My Selfish Experiment
I embarked on a journey in 2017. A journey that I didn’t even tell my closest friends about. I declared to my husband on New Year’s Eve last year that this was a “me year.” I unapologetically said I was going to be “selfish” this year. You see, my life previously was very similar to many parents out there. Constantly thinking of everyone else, putting my children before me, putting my husband before me, and putting my job before me. I was exhausted, unhappy with life, and in a state of constant exhaustion.
Two years’ prior, my husband who travels full time for work during the week had declared he was going to begin his life-long dream of earning an MBA on the weekends. With a small child at home, I hesitated but knew we would survive. Fast forward to his first day of graduate school, I find out I’m pregnant. Okay, this journey that we knew would be difficult suddenly seemed impossible. However, like most stories, we survived, grew stronger, and realized strength we didn’t know existed in ourselves, marriage, and family. Fast forward again to New Years’ Eve 2016. I declare a “me year.” Declaring a “me year” now makes more sense, right?!? I learned and gained so much wisdom, insight, and knowledge from this full year dedicated to just me!
I learned that by making my needs a priority didn’t mean that I was actually being selfish. Instead, it meant that I had more to give. My family felt more connected. No longer was the morning and night-time routines with the children a difficult and a draining task; instead it was something I threw myself in. Bath water everywhere? So what! Requested extra cuddles? Yes! Nightmares that require more cuddles? You bet I’m there! These tasks no longer felt like they were taking from me, but instead it felt meaningful.
My marriage became stronger during this “me year.” I took my husband out on date nights almost every weekend. We didn’t apologize for making our marriage a priority. Yes, we have kids at home, but we modeled what a healthy marriage looks like. After 17 years together, I can honestly say my husband and I are closer than ever before.
I set limits at work. I went on three vacations at non-ideal times. I took off at times to take care of my family. I sometimes took longer than expected to respond to emails. You know what happened? I connected more with my clients. I was able to check-in on more clients during the week when I knew they were going through a difficult time. I felt the sessions in a more real and authentic way. My caseload also expanded, as I think others probably felt more genuine warmth, as I was able to give so much more, by giving more to myself.
During this “me year,” I started putting my self-care first, and I realized that the world didn’t stop. If I needed a haircut, manicure, or work-out, I stopped planning around everyone else’s schedule and just did it. The funny thing is, my 2-year old daughter decided she wanted to join in on the fun, and we started having mommy/daughter nail dates. These “selfish” acts that I normally would never make time for began to be one of the most fun mommy/daughter bonding times!
The “me year” taught me to stop talking about goals, dreams, and visions, and just do them! My favorite quote became, “If you want to do it. Just do it. It will either work out or it won’t.” I feel that we as humans tend to over complicate our dreams by being afraid of failure. I decided not to be afraid of failure. What is the worst that will happen? I’ve had a dream since college of owning a business, creating something of my own, and giving back to the neighborhood I live in. I had been commuting 2 hours a day to my previous job. I loved the work, but the time in the car and away from my family was draining me. As my “me” year was coming to a close, I informed my husband that “By the way, I quit my job today, and I’m starting a group practice near the house.” He chuckled and said “Good for you. You are crazy.” When I informed my clients of my job/location change, most of my clients responded by telling me how “proud” they were of ME. I think maybe they even understood that I don’t often make “selfish” decisions. And you know what, it worked out. Sometimes you just take a leap of faith and let the dreams soar, and it’s an awesome feeling.
Overall, I learned that by being selfish that I was able to give so much more than I got during this year. This year wasn’t really about being “selfish.” Instead, it was telling the world that “I, too, am valuable. I, too, and worthy of love, support, and care. I, too, have needs.” I can say this was the best year of my life. The best year for my family. The best year for my marriage. The best year for my work. And the best year for my health. I matter, y’all, and so do you. Never doubt your self-worth or ability to value you own needs. To truly be able to give to others, we need to be able to give to ourselves. I challenge you to make 2018 a “me year.” Write me in a year, firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell me how it went. I can’t wait to hear your success stories because you matter, too!
Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S
Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing counseling and diagnostic evaluations for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, evaluations, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting www.heightsfamilycounseling.com and read more about her services by visiting http://heightsfamilycounseling.com/services-1/