Why It’s Okay to Put Yourself First

Being selfish is sometimes being selfless.

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I often feel the need to do everything I can for other people. If someone asks me to look over their essay before they turn it in, I will do it the second the ask. When someone says that they need someone to talk to, I’m the first to call. If I have a much-needed lazy day planned and someone asks me to do something, I will neglect my own needs to hang out with them.

This is mainly because I am an empathetic person. I try my hardest to be there for others and not only listen but understand their needs. This often means talking about what is stressing my friends out, even when I have my own issues that I need to sort through. It means staying up late just to talk to someone, even though I know I need the sleep. It means ignoring what my body tells me I need because my brain tells me what I want.

So today let me say this — and this is as much for myself as it is for you — it’s okay to put yourself first. It’s okay to turn off your phone for a night and go to sleep. It’s okay to tell a friend that you can’t focus on their problems because you need to talk about your own. It’s okay to tell your science partner that you can’t look over their homework. Why is this okay? Read the list below to find out.

Boy dressed as a superhero with his hand in the air

1. You are your own hero

At the end of the day, you are the only person who is looking out for your best interests. By nature, humans are selfish. It’s okay to sometimes be selfish when it comes to yourself. My mom always used to tell me, “you’re the only person that can make yourself happy” and this is completely true. If you’re relying on other people as your source of confidence or happiness, then you need to take a step back. It’s okay to put yourself first because you’re the only person that will.

Woman sitting in a chair looking out of the window

2. Taking time for you does not mean you’re neglecting other’s feelings

Just because you are taking time to focus on yourself, it doesn’t mean that you are ignoring the feelings of those around you. Life is all about balance and it’s important to learn how to recognize and separate your needs with somebody else’s. Taking time for yourself may also help you to better help somebody in the future. If you take the time to reboot and relax now then you’ll be able to better focus on the people around you.

Woman looking at herself in a lighted mirror

3. You can only love when you learn to love yourself

I know this is cheesy and you hear it all the time but it’s completely true. You can’t properly love anybody else or let anybody love you until you do your part first. You can’t expect others to think you’re amazing until you think that about yourself and you can’t be completely open until you are open with yourself. It’s important to put yourself first so that you can be more open to relationships, whether platonic or romantic, in the future.

Two women laughing in a restaurant, one blonde hair, one brunette

4. Focus on your values

By putting yourself first, you will start to learn what inspires you. You will learn what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning, even when no one is telling you to. You will learn what makes you angry or sad or happy or filled with laughter. If your thoughts are clouded by other people’s ideas and judgments, then you will never be able to make your own decisions. Take time to focus on yourself so that you can become a stronger person.

Putting yourself first does not mean that you’re selfish. It does not mean that you are weak or not a good friend. The only thing that it proves is that you are a human being. You need time to focus on you so that you can truly become independent. You only have one life to live so make sure that you are the number one priority.

Do you struggle with putting yourself first?

How do you prioritize yourself? Are you an empathetic person? Do you struggle with wanting to put others first? 

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