There comes a time when we must learn to be selfish

I have coined a new word – selfishuality.

It’s for women just like me – women who have spent decades nurturing everything and everyone else and have awoken from this malaise of giving to realise that it’s time to prioritise themselves. Either that or die wondering what could have been?

In April, I published my fifth book, The Life List, which in part shares how I decided to design and live my best life after I lost my husband twice. The first loss was when he left our marriage of 22 years and the second, with brutal permanency, when he devastatingly succumbed to pancreatic cancer four years later.

After Dan’s death I took stock and, in a very tight little nutshell, here’s what I came up with.

I am a 50ish woman. I have worked in paid employment since I was 15. The day I turned 30 I gave birth to my first child. I had two more children in quick succession and as well as juggling my career, I was their primary carer.

For the past six years, I have been a single mum. For much of the past 23 years, I have rarely prioritised myself – in fact, I almost completely lost any sense of who I am as an individual.

All of which occurred by choice. No-one thrust this on me. I function very well in the pilot’s seat with full control of all the levers and pulleys.

My kids are now young adults and they are in the process of breaking up with me. So, it’s time to let go.

Far from being devastated by this, I could not be happier. I am financially secure. I am time affluent. I am fit and healthy. I am thriving professionally. I am self-reliant and self-assured, and somewhere along the journey my common sense and confidence and prudence and self-knowledge have allowed me to discard that part of my ego that used to care about what people think of me.

I am exactly where I need to be – which is, I am fast approaching a place of having no more f**ks to give. It’s my turn.

And so, this week I flew to Bali – solo – to revel in the wellness and spiritual capital of the Southern Hemisphere. Where better to tap into my desire to be, well – you know – ‘well’ and ‘spiritual’? Where better to start relinquishing control of all the things I can no longer control? (And still be within a day’s flight of home just in case my fledgling young adults need me. Note to self about the need to relinquish control!)

I am staying in a little apartment in the very heart of Ubud, surrounded by roosters and monkeys and motorbikes. The very air smells of incense. I have been warned not to make eye contact with the monkeys or to engage with them in any way as they can quickly turn aggressive. Noted – but I am used to this from dealing with my children.

Everyone smiles at me. No-one wants anything from me. I don’t have to talk, at all, if I don’t want to.

It only took me two days to realise that what I thought was a lofty quest for wellness and spirituality is nothing of the sort. I am not looking for my higher purpose. To engage with angels. To ascend to heights of self-awareness hitherto unknown to me.

No. No. No.

My wish to be completely on my own, to breathe, to have head space, to not have to make decisions for everyone else, to not have to continually give bits of myself away, to not have to cook for one or six people depending on who is home for dinner, to not have to hustle in my business, to not have to answer phones and emails, to not have to be up early to work and to stay up late wondering if my kids are okay, to not have to listen, to not have to engage, to not have to give and give and give – has absolutely nothing at all to do with finding myself or my spirituality or the desire to become a better person.

No, it is far more simple than that. It’s a quest to be completely alone for the first time in years. I’m calling it selfishuality.

And it’s glorious.

Have you embraced selfishuality yet? Will you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also read: Why reminiscing makes you feel so good

The Life List: Master Every Moment and Live an Audacious Life, by Kate Christie, is available for purchase here.

Kate Christie
Kate Christie
Kate is the best selling author of 5 books including 'The Life List'. She is a time management and goal setting expert, global speaker, corporate advisor and coach. With a passion for helping you master the time you have to live the life you want, Kate writes about travel, health and wellbeing, productivity, navigating the highs and lows of midlife, and how to ensure you live your absolute best life - right now.
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