Constantly, I ask myself; how many of us women, are having to sacrifice something that we deeply desire, in order to satisfy the needs of others?
Do we go against our wishes, simply because we are forced to or given an ultimatum? Or, are we having to give up on something, so dear to us, just for the sake of peace?
The real question is, what about us?
What about making ourselves happy?
What about sacrificing for what we truly want?
How many times do we embrace ourselves, before we start loving our partners and those around us?
Maya Angelou, an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist once said, “If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?” And with this, I learnt to love me.
I had to keep reminding myself that self-love, was not the same as being selfish or cruel. But, it was the same as spending more time, on nurturing my wellbeing, as well as my happiness.
Although sacrifice may be at times, unavoidable, when it came down to it, it wasn’t so easy for me. I often found that I was not being true to myself. I mean, why was I the one having to give up what I want?
Why was it always me? Having to be a good partner and doing what it takes to make my relationship work. Why was I having to be the friend, that was fond of saying yes, just because I didn’t want our friendship to go down the sink?
And even when I did, I felt un-appreciated.
Four years ago, prioritizing myself was extremely hard. The word me didn’t exist.
I was so bothered about hurting people’s feelings; when really I was crushing and neglecting mine. I was so busy dancing to the music of others; but forgetting to create my own beat. I got so wrapped up in helping and pleasing people, that I forgot to invest in me.
I was weakened by it all, and most times swimming in regret. It left me feeling resentful and stressed.
Even when I promised myself to say “no, no, no,” I was always quick to say yes.
I found it difficult saying, “no, sorry I can’t” or, “let me check my schedule,” and emotionally it was draining me. Most times, I found myself diving right in and saying yes to a favour, without even thinking twice about it.
But, along the line, I learnt that I was allowed to say no, or take the time to think about my decision before nodding my head.
Even when I said no, I was criticized, manipulated, guilt-tripped and disliked; and even though I didn’t like letting people down, I couldn’t bare to let myself down too.
Don’t get me wrong, for many people, it’s more natural to show sympathy and commitment towards friends and family, than it is towards themselves. Eventually, I began to worry less about what people thought, and directed my attention to my inner self.
I plucked up the courage and adopted an attitude of self-love. I became more confident, and I felt free.
Finally, I knew who I was again.
No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.
Although I had trapped and caved myself in other people’s worlds, I was now painting my own picture. I now had a voice; and no, I didn’t feel guilty about it.
I will not feel guilty for putting myself first, because I’m not doing anything wrong.
I was simply setting some boundaries, and that didn’t make me a terrible person.