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selfish needs a rebrand

natasha mascarenhas
natasha mascarenhas
hi! for over two years, i’ve been writing a semi-regular newsletter on substack called too wordy. think of it as the place where i decompress and try to make people feel heard. per some savvy folks, i’m slowly migrating my too wordy community to twitter/revue since this is where most of my audience reads me. for now, i’ll cross post but eventually i’ll only publish too wordy on here. okay, now for my latest.

selfish needs a rebrand
selfish has always felt like a bad word, seemingly reserved solely for narcissistic people who lack empathy, awareness and the ability to have any close relationships. but, as i learn to prioritize myself more, can we get a more positive synonym for it?
independence feels separate, greedy feels harsh and opportunistic feels tangential. i want a word that describes what it is like to indulge in yourself, knowingly and unsparingly.
i think part of your mid 20s is learning that there’s a way to be selfish without actually being selfish. you can move across the country and also miss living with your parents. you can choose to prioritize yoga over a networking event and still be great at your job. you can want to be spontaneous, and also care about tradition. you can prioritize what you want to do on a sunday morning, not defend it, and still keep all of your friends. you can pick yourself, time and time again, and still be a deeply generous, empathetic person who shows up for your community.
if you’re like me, these simple realities were not obvious for a long time. i always looked at life as a cost benefit analysis, often skipping my alone time as a cost to benefit the lovely people around me. through this pandemic, the analysis turned into a calculation. social distancing was hell. i spent most of my hours thinking about how much my forced long distance friends were feeling emotionally far away, and struggled with missing plans that others felt comfortable with due to the virus. i was textbook anxious, realizing i’m too bad at math to be calculating and ranking every risk in my life.
while the fomo was real, i learned that being a ‘yes girl’ wasn’t what was keeping my friends in my life, it was my ability to show up when they need me and make them feel heard. suddenly, the corepower yoga instructor’s line from that one hungover session sophomore year of college made sense to me: show up for yourself so you can show up for others.
thanks to this, and thanks to vaccinations, today i’m back to having the privilege of choice when it comes to balancing me time and other people time. i have a new awareness that picking myself doesn’t always have to come with negative externalities. in fact, selfish feels good. it feels fulfilling. it feels much better than the connotation i have worn it with my whole life, up until now.
until next time,
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natasha mascarenhas
natasha mascarenhas

i'm a tech reporter but i also am a human, so here's a newsletter about the latter, and all the emotions, feelings, and alliteration that comes with it.

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