I’ve always considered myself to be a very giving person, I like to be there for people in times of need and I am always willing to help someone in whatever it is they are doing. But sometimes we all need to be a little bit more selfish. I’m not talking about not wanting to share the last piece of cheesecake or refusing to give up the T.V remote (although cheesecake is very tough to share and sometimes you just can’t watch another episode of Say Yes to the Dress), but I am talking, almost exclusively, about doing what is best for you. The idea that every once in awhile it’s okay to say “forget about what the outcome will be for him or her” and focus more on “what is the best thing for me right now”.
This is a difficult state of mind for most, myself included. My mother raised me to be a giving and understanding person. She is the first person to drop everything she has going on in her life in order to help whoever needs her. Do not get me wrong, she is an absolute saint for what she does for other people and I only hope that people recognize that, but there are downfalls to being so selfless: people take advantage of you sometimes and in the end you forget that the most important person in your life is you, 100%. Over the past couple of years, through University and other social environments, I have been able to adapt a more selfish rather than selfless attitude. That being, I started to forget what everyone else thought or needed and focused on myself first.
This may come off a little bit harsh at first, but let me explain further and connect this mentality to my stutter and my speech. I spent so much of my adolescent years worrying about what others thought of my speech. In almost every conversation I had I would put 90% of my focus on trying to read the listener’s face to see if they were reacting to my stutter. What this meant was that I always felt like I never really got a chance to say what I really wanted to say, rather I said what I could say. This concept may be lost on some, but the gist of it is that sometimes it’s easier to say nothing at all than to say what you want to say. This rings true for people with social anxieties as well who fear that their opinion is worthless (it’s not) or that they aren’t smart enough (you are), but for me it never got to that point. I was often held back from saying what I wanted to say purely because I couldn’t actually say it.
Fast forward to my last 2 years of University. At some point something just clicked and I told myself “you’re a smart guy, you have meaningful opinions, and you’re probably just as smart as, if not smarter than, Sally-who-answers-every-question over there in the front row”. So I started to speak out more, started to ask questions, and even answer questions. I started to see a real change in myself and it all came rather drastically. For those reading this who know me well maybe haven’t seen this quieter side of me (I can be a little outspoken at times with those I know well), but I digress. This turnaround in my attitude towards speaking made its way into other parts of my life and I started to do things more for me rather than the person beside me. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not actively going out there to make other people’s lives worse in order to make mine better, I simply am trying my best to not let me hold me back. I always felt capped in what I was willing to do socially due to my fear of other people’s thoughts about my speech. I focused so much on what they were thinking rather than what I wanted to say, and I feel so stupid now for letting that have such a negative effect on me, but I grew from that.
I can honestly say that I still, more often than I would like to admit, focus on listeners’ facial expressions and sometimes lose track of what I am trying to say because I am focusing more on what the other people are hearing. “Did they hear me stutter there, do they understand what is going on, should I just nod along and let them take the conversational lead”? But my conscious effort to put myself before everyone else has helped me in strides towards being more comfortable with my stutter and I truly think it can help all of you reading this make positive changes in your lives.
Do something just for you, make a choice that may benefit you more than someone else, but do it with a kind heart and a meaningful mindset. Think of it as a self-help step towards bettering yourself so that you can be a better help to those who need you. Being selfish has helped my comfort level with my speech and I am grateful that I have been able to put my best interests first sometimes, because it is not an easy thing to do, but trust me, it is worth it.