“ /adjective

(of a person, action or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”

I feel like we need to either find an alternative word for selfish or redefine what it means – or I need to study a bit more on my english, maybe there is one that I don’t know. I’m positive though there is no alternative in Turkish to that word. So one way or another, one of those languages needs an edit [smiling at myself right now]

As a kid, you are always told what to do, what is right & wrong, how to behave, what to eat, when to talk or shut up, which is supposed to be part of learning.Especially in Turkish culture when you are surrounded by people older than you, a lot of those things are matter of respect. Plus if your dad was in the military  your do’s and dont’s list are a bit longer because of the territory that military families live within. You always feel like you have to be super controlled, what you say, how you say or how to behave -which was my observation of my mom and her friends as the military wives. Hear this : when the wives got together outside the business occasions, those ladies needs to sit in order based on their husbands title because thats a matter of respect to the “first lady” who is the most senior wife. Until I was fifteen my life was all about observing that craziness, sometimes funny to watch and sometimes extremely boring.Even as a kid some rules apply. Like you need to clean your plate if you are invited to someones house for the afternoon tea as a matter of respect or it’s rude to ask for more on the things you like unless you have been asked. Thank god, My dad was still super chill and relaxed as a soldier so outside the official gatherings we didn’t have much rules.

One thing that was kind of coded in my brain though- in conjunction of my culture and the military influence- was being “selfish” is not a good thing. Sometimes you need to say yes for the sake of what others want or what rules say. If you don’t wanna play with that other kid, it is not nice since her mom is gonna feel sad, so you better find a way to make it work. If you don’t wanna go to the family gatherings that you get super duper bored, you can’t stay at home since you parents will be worried. And the list goes on and on.. On one side, it strengths a muscle and forces you to become more flexible and adaptable  [you better find a way to enjoy your time with the kid you don’t wanna hang out.] but on the other side it makes you super uncomfortable.With that invisible pressure, you sometimes convince yourself that it is what you want or enjoy. Trust me in that environment you don’t want to be the selfish kid.

Thanks to my dad, he didn’t want to spend his entire life as a soldier, he was a little too creative for that – and retired when I was fifteen. Couldn’t be any better timing than that. As a teenager when you are in the middle of establishing who you want to be, and not having those boundaries like it was before, was an refreshing feeling but at the same time makes you panic since there is no path to follow. Maybe that was a reaction to all what I have been observing over the years in my childhood, I didn’t want to be that woman in my life who is told what to do. And wanted to test what it means to be the selfish one. Not sure what I was experimenting with my parent is how I defined selfish at that time but for some reason I had the courage to say NO to things I don’t want. Yeah I don’t wanna go and hang out with boring kids or I want to stay at home and listen music instead of visiting some super far relatives, or don’t want to eat certain things in the table. [My mom didn’t like them at all] I was breaking the rule of “family moves as a pack” a little. [I know thats soooooo Turkish.] At the same time, I started saying what I really feel or think vs trying to be nice. Sometimes I have been told crazy, sometimes rude, never disrespectful but always straight to the point.The more I adapt that behavior, the less I got afraid of saying NO. [Might have said a bit too much until people around me accepted who I am though, I have to admit] Like every kid does, I think I was trying to test the boundaries of my family and close friends while trying to find my tone without being rude or disrespectful to their opinions. And when reacted to my no’s, I was immediately admitting that it’s selfish part of me which was a fun excuse and shocking for most of the people since no one wanted to be that selfish one. But I have a theory for that. Wanna hear this?

I believe that we all are selfish for some capacity and we really should be. Because without putting yourself first, I don’t think there is a way to be happy in this world. What you want and what you don’t want need to light your way and everything else follows. Which one day I had a super honest heart to heart conversation with my mom. She was getting ready for a visit from some long distance relatives that she was about to host and was definitely not happy about it and was stressing herself so much. I asked her why she said yes to my dad to host them at home since they could easily take them out for dinner with no work to my mom. She said “sometimes you need to do things for the other person.”

I was not convinced with that answer and started digging. What it means doing something you clearly hate right now to make other person happy, that doesn’t sound right. The more we talked, the more I was collecting insights. An voila! It’s really not about the other person like we think it is. It’s really about us and our own happiness so technically she was  putting herself first and going through the light pain temporarily.

She said, if she doesn’t host them at home, it will hurt her reputation in the family and it will start spinning some gossips around it. Plus my dad will be upset since he loves hosting people and opening his doors to his family [his family connection is insanely strong] and when he gets upset, it will impact their peace at home and honestly she said ” I don’t wanna deal with drama” YESSSSS that’s it! It’s really about you mom.And she smiles:)

So to me being selfish -or whatever the other word is for that- is not a bad thing. It’s about having the freedom to be ourselves and protect our souls. It’s a path of learning about yourself, understanding your limits and sharing them with other people which at the end of the day is gonna make us all happy:)

BTW, If you have another word for that, share with me. I will appreciate your contribution to my second language vocabulary pool:P

Happy sunday

Ayca Xxxx


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