“See you are selfish”

June 5th, 2013  |  by Veralyn Williams |  Published in Blog, Personal Essays  |  1 Comment

To this day, the most hurtful thing anyone has ever called me, is selfish. By the way, selfish, according to webster dictionary means: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself. And like most things in my life, the context is what made it hurt the most.

While not-watching a movie with my best friend, turned lover, who by that time knew me for over 10 years– I started my usual “questions” game with him.

Me: When did you first realize you loved me?

Best friend, turned lover: I’ve always loved you.

Me: When did you first realize you loved me more than a friend?

BFTL: The first time we kissed.

Me: What’s your favorite thing about me?

BFTL: Your smile.

Me: What’s your least favorite thing about me?

BFTL: You’re selfish.

Yup. Just like that. It came out of his mouth so easily… almost like he’d just been waiting for me to ask him that.

Me: How am I selfish?

BFTL: You only do things that are convenient for you.

Me: Um. That’s not true. Was it convenient for me to pack a bag and come here? Was it convenient for me to cook that meal you just ate? And you picked this movie, not me!

BFTL: I paid for the cab that brought you here. I picked up the groceries. And we’re not watching the movie, are we?

So as you can imagine, that conversation did not end there, but instead of going into all the ways I rebutted his assertion that being in a NON-relationship with him, when I was looking for a commitment, was me “only doing things that are convenient”… I instead want to ask: just what is so bad about making decisions based on what’s best for me?

Now my BFTL is not one of those guys that says things he doesn’t mean, so I know he really believes I’m selfish. He even found other moments to “prove his point.” Like when I said I didn’t want to have kids, because nothing about being pregnant looked fun. This man, who will NEVER have a person growing in HIS uterus, had the nerve to call me selfish. An extreme example, but this, like his other “see you are selfish” moments, was me just siding with my interests… making sure they would be met.

Like many girls, I was socialized to be “nice” and accommodating, so yes- once I’ve committed to something, I do it with a smile… despite any feelings to the contrary. But as I’ve gotten older, I don’t feel the need to commit to things, I know wont benefit me in anyway. Does that make me selfish?

Of course there is one HUGE exceptions to this rule… family. That’s the one area where no matter what, I am consumed with guilt if I don’t make a little cousins’ birthday party, or if I haven’t spent time with my niece in a while. And then there are my parents, who as I get older (and after I moved to the opposite end of the world, as far as the Bronx is concerned… Brooklyn) I see just how much their kids mean to them.

Growing up I was busy trying to find my place in life, and then one day it hit me: I am my parents’ life. (Yikes! Um… can you say pressure?!)

Their goal was to love each other forever and work hard to raise a successful family. So one can say my decision to move (with my income) while money was tight for them, was selfish. But I was suffocating in the house I’d lived in since I was 3 years old. I would get off the D train at 183RD and dread my walk home. Seeing the same faces I’d seen all my life… doing the same things… just chillin’ on the corner… and so when a friend was giving up her amazing apartment in Brooklyn… I jumped on it. However, that decision brought me back to BFTL’s image of me. As a girl who only thinks of herself. (Sigh) But aren’t we supposed to save ourselves, before we attempt to save others?

I am currently in the midst of another crossroads in my life. If I don’t find my dream job (ie: a job in my field, that allows me to live, go to the doctor, and save for my possibly single and childless future) soon… I need to decide what I’m going to do next. And as a wise person once said: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. So whatever I decided to do, it will probably be drastic and life changing. But should I really take into account anybody else, besides ME, as I consider all my options? [Does that question alone make me selfish?]


  1. Anonymous says:

    June 5th, 2013at 5:39 am(#)

    It doesn’t make you selfish. It makes you a person that is honest with their needs. People… loved ones are conditioned to being put first. Women are conditioned as you said, to do it with a smile. You are being contrary to popular belief…and no one can understand how you can do that and sleep soundly.

    I know this because you wrote my life in this blog.

    I think your BFTL may really be trying to tell you that you need balance. Maybe it’s something to think about as far as your relationship. But other than that, there is no reason NOT to put yourself first. We are the first generation to really do so. So, it’s up to us to change popular perception of the womanhood in 2013.

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