Self-care, or selfish?

01 February 2014

Selfish: (adj) Devoted to or caring for only oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc.

Self-Care: (n) Care of the self without medical or professional consultation.

Today I just wanted to hide.

I was worn out from the screening trip and a long week and as a classic introvert I need time and space alone to unwind and recharge. 

But I had two different outings on the calendar; one I had planned in advance with a friend, one that came up unexpectedly that somewhere inside of me I felt I should go along to….

And the thought of going out, the whole getting ready and trying to tame my wild bedhead into something presentable and then speaking French and getting sweaty and walking and talking and connecting on a deeper level with those who I was with… it just exhausted me further.

So I said no to both and thanked them for their grace and hid in my room all day.  Because I’m an introvert?  Or because I’m selfish?

I’m always looking at my motives. Sometimes too much, I find myself intentionally searching out bad motives; and when you search long enough for something you’ll eventually find it, even if you unconsciously make it up in the first place just to have something to find. So I often have to reign in this part of me, this part that wants so badly to have pure, honest, good motives that I run myself in circles like a dog chasing its tail.

But today sort of felt selfish, as I certainly could have made it out and about, exerted the extra effort and pushed through the tiredness and loved well.

But then I read articles and remember speakers talking about the importance of self-care, especially in this line of work, when passion and purpose and faith and the wellbeing of others are all tangled together. This article popped up on Facebook today about the stress we feel and so then my self-care seems even more justified and necessary.

By late afternoon I found myself crying at everything.  I cried at a picture of my niece because I didn’t realize how hard it would be to watch her grow up from 5000 miles away.  Then a friend said I love you and tears made their way again down my cheeks, because on days like today I feel like that is in fact impossible.  Then I thought about going to dinner and cried because I just couldn’t face the sea of humanity up there.  Then I realized everything is just making me cry at this point and I need to chalk it up to tiredness, womanhood, and a long week, and grant myself the respite of self-care… which in this case might actually not be selfish but selfless because subjecting others to the crying mess that I am right now would just be wrong and unjust in itself.


I had put up on Facebook earlier today, “The line between selfish and self-care is hard to find” and received a lovely private message from a dear friend several thousand miles away.  She said the very fact that I was asking the question should lead to the realization that it is in fact self-care; a truly selfish person wouldn’t even ask the question or consider the alternatives.  True, my friend, and thank you for that reminder. I’ll stop chasing my tail now. 

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