Selfishness and Selflessness

When I was about 4, I remember my sisters baking up a tray of hot, crispy, golden brown tater tots. “Tree, do you want some?” they asked.

Let’s be clear. I FREAKIN LOVE TATER TOTS. I love them so much I would prooobably eat them out of Napoleon Dynamite’s pocket. The answer was and always will be YES. GIVE. NOW. I want like 45! But what was my response?

 “If you want me to.

This little phrase was to become my catchphrase. I started saying it with the regularity and obnoxiousness of an Olsen twin drawling “You got it dude” on Full House. Ew.

I thought it was the most perfect combination of words though. I really wanted to please people. If they wanted me to eat tater tots, then great! We'd all be wildly happy! If they didn't want me to have any, it would be better for everyone if I refrained. So, best to make my response conditional to their wants.

What can I say, people-pleasing is just deep in these tater-tot-loving bones. This is why I’ve struggled to find the balance between selflessness and selfishness, sometimes vacillating from one extreme to the other for years at a time. I’ll go for long stretches of placing other people’s needs above my own, then suddenly realize that I have to get reacquainted with what on earth it is that I want, which can be a long process.

Right now I’m clearly in a selfish phase. It’s okay, we can acknowledge it! You can tell by the content of this blog. I know there are bigger, far more important issues to write about than what’s in my notebook or who my celebrity crush was. But I do think that part of our unique privilege and most important duty as human beings is to gain a deep understanding of ourselves. The good, the bad, the confusing. 

I learned the hard way that if you don't care for yourself first, caring for others becomes unsustainable. In order to have good relationships, close relationships, you have to know how to handle your emotions, what upsets you and why, and what gives you energy. And you have to learn how to communicate these things. 

Being good to yourself and others requires a healthy balance of selfishness and selflessness, one that I am still seeking. If anyone close to me has been feeling neglected lately, please know that it's not intentional, and that I don't plan to be this self-absorbed forever! Let's reconnect over tater tots, fries, or hash browns soon, k?