I would venture to guess that the vast majority of us have been on an airplane at some point in our lives and have heard something along the lines of “blah, blah, blah, cabin pressure drops, blah blah blah, oxygen masks will drop down, blah blah, be sure to secure your own mask first before assisting others.”
(A quick aside: nothing in life scares me more than finding myself on a less-than-fully-functional aircraft. In the event of such a crisis, I’ll be the one passed TF out on the floor in front of my seat. But I digress.).
Over coffee with close friends recently, conversation quickly turned to the blazing uncertainty with which we are all hurdling through our twenties. In the midst of our lamenting over spouses, shitty ex-boyfriends, sibling drama, and parents that (mostly) did the best they could, it occurred to me that the people that we show the least concern for are ourselves. Some of us are the oldest of our siblings. Some of us come from broken families that require us to assume more responsibility than we can or want to handle. Some of us say “yes” waaaay more often than we should. In some way or another, we find ourselves in situations where the needs of another are placed above our own.
Now, let’s be clear: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a support (in whatever form that takes) for family or friends.
There is something truly noble and good about wanting to help someone else. The problem arises when we become complacent in ignoring our own wants, needs, and desires. When we become okay with not being okay because we’ve devoted too many of our energies elsewhere.
I always love the start of a new year because it’s almost like the universe gives us a free pass to wipe the slate clean. I’m notorious for making safe New Year’s resolutions – safe, because they rarely challenge me to dig any deeper than “I want to start working out more and eating better” (I’ve had pizza for three days in a row now, so that’s already shot to hell).
This year, the word that I’m writing at the top of my clean slate is selfish.
Not malice-driven selfish, but selfish such that self-preservation is a top priority. No matter how much I may want to do for others, it means nothing if I don’t take care of myself first. I can’t encourage my siblings to chase their dreams if I don’t chase mine first. I can’t tell my friends to do what makes them happy if I’m not doing the same. If the cabin pressure drops and the plane is in distress, I can’t help my neighbor if I can’t breathe myself. You feel me?!
In 2016, let’s make some time for ourselves. Go to dinner alone. Take care of your body. Get a therapist. Say “no” sometimes and don’t feel bad about it. Discover your passions. Learn to find contentment in yourself before you seek to find it (or create it) in someone else. Get more sleep. Surround yourself with positive people. Allow people to carry their own emotional baggage – you have enough of your own to deal with. Take a risk and forgive yourself if it doesn’t always pay off the way you’d like. It is by presenting our best selves to the world that we can make the greatest impact on those around us. Go. Do. Live. And for God’ sake, don’t forget to fasten your seatbelt – it’s going to be quite the ride.