I believe in putting yourself second. I think people have lost sight of the fact that the good feeling you get from seeing someone else happy and doing well because of what you did for them is just as, if not more, gratifying than putting your wants and needs first.
My parents, especially my dad, did their best to make sure my sister and I always knew to consider other peoples feelings and that most times helping a friend is more important than helping yourself. My mom stayed at home with my sister and me to ensure that the morals and values we learned were those of my parents and my dad worked full time, sometimes at a job he did not particularly enjoy, to make sure our family had the lifestyle he believed we should have.
My dad spent 22 years as an officer in the Air Force, the only job I think he was ever excited to have. He worked full time, only took sick days when necessary, and never took a vacation day until it was time for the family vacation. He did this so that in the summer he would have enough vacation days so he could take us to the beach for a week, to Massachusetts to visit my mom’s family, and to Florida to visit his. In late 2000 my dad decided to retire from the Air Force because he had put in enough years and we were in an area he and my mom did not want to leave, which we would have to be doing soon if he did not retire. My dad’s bosses already knew where and when our next three moves would be and with one daughter in high school and another entering high school the following year my parents thought it would be a bad idea for us to be moved so much in such short periods of time.
After he retired my dad went to work for MTSI, a company that does contracting for the government. He likes his job, but not as much as when he was in the Air Force.
Recently we were talking about careers and what I might want to do when I graduate from college and I will never forget what my dad said during that conversation. He said, “If I didn’t have to work at the job I was at I’d find something more personally rewarding in a heartbeat.” That’s when I knew for sure that everything my dad had ever done professionally was for the benefit of our family. I know he is proud to have seen my sister graduate from college and have me almost finished too, something that would not have been able to happen if he had put himself first. I am grateful for the things he has done for us and I just hope I can be as selfless as he was for my children one day.