I suck at being selfless. At my most altruistic I still secretly hope someone notices and thinks nice thoughts about me. Yeah… That’s when I’m trying to be selfless. Wow, I’m bad at this. I get a little solace in believing that this is how most people probably are… but feeling good because other’s aren’t better isn’t exactly the noblest of thoughts either.
See, the truth is, it’s all about me. All of this. Everything. Yup, I said it. I’m the center of the universe - my universe. What a crazy thought.
No matter how much I want to see other people happy, no matter how much I try to help them, even when I go out of my way to get out of my own way (did that make sense?) and make sure my happy little selfless acts go untraced, it’s still all about me. I’m bothered by that fact. I don’t like to think of myself as a selfish person. I try to be nice, I try to work hard, I try to be a good person. It’s something at which I suck (not fishing for compliments or reassurances here, just a blunt self-assessment).
I’ve been thinking this over after yet another failed relationship. There’s that quote about the only common denominator in your failed relationships is you. Kind of a depressing thought, but true, so I guess it was time for some introspection.
I really hate introspection sometimes. It’s far easier to pretend I’m God’s gift to mankind, a misunderstood, socially awkward, semi-talented, fairly well-educated, reasonably fit man. But introspection makes me admit that all of my strengths have weaknesses, and that I’ve got my fair share of weaknesses which I must strive to overcome.
Right now I’m thinking selfishness is in my top three things I need to work on. Selfishness led me to be a really, really crappy boyfriend. I had my moments, I certainly could have been worse, but it took the post-breakup look inside to realize just how many of the issues I was projecting outward were a direct manifestation of my own selfishness and unwillingness to work, give, and put someone else first.
Selfishness sucks. It’s so flippin’ hard to be happy when you’re being selfish. I might even say it’s impossible. Nothing will ever measure up to the perfect standard when it’s all about you. But when you can manage to stop thinking about yourself, that perfect standard magically becomes far less important. I know, mind shattering thought, eh? Lose yourself in service yada yada yada…
Well, I’m not good at “service” in the sense most people talk about it. It feels fake and forced to me. If it works for other people, that’s awesome, good on them, but to me, it usually (not always) feels like I’m trying to buy God’s brownie points. Service is just one of those areas where I have a difficult time putting myself in the right frame of mind.
So how do I be less selfish? Hmmm… Aint that the question. When I wake up in the morning the day is about me, when I go to sleep the day is about me. I’m thinking about me, what I need to do, what I want.
It’s all about me. It will always be about me… except when it’s not. I really doubt the personal wants, desires, and thoughts will ever go away, but I can go out of my way to think about other people. In a lot of little ways I’m great at this (chalk it up to ingrained habits from wonderful parents). I hold open doors (whoop whoop), randomly help old ladies carry things or load their cars, I do little pieces of co-workers’ jobs just to make their lives slightly easier in the moment. But these are small, small things.
And I’m starting to realize this whole selfless thing, it’s really all about the accumulation of small things… that and sucking it up sometimes, ignoring your wants, smiling, and doing something that’s hard or painful to make life a little better, easier, or happier for those around you.