It’s ok to be selfish

Sarah's mum Prue with Jack Sarah's mum Prue with Jack

I think the great Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas in the classic movie Wall Street, summed it up best when he said:

“The point is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”

I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts lately from a wide variety of sources and there are two common themes that really stand out to me:

1. We’re selfish (or greedy as Gordon put it) for leaving everything and everyone behind to go travelling, and;

2. We’re trying to escape reality.

Whenever I read about greed, or selfishness, or any other name people want to label those who make the courageous decision to sell everything they own to explore the world, I get a little bit annoyed. Not because people label travellers selfish, but because it’s considered a bad thing!

As far as I’m concerned, if I’m going to lead the life I want, and do all of the things I want to do, then I must be selfish about it. I’m not talking about being so selfish that other peoples’ lives are irreparably damaged, after all we know the difference between right and wrong. I’m talking about the kind of selfish where I make life decisions that are in the best interests of me and my family. These decisions may not be liked by family, friends and whoever else it may impact upon, and it may even cause some short term pain, but they allow me to live my life to the fullest.

There are two clear examples of selfishness on our part since we made the decision to live this nomadic lifestyle for the foreseeable future.

Giving up our dog Five (that’s her name)

She was a wedding gift from one of my closest friends over four years ago. We’ve had her since she was five weeks old and she had become an integral, much loved member of our family. You hear all the stories about how ‘a puppy isn’t just for Christmas’, and although we had her for a lot longer than that, in the end we still gave her up. I know my friend is upset and I don’t blame him. I could hardly bring myself to tell him we were leaving, and as such giving Five up, because I knew how it would make him feel, and that hurt me too.  But once we’d made the decision to go travelling we knew we couldn’t take her with us. We had to reconcile that reality in our heads. The best we could do was find the perfect home for her, which luckily we did – 10,000 square metres of land, 4 kids, dog loving parents and a dog beach and park close by. She’s hit the lottery, she’s in dog heaven, I doubt she even remembers who we are! However that doesn’t erase the fact we have given up our dog. That’s tough, and it’s also selfish. Sarah shed a lot of tears in the weeks and days leading up to the handover, and we were constantly questioning whether we were doing the right thing. But at the end of the day, our dream is to go travelling, and we are going to do everything we need to do to make that happen.

We’re taking Jack away from his grandparents

Jack is almost two and this is about the time when grandparents are absolutely besotted by their grandchildren, and our parents (especially our mothers) are crazy for Jack. But we’ve decided to take Jack away from them at this time…that’s selfish. There’s no denying it but they’ve been very understanding of our needs and  unconditionally supportive. Sure we’ll use Skype, phone calls, email, Facebook, etc., to keep in touch, but it’s not quite the same is it. However, once we’d made the decision to go we knew our mothers weren’t going to be thrilled with our plans. My mum lives in Tasmania and will be here in Melbourne the weekend before we leave which is great. Sarah’s mum will also be around that weekend, but she can’t bring herself to see us off at the airport because she’ll be too emotional. My mum has no choice because her flight back to Tasmania is around the same time as our departure flight. But at the end of the day, our dream is to go travelling, and we are going to do everything we need to do to make that happen.

Can you imagine living a life where every decision you make is based on how it would make someone else feel? Imagine never putting your own needs first, what sort of life would that be? I know I could never live like that. Sometimes putting your own needs first has effects on others, and depending on your definition, can be considered selfish. But for me, I’m willing to be called selfish if the bi-product of that selfishness means I get to live my life to the fullest. I can live with that, and I certainly won’t be losing any sleep over it.

And next time someone calls you selfish for chasing your dreams, you shouldn’t lose any sleep over it either.

Has anyone given you grief for making the decision to go travelling? Tell us about it in the comments below.

4 Comments on It’s ok to be selfish

  1. I love the post. Very inspiring and I can relate to it. I always put my friends and family first, but it’s ok to be selfish and take care of myself. If I am happy, everyone else will be.

    • Thanks Agness, I just got a little bit annoyed at reading about travellers being called selfish, and defending themselves. I say you don’t need to defend yourself, because it’s ok to be selfish some times!

  2. Nick Lovering // April 7, 2014 at 9:37 pm //

    What is possession!? Exclamation and question mark please. Who tells us possession is good. Does possession mean greed? Can people be greedy when it comes to feelings and not just money? Just do. If you sense a need to travel and can act on it, you are blessed. Blessed because there are probably 5.5 billion people who couldn’t do it. Keep writing Couchy.

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