As the age old saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. We all know that in theory it’s stupid to try help everyone else sort out their problems before we have first taken care of our own. So why do we find it so hard to prioritise our own wants and needs? Is it an act of self care or of selfishness to prioritise our own needs? If these questions have ever bugged you, here’s a reminder of why it’s not only good to put yourself first, but it is in fact essential to do so.
We all have that one ‘friend’; the one who will tell you endlessly about all of their own problems, who only asks how your day was so they can interrupt you to complain about their own. It’s true that this friend has their own certain brilliance. You know they only complain to you because they value your advice, and at least they have certainly taught you to be a good listener as you’ll never get a word in edgeways. However, would this friend honestly be there if you were the one who needed someone to vent to or just a kind listener? If you’re unsure of the answer, then it’s probably time to distance yourself from this ‘friend’. Friendships are supposed to be mutually beneficial, and of course there are times when one friend needs support more than the other, but if this becomes a regular pattern it can be harmful. Ditching friends like these should not be interpreted as an act of cruelty to them, but rather as an act of kindness to yourself. It is not cruel or wrong to put yourself first.
Issues with friends can be particularly prevalent this time of year, when many of us students have Christmas exams just around the corner. Everyone experiences stress differently, and it can bring out the worst in some people. In times of high pressure, the tiniest stupid remark someone makes can seem like the end of the world when you are already dealing with too many other problems. The run up to Christmas, which should be a happy time, is often quite a miserable period for students. It can be hard to keep up with the demanding academic work load, the onslaught of Christmas gatherings with family and friends, and the extra hours that the Christmas season brings if you have a part time job. It can be even harder to put in late night hours hitting the books when you have partying friends who are quick to slander you for being the dry one.
It can also be tough to dance the night away with your friends and try having a laugh when all you can think about are the incoming deadlines and exam dates. Many students also face high expectations from their parents when it comes to the Christmas exam results. The most important thing during this stressful situation is to find the work/ fun balance that you feel works best for you, regardless of what others think you should do.
The main thing to remember is that you’re the one in charge of our own happiness, and it is okay to make it a priority. Of course it can be nice to help others, but you should never place others before yourself to an extent that has a negative impact on you. Friends and family will love you even if you can’t always be there for them, as long as they know you genuinely care about them. In this dog eat dog world, nobody will get ahead unless they prioritise their own wants, and putting yourself first should be seen as a brave act and not a selfish one.