I think of myself as a special being and in my specialness, I tend to put people’s needs above mine. People like family. People like close friends. My family is those I can abandon everything I’m doing just to be there for them, I could empty my bank account without thinking twice when they are in dire need. My super special close friends are the ones I can push my feelings aside for, they are the ones I strive to be present for.

I remember a day in the year 2020, it was towards the end of the year and I had been depressed for months. That particular day, I was crying when Promise’s, a dear friend, call came in. She was having a panic attack and she called. In my usual way, I wiped my tears and stayed on the phone with her till she felt better. She cried and ranted and I listened. During those moments, I ceased to care about myself. I just wanted my friend to feel better and when she did, I ended the call and went back to my reality. She called at a time when I needed myself but I decided, as was typical, to place her well-being above mine. That is one of the many many instances of me placing people that are dear to me above myself.

I was in an accident one time and I came out with a sprained ankle. Movement became difficult and I could foresee a long healing process. In the middle of recuperating, I had to travel down to Ondo State on a bus. The woman who sat beside me had two kids, one of them appeared to be eleven years old and the other was still a toddler. She asked if I could help her carry the older child on my lap and I could have said no because my ankle wasn’t fully healed and I still had trouble moving but I agreed at the cost of a great inconvenience to myself. The child sat on my lap for over three excruciating hours and throughout the journey, I didn’t make my inconvenience known. When I got off the bus at my destination, I couldn’t feel my legs and I was unable to move them. When I could finally move them, I had to drag my legs to mimic walking and as I suffered, I felt disappointed in myself for winning against better judgment: saying no to the woman because carrying her child meant inconvenience to me.

Along with the way I deprive myself of comfort just to make others feel better, I, also, tend to put myself last in situations where it’s often expected for me to come first. When I pray, for instance, to ask for either God’s blessing or protection, I mention my siblings’ names first, followed by my parents, then me. I have prayed in this manner for so long that it almost defaults now: I have become used to it.

When I’m asked why I want to be successful in life, my reasons are simple: to make life better for people around me and it is my main motivation. Therefore, I feel incapable and saddened when I’m unable to help. So, on the fateful day that Seyi, a friend, asked me, “Miracle, you talk about your family and friends a lot, you talk about doing a lot of things for them but where do you stand in the picture?” Everything became funny in the way sad things can be because the question made me see that I didn’t include myself in the picture. I only saw others. I was used to the thought that “I live for them” and most of my decisions were made with them in consideration. But Seyi’s question made me ponder, what about me? Is there someone who wants to live for me? Am I the first person in anybody else’s prayers?

In retrospect of my past relationships, my partners’ feelings were always before mine. I felt the need to always be there for them regardless of how my emotions were running at the moment: because I genuinely liked them but the question that I know the answer to is did they feel the same way towards me?

Seyi’s question freed the exhaustion I harbored but have been keeping out of mind because of my need to apply myself to other people without regard for my wellbeing. His question was the bridge I crossed to the understanding that sometimes, it is okay to be selfish. It is okay to put myself above others, and it is okay to think about myself first because nobody is going to do that for me. It is okay to have my best interest in mind. It is okay to look out for myself before looking out for others. It is okay to choose myself first before thinking about anyone else. It is okay to see or hear something good about someone and wish it was me. It is okay to go for what I want not because I want to please or displease anyone but because it is my heart’s desire.

Being a firstborn in a family comes with a lot of responsibilities that can be overwhelming but it is okay to live for yourself rather than the people you feel responsible for. It is okay for me to live for myself rather than the people I feel responsible for. I crave selfish decisions that are going to benefit me first. I yearn for the lifestyle of living for me. I’m exhausted from all the times I have lent a hand and it’s time for me to give myself a hand. No one else will do it for me and at the end of the day, everybody will be fine.

So, henceforth, I have decided, I will be selfish.