I've realized that living selfishly helps no one but me, and I want to do everything within my power to make a difference in the lives of the ones I love, even if I have to make many sacrifices along the way.
Giving selflessly is not for everyone. I know that all too well. The sacrifices that are required to be a true friend in need and a truly selfless partner are not easy to make, and it can take a lot out of you. It hasn't been easy, giving my heart and soul to the people I love, often leaving me with very little for myself. But it's been worth it. When I see the smile on your face after a particularly tiring day, it motivates me to keep going. The joy in the eyes of the people I work hard to help cannot be replaced by any material possession or professional achievement. And the satisfaction that comes from making a difference in the lives of those I love is more inspiring than a fat paycheck. You see, it's because I've learned to give even when it hurts, and that's what makes the reward so much sweeter.
It is a noble thing indeed to prioritize your needs and ensure that you are taken care of before you decide to help the world. There is truth in the notion that the people who spread the most happiness are those who are happy themselves. After all, how can you help other people if you don't know how to help yourself? But to most of the people I know, being able to prioritize yourself is a luxury.
Life isn't a bed of roses for a lot of us, and being there to support each other even when it means I don't get to do what I want is far more fulfilling and meaningful. I don't deny that I may have a few regrets later on in life, wishing that I had done everything I wanted to. But I can't imagine dealing with the regret of not being there for the people I love in their times of dire need because I valued my comfort over their pain.
The importance of being able to say "No" is understated, and that's a skill that everyone needs to learn to cultivate. When you are asked to help someone beyond your ability, or when someone asks you to do a potentially unethical favor for them, you definitely need to refuse them firmly and politely. But not all requests for help are unreasonable or stretch you beyond your ability or violate your standards, and I know that even a little help goes a long way, even when I feel emotionally exhausted.
I may not be able to finance an ailing friend's treatment, but I can visit them with a meal or look after them as they recover. Even the least help I can offer can make a difference, so I push myself to contribute, even when I feel like curling up in a ball and shutting the world out. I can mow someone's lawn, babysit their kids for a few hours, or even hold them as they weep. It doesn't take a lot to be there for people, which is why I'm willing to keep going even when I feel like giving up.
Sometimes it's easy to limit yourself to what is expected of you, instead of what you're actually capable of. Most people only ask you for the least of what they truly need, hoping that they'll somehow make it through the rest of their struggles on their own. When you give only what you're asked to give, you may often miss hidden needs that people are hesitant to communicate.
That's why I never assume what people need from me. I am willing to work hard and be there for my loved ones no matter what, offering my support beyond what is asked of me because I know that I'd be grateful if someone did the same thing in return. I don't wait to be told how much to give and what is adequate or enough because I know that people's needs cannot be so easily quantified.
Not everyone is up to do people favors all the time, and not everyone has the motivation to be there for their loved ones in their time of need. You may choose to sit back and relax once you know that someone else is taking care of things. And it's perfectly alright to take a step back and save your energy if you're not entirely comfortable with going out of your way for someone else.
But I know that I could never forgive myself for never doing my best to show the ones I love that I care for them. I want them to know that they can always count on me to be there for them no matter what they're going through. And even when they aren't in need, I put in the effort and do my best to let them know that they are valued and appreciated. Life is too short to live it selfishly. If I can make an impact by loving people the way they deserve to be loved, I won't pass up on that opportunity.