I’ve never had a very strong sense of self. Almost as if this entity that everyone calls “Raff” doesn’t really exist outside of other people. My self-deprecation has hit some pretty disgusting lows in the past; to the point where I’ve found myself wondering what purpose there was to continue if I wasn’t taking care of someone else.
I’ve never really known how to place myself as the priority. Historically, my mother has set the example of selflessness. In my entire life, I think I’ve seen her shop for herself twice, and both of these occasions were for an event that she couldn’t recycle more old clothes from her closet for. I never saw her question my dad, not even once. She would spend hours in the kitchen cooking, not only for her large family, but also for families in the church who were having a rough time. Her faith was unshakable, her generosity unquestioned. The majority of my childhood was spent watching my mother’s example of sainthood – and I never wanted to be anything else but like her.
And I think maybe I went a bit too far…
Not making coffee in the morning, because my partner doesn’t like it, and what’s the point of making coffee just for myself?
Not eating if no one is around because, what the fuck would I cook dinner just for myself for?
Not going where I want to go
Not doing what I want to do
Not being who I want to be
Because some misled part of me believes it will make another person happy.
It’s with a bit of shame that I admit to even some of these small things, let alone the life altering decisions I have made to make someone else happy.
In the last few months though, I have realized that this extreme selflessness is a character flaw, and not something to be proud of.
You can’t help other people if you don’t help yourself. Everyone would call you stupid if, not knowing how to swim, you jumped in the raging water to rescue someone.
And so I keep telling myself – “Raff, you gotta learn how to swim first.”
You have to learn how to take care of yourself before you take care of others.
It’s a difficult idea to shake – the one that whispers that everyone else deserves more than you, that everyone else needs you to put yourself on the back burner. But shit man, most people can take care of themselves, so I don’t know why I stress so much.
So, if there is one area of self-development that I need (Trust me, there are a lot of areas that I need to work on) it’s seeing myself as valuable – someone worth taking care of.
Being cognizant of the fact that my behavior is hurting me is the first step. Changing my behavior has proven to be much more difficult – but every day is step in the right direction.
And with that, I am off to have dinner with a pretty girl. Which, aptly, is exactly what I want to be doing right now.