Thursday, February 9, 2012

The art of being selfish

Those Victorians have a lot to answer for. Their determination that every member of society should walk the 'straight and narrow path' (while a noble attempt to raise us all to the moral high ground) has left most of us in the western world with a damaged psyche.

Strong words, I know. After all, why shouldn't we have higher morals and strive for a better world?
Well, of course we should.

But not at the expense of our own selves.

More than a hundred years after Queen Victoria died, we still feel guilty if we put ourselves ahead of others.

I'm here to tell you right here and now that this guilt is CRAP. Yes, I just swore. That's how strongly I feel about this.

We can't look after others if we don't first look after ourselves. We can't give strength to others, if we aren't first strong in ourselves. You can't give financial aid to others, unless we first pay our own bills.

And we can't teach our children how to be whole, confident, successful individuals if we give up our own selves, our hobbies and our passions, to serve them. I have two daughters. The best lesson I can teach them is that they need to give me space to be who I am.

Yes, it's selfish. But how else am I going to teach my daughters to reach for their dreams if I don't reach for mine?

I spend quality time with them. But when I close my door and sit down at my laptop to write, that's when I get quality time with ME. They have to respect that. I have to respect that. Because if I don't, then I'm teaching them it's okay to let other people trample over my dreams. I would be teaching them that I am not as worthy of my own time as they are. And in turn, I'm showing them by example not to value themsleves, because I don't value myself.

It's been a hard lesson for me to learn, but I've learned it. I'm selfish, and I'm not ashamed to say it out loud.

We are the generation that can break those ties to our Victotian ancestors. We can let go the ropes that moor us to the earth, and we can soar. And continuing the analogy, we are the generation that can reach the stars, and enable those who follow to fly even further, beyond our wildest dreams.

Being selfish isn't bad. It's a beginning. Because once we have selfishly built ourselves up, we can build up others. We can raise our entire community and society to that high ground the Victorians so valued, a place where all of our dreams can come true. (Who knows, maybe even the dream of world peace might come true?)

So what are you teaching your children about following their dreams? Do you want them to do what you do, or only what you say? Show versus tell?
Do your children respect your ME time? Do you?

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