I saw this hashtag as I was driving around Winter Park the other day. I’m not sure of its original meaning; for me, it was a clear statement of self-care. So often we have a hard time choosing ourselves, putting ourselves first. If you grew up in a house with good morals and Christian values, you may have subliminally been taught that you shouldn’t put yourself first, that you should put others first.

I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t be caring for others, but I do have something to say about always putting others first. If you put others first to the extent that you completely drain yourself, then you are no good to anyone. It’s a hard reality to acknowledge, but it’s true.

So often I don’t say “No” when I need to. I don’t set boundaries so that I can stay healthy. I don’t take time to pause and think about my own needs. Heck, I often wait until the final moment to use the restroom because I have other things to get done. It’s crazy that I don’t even stop to get my basic needs met! I often exhaust myself to the extent that I’ve done damage to myself and I’m no good to my family and friends. I do it all from a place that seems good and feels right, but ultimately it leads to my own destruction.

Many people across the country have fireplaces. They burn them to stay warm. A fire meets a need for those close to it. However, if that fire is left to burn without anyone tending it, it will quickly burn out. A fire needs to be continually fed wood in order to continue to bring warmth to those around it. Left unattended, a fire will burn out and all the heat will be gone. The same is true for you. You bring value and warmth to others, but if you stop paying attention to your own needs, you too will burn out. If you give and give and give of yourself, but never refill, you will be left in ashes.

It’s time for me to choose me. It’s time for you to choose you. It’s time to look at the big picture. If I want to be helpful, if I want to be a person who’s capable of thinking of others before myself, then there have to be times when I put myself first. There have to be times that I choose me, that I choose to ask myself, “What do I need? What feeds me? Who do I allow to pour into me?" This might go against everything that you’ve been taught, saying “No” to helping someone else to allow yourself some time to spend on yourself. In the long-term, it’s the healthier choice.

There are times when you just have to put yourself first. No, I’m not saying you should always put yourself first. What I am saying is that you have to take care of yourself or you will be left in ashes. Today, I encourage you to choose you… #IChooseMe