Sometimes, I wonder if I am the most selfish person in the world. And at those times, I’m not sure if I’m just comparing the current me to the former me — the me who lived to make everyone else around me happy, so of course I seem selfish compared to that — or if I really am as selfish as I think as backlash from that former me. Maybe it’s a little of both. Sometimes, I can almost watch myself objectively and see things I should do or things that would be better for someone else, and I then also watch myself not do any of those things.
I probably should have gone to California earlier. I could have helped out. Taken away the burden. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Sure I had things to do here and it worked out better to wait until today to go, but I also know I could have put everything on hold. I could have made a way to make it down there. But it was too much. It was hard enough to deal with my own sadness. I couldn’t add the responsibility of my entire family on top of that. Was that too selfish? Probably. I don’t know. But it was all I could take.
I look at my life as it stands now and nearly everything is the result of being selfish. Perhaps I “should” have stayed married with the vows and the til death til us part and the minister pulling us aside after the ceremony and telling us that he’d never had a couple he’d married divorce. But I just wasn’t willing to live that life and I had changed too much and wasn’t willing to go back.
I could have stuck with my job and that other job and my last boyfriend and he told me that I couldn’t commit and would end up old and alone and maybe. Maybe he’s right. But I just couldn’t sacrifice my happiness and living the life I wanted for the sake of doing the right thing and not being alone.
Will I regret it? I don’t think so. Which is part of why I wonder if I’m the most selfish person in the world. Shouldn’t I regret, a little, not doing all of these things that I should?
I’m reading this book, Stumbling on Happiness, and it’s all about the psychology of how we feel and how we think and one section is about regrets. And it says that studies have found that we rarely regret things we do. Rather, we regret things we don’t do.
And I don’t regret things I do. Of course, the book also talks about how we rationalize experiences we have, and maybe that’s all I’m doing. But I think I’d rather try and fail. Even the things that have devastated me the most, that have brought me pain that I thought I couldn’t bear, even that, I don’t regret any of it. The joy, the experience, how my life has changed, it was all worth it.
I can’t spend my life avoiding pain anyway, so may as well go full in. Why avoid things because of the risk of pain — all of life is a risk, right and you’re going to run into pain no matter how much you try to protect yourself. We can spend it not experiencing anything or going for it.
And I think that, and then I wonder again about selfishness. It feels so much like “fuck the consequences” and we should care about consequences, right? But I’m thinking of the consequences of not trying anything, not risking anything, of staying in the same place, of not knowing anything new, of dying the same as I am today and looking back and not experiencing life. And I guess that consequence seems worse than of trying everything I can.
I wonder if I’m wrong. And maybe I really am the most selfish person in the world. But we all want to be happy. I’m just doing the best I can.