Putting Ourselves First

Erika is holding her hat with the Rowan logo plastered on it.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

With the life that we are given, it is easy to want to do tasks for the benefit of others. But, as we start to neglect our own well being and put ourselves last, it can start to become overbearing and dangerous. Many of us, including myself, regret giving too much of ourselves to someone else. But we can only do so much to look past that. How can we resolve ourselves to meet the expectations that we set for ourselves when we constantly keep on agreeing to meet the needs of our immediate circle and not our own?

I argue, we just simply would not be able to. That is why making these new choices and changes allows us to find direction towards our own personal as well as the direction for our purpose in life.

Erika is sitting in the discovery building with her legs crossed on a seat and smiling at the camera.
Erika is a senior psychology major from Bergen County, New Jersey.

A little less “yes” for a response in situations that require our attention can give us more time and freedom to truly discover our own needs. For many of us, there are circumstances where we have been robbed of being able to format our own experiences. For example, children can be robbed of their own childhood or even what we refer to as the “adulthood journey” because of over-governing parents who do not allow for a rational amount of freedom. For some people, they are both expected and obligated to follow in the footsteps of their parents or family members and are told to meet these expectations and not strive for their own passions.

From these different aforementioned scenarios we can see examples of someone who has not been able to put themself first for possibly their whole life. For situations that are less tricky, it can be helpful to set boundaries with the people that we have around us as it provides some leeway to know what we want out of our relationships with others. Looking at the bigger picture, by setting boundaries we are putting ourselves first while protecting our needs.

Erika is looking up from her laptop and smiling at the camera.

For those that may be unable to go against this current, I would encourage them to. We know we have put ourselves first when we are committed to finding our own interests, hobbies or even listening more to ourselves instead of being at the beck and call of another person. Author Ilene S. Cohen shares, “The only constant in life is change; so, as you age, your life will take on different forms…you will lose things that once occupied your time and gave your life meaning” (Psychology Today).

I resonate with this in a sense that my dreams have also changed. In comparison to what I originally anticipated myself to become, I no longer have aspirations to become that person. Even when it comes to reflecting on my four years of undergrad, I remember those first moments where I started keeping myself physically well and appreciating this Rowan community so much more. Because of all of these changes I strived for, I got myself involved on campus.

Erika is sitting on a set of stairs outside.

With significant experiences like this, we have a better understanding of who we are when we meet our needs outside the influence of others. Our needs are forever evolving, and we should never feel guilty for choosing ourselves before others. It is time to be a little more selfish!

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Story by:
Erika Morales Sanchez, psychology major, Wellness Center intern

Photography by:
Ashley Craven, sports communication and media major

Produced by:
Lucas Taylor, English education major