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Mental Health

On Becoming Selfish, But Not in the Bad Way

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I would like to say I’ve never been a selfish person or even a self-absorbent person in that regard. I’ve always taken a lot of pride in being a nice, selfless person that has been more than willing to help others in their times of trouble. After all, I would want someone to do the same for me. 

I never went out of my way to say anything nice about myself or give myself credit for things that I had accomplished, even when I felt like I deserved the recognition. I came from a small part of the world that, especially in high school, radiated insecurity and uncertainty in one’s identity. Don’t get me wrong, I was one of these people. However, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a few close friends that were by my side through grade school — friends who I knew wouldn’t wish me success when I had it.

Jumping ahead to today, I am the busiest I have ever been. I’m currently maxed out on the number of credits I can take and working two jobs alongside that, and that’s not including all of my extracurriculars. On some days of the week, I spend 10 to 12 hours on campus, and I’m doing something the entire time. Most of the time, it’s homework, desperately trying every day to stay on top of my daily tasks. I found out how helpful it was to be ahead on work, especially if something comes up that could put you behind. For example, three weeks ago, I caught bronchitis and was out of commission for the entire week. That experience made me realize how important it was to stay on top of your work when you can.

Everything you do in life requires responsibility. It varies depending on the job assigned to you. That job may just be school, work or engagements outside of both of those. It also depends on the type of person you are and how serious you are taking those responsibilities. If you’re anything like me, you tend to put school and work at the top of your priorities. The rest, such as your physical and mental health, are lucky to get an honorary mention. I’m here to tell you that is not the way it’s supposed to be.

I had a nice conversation with a friend the other day about the difference between selfish and being selfish. There are selfish people who never take others into consideration and consistently make their life about them at the inconvenience of others. Then, there are also selfish people who acknowledge all the other people in their life and all of their responsibilities, but they still make themself the main focus. The latter is what I’m working towards.

In my eyes, by being this type of selfish, it shows you’re willing to uphold your value without letting the surrounding factors of your life diminish others. It’s about giving yourself credit for your incredible successes. It’s about realizing you’re hungry or thirsty and putting the right amount of food and water in your body. It’s about going to bed early when work still needs to be done because you know you have to be up early the next day. It’s about cutting yourself slack when you’ve been working nonstop and going to grab a milkshake and sit in your car doing absolutely nothing for 20 minutes. It’s about acknowledging those bad mental health days and giving yourself that extra bit of care you need to get through it.

I read something once about how your mental health days should be treated like sick days. On those days, you need that extra rest and that extra sip of water. I never took this as seriously as I should have. There were days I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep unless I got the work done that I had already told myself I would finish. I now realize that mindset was putting work over myself. Now, I remind myself that the work can wait and going to bed will make the next day much easier on me mentally and physically. But, the work still needs to get done. I avoid finishing my work last minute so that I could have free time, which rests easier on my soul.

My life is chaotic right now. I’ll admit it. My emotions are all over the place, and they hardly have time to see the light due to the suffocating amount of work I have. Nevertheless, I’m beyond grateful for all of these opportunities arising for me, and I’m confident in knowing this hard work is all going to be worth it. I just have to make sure that I’m taking care of myself through these difficult times. After all, I’m the one person I’m guaranteed to have with me forever, and in knowing that I matter in every aspect of my being, I can become my truest and happiest self.

Board that says “Self Care isn’t Selfish”
Madison Inouye
Gabby Taylor

Virginia Tech '22

I am a junior at Virginia Tech pursuing a degree in Communication Science with minors in Psychology and Sociology. While writing is one of my greatest passions, I also enjoy spending time with my friends, my cat, and living in my daydreams :) enjoy my stories!
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