felt afterward should not be pushed aside. That is the impact of the stigma surrounding the word itself. When I searched “selfish definition” on Google, the first thing that caught my eye was “lacking consideration for others…” and I find that to be very ambiguous. Though it can carry the negative connotation, I prefer and encourage others to see it more as a starting point on a journey of finding self-worth. 

Four people holding each other in shades of purple
Photo by Vonecia Carswell from Unsplash

The first part might seem a bit obvious: do more of what you want (or what pleases you) and less of what you don’t. Although it sounds like an extremely transparent and straightforward thing to do, people would be shocked to know how many need to hear it. Following your gut instinct is a good way to start deciphering between acting on what you want and doing something to please someone else. Overthinking can lead to making choices that you do not genuinely want to make. 

Learning to say no to everyone is a life trait I think everyone should have. Though it seems harsh, take it from me. Saying yes to everything asked of you or offered to you is not always a good thing in the long run. Practicing how to say no and mean it is not something you can easily grasp overnight. You are holding back so much by saying yes to people that may take advantage of you or, worse, do not deserve your kindness. 

What some may not know is forgiving others can be a first step in learning how to accept your own mistakes. Holding yourself accountable for your mistakes can make it much easier to find forgiveness in others.

Never hesitate to ask for help. Some may perceive this as a sign of weakness, but the reality of it is you will never get help if you don’t ask for it. Practicing healthy selfishness is an important step in self-love. 

Original Illustration Designed in Canva for Her Campus Media

Victoria grew up in Northern Virginia and is a Junior at VCU this year. She is majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in Digital Journalism and dreams of pursuing a career involved in Fashion Editing. She loves traveling, listening to music 24/7, and learning about new cultures.
Mary McLean (née Moody) is an avid writer and is the former Editor in Chief of Her Campus at VCU. She wrote diligently for Her Campus at VCU for two years and was the Editor in Chief for three years. You can find her work here! She double majored in Political Science and History at Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated in 2022. She loves her son, Peter, and her cat Sully. You can find her looking at memes all night and chugging Monster in the morning with her husband!