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It’s Not Selfish to Do What You Love

Mother and daughterA few weeks ago, I came across a tweet from @gaurav_sehdev that I liked enough to share:

Sometimes it is fine to focus on your own needs, even if it feels selfish.

Several people favorited that tweet. Women especially need to be reminded that it’s okay to put yourself first.

Caregiving is part of our identity as women, and that’s wonderful. We’re integral to the success of our families and the health of our communities. The trouble comes when we get into a mindset that our personal needs are secondary to those of others.

At certain times in our lives, caregiver is our most important role—when we have a new baby, or when a parent or spouse is seriously ill. But during our ordinary, day-to-day lives, we have to fight to make sure we don’t let other people’s needs overwhelm our own.

At the 2013 national conference of the Romance Writers of America, bestselling author Bella Andre was asked how she balances her family and career. Her answer (I’m paraphrasing) was both surprising and brilliant:

Balance is overrated. It’s just one more thing women are expected to do. Kids benefit from seeing mom do amazing things.

If your kids know at their core that you would lay down your life for them, then you’re a good mom. It doesn’t matter that laundry is piling up and you’ve ordered takeout every night this week because you’re on a deadline. Your kids still know you love them. Besides, you’re teaching them how to set priorities: Laundry becomes a priority when someone in the household has no clean underwear left. Up until that point, doing laundry is optional.

When your kids see you accomplish great things, they learn they can accomplish great things, too. When you become a slave to other people’s expectations, you teach your daughters to do the same.

If you’re an author, one way you care for your family is by writing and generating an income. If you’re not published yet, you’re undergoing an apprenticeship and creating a product so you can make money in the future.

Men don’t feel selfish when they’re providing for their families. Neither should you. Writing is an art, but it’s also a profession. Never feel guilty about the time and effort you put into your profession just because you happen to love what you do.

Do you ever fall into the trap of feeling guilty when you do something meaningful for yourself? How do you overcome it?

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