dear former self: why being “selfish” can sometimes be selfless

Dear Former Self,

I think you are okay.

But perhaps a little too hard on yourself.  You told yourself that taking care of yourself is selfish. You told yourself that if you didn’t tell people that they were being offensive or rude or wrong, that their behavior was at least partially on you.

You confronted your cousin on supporting an organization that vilified queer folk, because they needed to be educated. That resulted in a fruitful conversation for you, didn’t it?

You argued with people convinced that something you WERE LITERALLY DOING couldn’t be done.

You internalized every negative thing said about you– and if someone expressed something nice, you ignored it. Somehow the people saying hateful things were worth more time and effort.

So you spent more energy on trying to make people who hated you like you, than on the people who went out of their way to show you love and support.

Sometimes I am tempted to revert back to you, former self.

Some girl insulted and toyed with my friend. I think, Should I talk to her about her awful behavior? I’ve (not personally, former self) been encouraged to gently respond to guys who send grossly inappropriate messages.

Show them that kind of approach just is NOT going to work.  If someone thinks I should try to get through to a person I’ve never met, surely I should try to help guide someone I might meet in person?

But, former self, it just isn’t worth it.

I know you mean well.  I also know it’s terrible for my mental health. It wastes energy that could be spent on my friends and my family. Plus, it’s pointless. Nobody wants unsolicited advice, former self.  Why should they?

Because the truth is that it kinda strokes one’s ego to be the Fixer.  The White Knight.  It’s our way of filling our need to be seen, which is important, but there are healthy ways to gain recogniion. This doesn’t have to be the way to do it.

Dearest former self, I appreciate you.

But I think it’s best to move on, to grow.  I hope you understand. I’d rather spread a little more positivity, focus on other issues that need my help.

Maybe it’ll make a difference. Maybe not, but at least I’ll feel like I’m helping move things a bit in the right direction. For my own peace of mind, if nothing else.

Remember, former self, you can be the juiciest peach in the world.

Someone will still hate peaches.

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