Put Yourself First

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Happy First Day of November! I hope you all had a spooooooky Halloween filled with candy and crazy costumes! (Fun fact: I dressed up as a Stressed College Student last night. I think that shows a lot about my personality…)

Anyway, as Thanksgiving and the holiday season creep up on us during this time of the year, extra emphasis is put on being thoughtful and kind to others. “Give more than you get!” they always say. But is this always the correct motto to live by? I think not. But before you start hating Teens Against Procrastination for spreading selfishness in this already cruel world, allow me to explain.

I’ll begin by admitting that I am probably the worst “People Pleaser” I have ever met. I can’t say “no” to anyone, even if I barely know the person.

Will I help you with your homework? Yes.

Will I proofread and revise to your essay? Yes.

Will I give you my spare kidney? Yes (probably).

If you’re like me, this post is dedicated to you. I’m giving us a special shout-out, since our helpfulness frequently goes unappreciated. Go us! We take pride in being considerate people!

But unfortunately, there’s a huge downside to wanting to help everyone and anyone: it’s a major time commitment. While it may seem heroic to spend so much of your waking hours benefiting society that you don’t even bother taking care of yourself, RESIST THE URGE. At least once in a while, help yourself.

Take me for example. Today, I had a fantastic plan to come home from school, finish my homework and studying early, and finally get a well-deserved full night of sleep.

Did that happen? No, not at all.

This is how it went down:

As I sat down at my computer to start my homework, I decided to quickly check my inbox first. Immediately, I noticed that my teacher had sent out an email regarding material to study for our upcoming test. But then, something else caught my eye instead: a notification saying that one of my classmates had shared her college application essay with me via Google drive. The message was clear; she needed me to look over her essay and give her some last-minute suggestions for improvements, since it was due tonight. Little did I know, I would end up spending over an hour helping her polish her essay to perfection. Then, to my dismay, the same thing happened yet again. By the time I had finished “looking over” the first essay, I had received another email from a different classmate requesting help on his essay. More and more classmates started sharing their essays with me, and by the time I found a chance to glance at the clock, it was already past 11:00 PM.

Currently, I’ve still barely studied for my test, and I’m tiredly writing this blog post as the hour hand on the clock quickly approaches midnight.

This unpleasant experience has taught me a few things, though.

While I don’t entirely regret my “helpfulness”, I definitely think it fueled my procrastination…a lot. And this was an aspect of procrastination that I’ve never noticed before. Indeed, I’ve come to the realization that in many of my worst procrastination scenarios in recent years, trying to assist others had been involved.

So now, I finally understand that while trying to help others is important, I shouldn’t go overboard. If my own well-being is going to take a toll, it isn’t always worth it.

And I think that’s a lesson that most of us have to learn. Sometimes, it’s better to put ourselves first (especially when the concept of losing sleep is involved). Being able to occasionally say “no” is both a skill and a necessity.

Help yourself first, so you can become even more capable of helping others in the future. You can’t be responsible for others until you learn to be responsible for yourself. 

-Tiffany/The Procrastinating People Pleaser

13 thoughts on “Put Yourself First

  1. Completely agree!!! Take good care of yourself first, so you can better take care of others. This is not being selfish. You don’t need to apologize. If you don’t know how to say “No” once in a while, your “Yes” will be taken for granted and eventually becomes meaningless.

  2. The fact that people are seeking your helps means that you are valuable to them and that they appreciate you. So you should embrace and enjoy it as much as possible, rather than complaining about it. Having said that, I do hear what you are trying to say and feel the same pain not infrequently. Thanks for the post.

    1. There’s a huge difference between having someone truly value you as a person versus being valuable to him or her for a brief moment. Sometimes these situations can overlap; however, I’ve found that most of the time it’s simply the latter. It can be quite disheartening for people to only feel appreciated by allowing others to use them.
      Anyway, thank you for your critical comment! It’s always interesting to see the opposing viewpoint.

  3. “There’s a huge difference between having someone truly value you as a person versus being valuable to him or her for a brief moment”. This is exactly the reason I don’t agree with Lakos. It’s true that someone seeks your help means you are valuable to him or her. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she appreciates you. It’s sad, but it’s true. I agree with Iprivia, if you don’t take good care of yourself first, your effort to help others is simply not sustainable.

  4. First of all, great blog and nice discussions, once again addressing an important issue that affects our daily struggle against procrastination. I agree with both sides on this issue. On the one hand, people who are more capable like you, me and probable many others who have used this site are held to a higher standard when it comes to assuming responsibilities and helping others. We are blessed with our intellectual endowment. Helping others helps us to achieve our full potential. On the other hand, time is limited for everyone, especially procrastinators like us. So it is paramount that we frequently reassess our own situation and wellbeing while lending our helping hands to others before things are getting out of control for ourselves. Like MikeJ said “if you don’t take good care of yourself first, your effort to help other is simply not sustainable.” Thanks again for the intriguing blog.-RSM

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