I knew this before I was twenty, but I’ve come to really embrace it recently. A while back, my older sister, who was staying with us for a while, called me selfish. Mind you this was because I didn’t want to do something that she wanted me to. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like her calling me selfish because I didn’t fulfill a request of hers. I’ve never thought of my younger sister as selfish for not doing something I told her to. She’s just mean and likes having her own way. But who doesn’t?
Really? Who doesn’t? Who doesn’t want to have his own way? It’s called will. We are all individuals with our own individual wills. Me not wanting to do something for someone doesn’t make me selfish. Or I guess it does, since that’s the point I’m trying to make. I am selfish. I am. I want to have things go my way, and I get upset when they don’t. So does everyone else I know. It’s just that our reactions to not having things go our way are different. Some people really don’t mind it much, and good for them, but some do. I do.
So what if I don’t want to do something you ask me to? I’m selfish? Yes I am. And you’re not? You don’t also think of yourself first? Not really venting about my sister here, but I have seen it in her, in myself, and in others. We all have things we like or want, and things we dislike. Choosing someone else’s preference over your own, especially if you don’t share that preference, is considered a good thing to do. I think so too. And it’s something we all have to do. It’s called compromise; keeping the peace. Whatever. What I have a problem with is people calling other people out for things when they’re on the same ship on seats that are right next to each other. Calling someone selfish because that person doesn’t want to do something for you is crap. It’s crap because that person might have a damn good reason for choosing not to fulfill your request. And it’s crap because if that person asked you to do the same favour you would probably say no as well.
I’ve been thinking about this for over a year now. I really didn’t like her calling me selfish, because she was being selfish at the same time. She was thinking about herself and trying to hand off work that she could do herself but didn’t want to. It was wrong of her, but it helped me to realise that I am selfish – that a lot of us are, and it’s not a bad thing. That’s just the way we are. We all want what we want. And sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, we have to put what we want – what we need – before what someone else wants or needs. So am I selfish? Yes I am, and it’s time that you admit you are too.