This I Believe

Jillian - Montclair, New Jersey
Entered on June 29, 2007

This, I believe…

It is o.k. to be self-centered. Not only is it o.k., it is imperative. I have always thought that to fulfill my most cherished roles of mother, daughter, wife and friend I had to give all of my time, energy, emotion and sweat to those that I love. I am slowly learning and re-learning that not only is it impossible to be everywhere for everyone, it is not even desirable.

When I am self-centered, I am grounded. I am strong and independent. When I am self-centered, I am supportive and giving. When I am self-centered, I can say “Yes. Yes…I’d be happy to…” or have the power to say “Hey, random neighborhood kids in my house, it is dinner time….Go Home.” For me self-centered does not mean selfish. It means having the self-respect and self-control to decide for myself when and how to contribute to my community.

When I am not self-centered, I become self-less. When I am self-less, I do not volunteer; I am volunteered. I do not have visitors; I have intruders. When I am self-less, I do not exist because I don’t quite know how to say “No.”– “No, I do not have a minute.”– “No, I cannot make 125 cupcakes by tomorrow morning.”– “No, I will not pick your kids up, feed them and do the same tomorrow.”

When I am self centered, I have more to give and more time to spend.

When I am self-less I am not useful, I am used.

I have come to believe that when you give a man a fish, he’ll be back for dinner the next night and the following. Why must it be about the man and his fish? What about the person who prepared that generous meal or set aside her own precious time to help him to help himself. I don’t even like fish.

I do not come from a religious background. My family was guided by the “Golden Rule” and a healthy serving of guilt. I was brought up to be “good” and to work hard. That is still what I wish to do. But I now believe that it is good to put my needs first and to stand my ground. Otherwise I relinquish that which is my self to be defined and diffused by the wishes and whims of others less self-less than I.

I now work every day to be a little more self-centered. As a result, I like who I am more. This makes me a better mother, daughter, wife and friend. It is o.k. to be self-centered. And it is o.k. to not like fish.