There is a great misconception in society today, a divide between honouring our individual needs, and respecting our community. The message to go after your goals, to say ‘fuck you’ to people who are standing in your way, or to “the man” trying to keep you down—that message is good, that message is necessary: Learn who you are as an individual, have confidence in that person, and work diligently to bring forth into the world the you you were always meant to be. There are people who try to change us, and we need to resist. There are voices that try to contain us, and we need to avoid containment. The message “put your individual needs first” is about taking care of yourself in a kind and gentle way, taking care of your soul, so that you can then go out and take care of the world. Give to yourself so that you can then give back to the world (the world in your home, in your town, in your community, and globally).
I feel like people are only hearing half of the message. They hear the “take care of yourself,” and they begin to approach the world with an individual entitlement, like they should be served rather than serve, are owed rather than owe. This kind of individualism is selfish and self-centered, it says “the world owes me” rather than “how can I help the world.” They hear, “the world is my oyster” and respond with “gimme, gimme, gimme,” rather than, “the world is my oyster, I can harvest and reap and still have more to give.” We’ve become a society of people that only want to think about our own needs and comfort. We don’t want our feelings hurt, we don’t want to be made to do things we don’t want to do, even if it is for the betterment of the whole (see: wearing a goddamn mask during a global pandemic). We feel entitled to having every last one of our wants and needs met, whether or not we’ve worked for it, whether or not we’ve earned it, whether or not we’re good people trying our best.
The real truth is that by honouring yourself you are actually setting yourself up to serve others in a true and conscious way. By individuating yourself, by separating your self from the whole of our collective selves in a narcissistic way, nobody gets what they want or need, not even yourself (see: the story of Narcissus).
Know this: You are entitled to nothing. You are owed nothing. You have the absolute right to go after your goals and have your voice heard, you do not have the right to bring others down to whatever level you’re on. You have a responsibility to give back to the world, to keep it moving round for future generations. Nobody lies on their death bed saying, “I’m glad I won that battle over not wearing a mask at Walmart, bitches.” But they can on their death bed say, I lived the best self I could, I accomplished as many goals as I could, and I left something good for the world to come.
Be yourself. Fulfill your needs. So that you can go on to respect and fulfill the needs of others. That’s called humanity. We all have to do our part.