I saw an advice quote posted on Instagram a few weeks ago and I knew there would be a post about it at some point. And I guess that point is today. Here’s the quote:
“If we worry too much about ourselves, we won’t have time for others.”
And here’s what I have to say about it… WHAT A LOAD OF BULL!!!! I don’t know who came up with this idea that we should worry less about ourselves and more about others, but I am NOT here for that. Not at all.
And here’s why.
If I go through my life choosing to worry about my peers and the strangers in Starbucks, when do I have time to worry about myself? And when I say “worry,” I don’t mean in the paranoid way where I think every headache is a fatal tumor. I mean “worry” as in “am I happy?” Because if I’m spending too much time worrying about everyone but myself, I can guarantee you I will not be happy. And that does no good for anybody.
I hate to turn this into a gender issue (I actually don’t) but we all know it is one, for the most part. We, as women, have a “job” to take care of others, to worry about others, to care for others more than we care about ourselves. I’m not saying this means we don’t care about others or worry about others, because we all do. I know I do. There are plenty of people I would drop everything for and run to help them if they needed it. BUT we can’t let everyone rule our lives in such a big way. That’s not healthy for us and it’s not healthy for them either. That kind of co-dependence is dangerous for all parties: the one doing the depending won’t know how to take care of themselves or to live for themselves and the one being depended on will waste their time focusing on the other person’s life more than their own. It’s a vicious cycle in which nobody ends up happy.
I read this quote to a guy I work with, let’s call him Mike. (No, that’s not his real name.) And his reaction was exactly what I thought it’d be: yes, love yourself but don’t be selfish while you’re doing it. You still have to love others and worry about others more than yourself.
And now we’re back to the whole gender issue. For a male, this problem is basically nonexistent. I don’t blame him for this response. But the defensiveness and the abrupt way he decided the conversation was over was what really got me thinking about this even more.
Women are supposed to take care of everybody. Husbands, boyfriends, children, bosses (coffee runs?), and in some cases even their parents. While we’re taking care of basically everyone but ourselves, we have jobs to keep up, homes to keep standing, kids to keep fed, bills to be paid… the list goes on and on and somewhere on that list falls our own well being and happiness. And I’m afraid that our spot on the list is pretty close to the bottom.
Our society tells us that we should be on the bottom.
And when we decide to put ourselves at the top, we’re suddenly a bitch or selfish or cold. But why? Nobody even blinks twice when a man does the same thing.
I’m not even 2o years old yet and already I’m being asked about marriage and kids… EXCUSE ME WHAT?!? It’s expected that I would want to take care of a family as soon as I’m out of high school. I’m sorry, no. I don’t want to and don’t ask me that. I’m too busy loving myself right now, thanks. Honestly, what else am I supposed to say? I’m sure there are people who now classify me as a career hungry, overly ambitions, ice queen but that’s okay. I don’t really care what they think. And neither should you.
Here’s how it goes:
You have to come first. Why? Because until you’re happy, until you truly love who you are and the life you have built for yourself, you won’t be able to fully commit to someone else. Part of you will always wonder if you could’ve done more, gotten further, moved away from home… some part of you will always be repeating “what if?”
Loving yourself means treating your body with the respect it deserves. Right now, I’m talking about your physical health. I know too many women and have heard too many stories of women too busy worrying about everyone else that they let their own health slip through the cracks. How are we supposed to worry and take care of others if we aren’t here to do it in the first place? Love yourself enough to know your limits!
Loving yourself means treating your mental health like the fragile flower that it is. And I mean this for everybody. Treating your mental health is just as important as anything physical. If you’re not happy, it will show in everything that you do. If you’re always stressed about other people, get away from them! Treat yo’self. Go on a spa retreat for a weekend, you deserve it.
Loving yourself means learning how to love yourself and others at the same time, without neglecting either. It’s a balance and you CANNOT push yourself off the scale. Be selfish long enough to be truly happy with your life and your career, get to where you want to be, whether that’s with a family or not, just get there. Some women thrive on caring for others and that is great! But not all of us are wired that way. If you have to be a little bit selfish, be a little selfish. You know what’s best for you more than anyone else does, so do it. You’ll notice that as your happiness becomes more important, as loving yourself becomes more important, loving others comes with it. We all have enough love to go around.
So, no. Don’t tell me to worry about myself less and others more. I won’t do it and you shouldn’t either. Find your happiness, love yourself, and the rest will come.
(Have you ever been given horrible advice or seen a horrible quote? Leave your stories in the comments!)