Being a hostess comes naturally to us here at Team O’a – probably at least in part because we are women. We don’t just mean “hostess” in the “let me get you a drink because I invited you to this party” way (though some of us can make a killer Manhattan). We also instinctively want to make sure people are cared for. All people. All the time.
Women, it seems, are practically born with a soul meant to put others first. Gina Barreca describes our caring tendencies quite well:
“She will offer patience, understanding, acceptance, generosity, compassion and forgiveness to everyone except herself. When the little voice inside her speaks up, it’s abrasive, cruel and dismissive. She would never say that kind of thing even to an enemy, but she’s accustomed to hearing it from herself.”
Part of our lackluster commitment to putting ourselves first may also stem from the fact that we are rarely offered a high-five when we do.
Putting others first isn’t just relegated to the public sphere. It follows us to the bedroom, too.
Here’s the rub though: prioritizing ourselves is actually good for us.
Which makes us think it’s time for some serious re-writing of our souls.
Are you already freaking out a little at that idea? Us too.
See, as a member of the Western female species, we were practically born to apologize. Bump into the heater? There’s a sorry. Clank a glass while washing the dishes? Sorry again (not sure if that’s to the glass or whoever witnessed the non-event). On some days a bad hair day is enough to make us want to beg your – and everyone else’s – pardon. (We know we are not the only ones with this proclivity.)
And putting ourselves first – even (or especially) coming first with a partner! – sounds quite a lot like something we’d want to apologize for again and again.
Which, when you really think about it, is ludicrous.
So how do we do this re-writing, and stop feeling badly about it?
Sadly, there’s no magical pill that will ameliorate our ability to prioritize ourselves. Coming first gracefully takes practice, and it will probably look different for all of us.
But we do have some ideas as to the how.
Ask yourself, “What would my best friend want for me?”
We firmly believe in role models and mentors. And best friends are just the ticket here. Whenever we find ourselves starting to wonder, “Should I cook my favorite meal or something I think someone else will like?” or “Is it okay if he goes down on me and I don’t return the favor?” We immediately follow it up with “Well, what would my best friend say?”
Best friends, as it turns out, want the best for you. Our BFFs would tell us to lay back and enjoy – that sex isn’t a zero sum game and we all deserve some pleasure. And she’d say it because we do deserve it.
Think a little bit like a man.
Oof, we hate to say it quite like that, but there’s some truth to it. Laura Argintar says it really well: “To be feminine is to be small and contained. By contrast, to exude masculinity is to recline or spread out to assert power. It’s time we learn to create space for ourselves and weave an outwardly growing web. We are owners of the street, of our bodies, of our space.” When we’re okay with taking up space, we’re more okay with our existence, and thus our happiness. Whatever gets you to that mindset, while still being you, is worth giving a go!
Don’t let that word scare you. Meditation is all about focusing inward on yourself. Close your eyes, and check in with your body, your heart, and your mind. You can do this for just a minute, or for longer periods of time (try calm.com for free, simple, guided meditations). By meditating, you’re actually practicing putting yourself first – because meditating is all about you.
However we make it happen, we have to embrace the idea that we are worth coming first.
Women learn from one another. In fact, we’re inspired by one another. And just as negative female behaviors can be passed down through generations and across social circles, so too will positive, self-loving, non-apologetic self-care.
Imagine the power of simply sharing self-love. Buy yourself flowers, post a photo of them on Instagram. When someone asks “Who gave those to you?” you get to reply, “Me!” And even better than that, you just showed your friend that it’s okay to come first.
Soon, that feeling can trickle down through the rest of our lives – including between the sheets (Or on the kitchen floor. Or on a picnic blanket under the stars. Or… Yeah – we could go on and on. You get the picture. COME FIRST!).
Prioritizing your pleasure,