How I Give Up My Selfishness For The Love Of My Life
The other day, I was listening to a friend’s podcast where she was talking about how she was always worried that her crush was secretly recording them and sending them inappropriate texts.
“Do you still do that?” she asked.
“Of course I do,” I replied.
“Do you still put yourself first?” she asked.
“Of course I do,” I replied again.
“Do you think that’s because you think they like you?” she asked.
“I think it’s because I like them,” I replied.
“You like them?” she asked again.
“I like them because they like me.”
Her face grew dark. “You don’t like yourself anymore, do you?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I muttered.
She pouted. “And don’t tell me how much you drink,” she said.
“I don’t want to drink,” I said. “I’m trying to lose weight.”
“You’re not trying to lose weight,” she said. “You’re a good 5’10”.
I looked down at my feet. “I know,” I said. “But I still like to drink.”
“You like to drink because you have nothing better to do,” she said.
I shrugged. “I guess.”
The podcast was about as popular as mine, and I’m sure most of my friends have never heard of it. I was listening to it with my friend when the podcast’s host, Alex Trebek, announced that the next question that each guest would get to choose was either “What’s your favorite thing about yourself?” or “What do you wish people knew about you?”
I scrolled through my answers, each more annoying than the last. “I wish people knew about me,” I said.
My friend Laila beat me to the choice. “Laila, you’re a great friend,” Alex said. “You know that?” he said to Laila, who was still unpacking her answers. “What’s your favorite thing about yourself?”
Laila picked herself. “I know,” she said.
Alex then asked each guest a question that contained the same sentiment: “What’s your favorite thing about yourself?” With each question, he would ask again: “What’s your favorite thing about you?”
My last thought before the show started: I don’t even know if I would have watched the show if my friends hadn’t recommended it to me.
My friends did know. They also liked to drink, but not to the same extent as me. One, a musician, liked to drink because she was competitive and couldn’t control her thirst. She liked to drink because she was independent and felt like she didn’t have to please anyone else. She was funny, kind, and always there to lend a listening ear.
I was more similar to them in all of those ways, but I didn’t reciprocate their giddiness over their good qualities.
I was more similar to them in the way I chose to spend my time. They all encouraged and supported my hobbies. I was more similar to them in the way I spent my money. They all encouraged and supported my decisions to spend my money on whatever I wanted.
When I finished, I felt lighter than I had in a long time.
I don’t know if my friends liked me as much when I was a single mom to an infant as they do now that I’m an adult with a career, but I can say with certainty that the people who liked me the most were the people who gave me the most support.
Even when they weren’t actively seeking me out, they were always making plans to go see a movie I was going to see, or to come to a party I was going to party, or to spend a couple of hours hanging out with me on a Wednesday night when the kids were bedtime.
Even when they weren’t actively seeking me out, they would always make plans to go see a movie or go to a party with me, or spend a couple of hours hanging out with me on a Wednesday night when the kids were bedtime.
My friends knew that even when they had other things they were really interested in, like graduate school or careers, they still cared about me. They wanted me to be happy, and they would do their best to make me happy.
But they also knew that I was an impossible actuary, that I was as invested in my kids’ well-being as they were, and that I cared about them as they did. They loved me even more when I was sad because there was no question about it.
This isn’t to say that I’m happy or even content. I’m still figuring out what I want by this point.