The Virtue of Being Selfish

I’m getting ready to say “no” to a worthy cause.

At the end of the month, my church will hold its annual meeting and elect three new members to the vestry. It’s been made clear to me that it would be appreciated if I were to stand for one of the terms. They say it won’t take much of my time, merely a couple of hours a month — and maybe a few more hours if I’m given a job. (My husband had been on the vestry; I have an excellent idea just how much time it takes.) They speak of the good of the congregation, how my gifts are needed, and perhaps they are.

Problem is, I’m going to be selfish.

There was a time, a decade ago, when I realized I’d filled my life with so much noise and so many things they were crowding out everything else. I started to say no to things, creating space where I could re-order my priorities and found myself met with charges of being “selfish.” I wasn’t thinking of others, I was told. The group needed me and how could I decide I needed to refuse to add more stuff to my plate just so I could find time to write?

I felt guilty the first time the charge was leveled. The second, annoyed. The third is when I got angry. Who was deciding my priorities, me or other people? I decided the answer was “me” and I learned to embrace the word “selfish.” Sometimes we need to be selfish, protective of ourselves and our work. If we aren’t, who will be?

That’s where I am now. After two years in which my main focuses were a) keeping my husband sane while he was dealing with his mother’s illness and b) keeping my head above water at work, I now have more free time — and people who know how I should fill that time. It’d be easy to fill it with noise and activities, but if I truly want to focus on my writing, I have to be protective of my energies. And that means when the direct question, “Will you stand?” comes, I’m going to be selfish and say no. 2011 is for writing; I’ve made that commitment to myself and I have no intention of blowing it before the first week of the year is done.

Of course, it will be interesting to see if the powers that be actually come to speak with me directly or if they’re hoping that by telling the husband how much I’m needed, he’ll convince me that I need to do this even I don’t think it’s a good idea. Since the date for announcing the candidates is fast approaching, I’m starting to thin the latter. Maybe I can just wait them out…

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By the way, the icons I’m using are designed by the lovely and talented Eyesthatslay and are from her website Captured Memories. Take a look; she does beautiful work.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Beth Ciotta

    Caro, I applaud your courage and strength. I, too, find it hard to say ‘no’, but I’m learning that I feel better (less stressed overall) when I do. Hang tough! 😉

    Also, thank you for chiming in at THE YEAR OF ME. I just added you (and your blog link) as a Co-ME! Someone who’s working hard to make 2011 a healthier, happier year for YOU. Come back and fill us in on how you’re doing so we can cheer you on.
    Have a great day! – Beth

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