This I Believe

Kelley - Sammamish, Washington
Entered on January 2, 2008

I found that when sorting through the highway of my mind I was at a loss for essay topics. Yes there are many things that I believe and many morals that I value, but no light bulb flashed on above my head. And then I asked myself: what is important to me at this crucial time in my life? Without pausing I said, “myself….” Confused by my own answer I thought hard to find a reason to how I could be so selfish at a time when there are so many people in need of help.

When on a plane the flight attendants always go over the safety instructions in case of an emergency. The first thing that a flight attendant will say is “ properly secure the oxygen mask over your head first before securing the mask on another person.” Suppose I choose to help the person sitting next to me before I put on my mask? What happens? The underline meaning in the standard flight emergency drill is that before you help others you must first help yourself or else you are useless.

When in grade school I was always taught that helping is caring. Be happy to help others even if that means putting myself in a position that is seemingly unfair. Had I still not grasped the concept of helping to think that I am the most important thing in my own life? No, that couldn’t have been it!

Growing older, and undoubtedly wiser, I feel that to truly help someone you must first help yourself, even if that means being a bit selfish. I know this to be true when a couple years ago my father was sick; however, motivated enough to get healthier. Soon after that realization he checked himself into rehab for some intense “me time.” Much younger then, I resented him for the duration of his absence. I hated the fact that he left for a whole month, a month when I needed his help like I needed oxygen to breath. How could he be so selfish to just leave? However, following the months of his return I reveled in his new happiness and outlook on life. Nothing could waver his values, and thus he instilled them in me. It is with those values that I can get out of bed every morning. My father needed to help himself before he was capable to help others. Perhaps it is through this lesson that I believe to help others the first step is to be selfish and help yourself.

Adapting to a new phase in life, I am aware of the fact that I still need to figure out who I am. I consider myself an enigma… to myself! In order to help those around me I must learn who I am and through that knowledge help and teach others. That doesn’t mean to say that I will never lift a finger to help others until I know who I am, but rather I will consider my own feelings in the equation. I look forward to the day when I can confidently say who I am and embark on a lifestyle that is unselfish, but until then I will continuing helping myself even if that means being a bit selfish.