I’d Rather be Selfish and Lonely

The beginning of 2017 took its toll on me, emotionally and mentally. Since December of 2016, I’ve been seeing a therapist and now realize that I’ve been (poorly) coping with anxiety and depression for a while. Which strangely enough is the norm for a lot of people, so I don’t feel too alienated. There’s quite a large sad club that I can turn to. But since seeing professional help, I’ve come to understand something about myself: I would rather be selfish and lonely.

Let me explain this, because these terms usually come with negative connotations. I’ve described myself as a selfish person for a while now, selfish in the sense that I put myself before others quite frequently. I’m not someone to spread myself thin by helping others or commit to so much that I end up letting people down. That doesn’t mean I don’t help at all, but I understand that at the end of the day I have to take care of myself first. It’s like putting your oxygen mask on yourself before others. How can I take care of others if I’m a pile of shambles myself?

Say what you will, tell me that helping others constantly is your life force. That’s awesome! We need people like you in this world! But for me? I can’t do it. It’s way too easy for me to become socially exhausted, and maybe that’s a side effect of my anxiety. Who knows, only time and my therapist can tell me what’s up.

Now, the lonely part. This took me longer to come to terms with. The popular saying, “lonely and being alone are two different things,” still applies, but I’ve taken it a step further. Most of my relationships, romantic or otherwise, have been toxic. I blame everyone being a succubus, but maybe it’s me. Maybe a little bit of both. But it’s taken me a very long time to realize that being with someone who’s shitty to you isn’t better than being alone. For some, it is. For me, it was.

And here’s where these two things intersect. For the people I love I will gladly do anything and everything for them. Doesn’t matter what it is, but that’s where the combination of selfishness and restraint must be used. I can’t be everything to someone who takes and doesn’t give. So when I realize that I’m in a situation that’s toxic, I go cold turkey. Complete removal from my life.

It took me five boyfriends and one best friend to realize this, so I’m not bragging about how easy this is. It’s not. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it really sucks the big one. You don’t want to be a person who stands by their “moral compass” 24/7. Sometimes you just want to live your damn life. But ultimately, living your damn life means surrounding yourself with people who support you and love you to bits. I’m 23 and have to cling to the fact that things get better. Until I can discover people who understand my mental makeup, I’ll be sitting at a table for one at Olive Garden eating far too much all-you-can-eat soup and salad. (Does this metaphor land? Eh, I don’t care).