Altruism is for Suckers – Part Deux

I wrote this entry a while back but never posted it. I don’t know why I didn’t post it… perhaps it sounded a bit more cynical than I was actually feeling. Regardless, I don’t make it a habit of not posting something just because it’s cynical, so here it is.


They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and isn’t it so? If I had a dime for every thing I’ve done in my life with good intentions that backfired for one reason or another, I could purchase Europe. All of it. I’m the kind of person who tries to do right, tries to protect people I care about… and I’ll do that to my own detriment. If I have a friend who’s struggling to make it, I’ll buy them groceries, even if it means I won’t be able to afford them for myself. Does that make me a dumbass? Certainly it does. Am I going to be thanked for my sacrifice? Not likely, and will it really matter if I starve to death? No.

So why do I behave that way?

That’s the big question. And I think part of the answer is my parents. Both of my parents try to put what their kids needs are above their own. Hopefully we as their children do what’s right and show appreciation for the sacrifice, and do what we can to even the score.

Why do I always agree to “take the hit”? Why do I think that it’s going to be productive to do something to my own detriment? When am I going to learn that it’s never appreciated, and often causes even bigger problems? It’s like giving away your food, and right before you starve to death, the person you gave the food to comes by and complains about the bananas being too green.

The reason I always agree to take the hit is complicated, yet strangely simple. I lack the confidence and self-respect to ask for my needs to be considered. For me to put my needs ahead of someone else’s is to say I’m better than them… and I know that I’m not. I should be generous with people because if I’m not, they might notice what a worthless piece of dirt I am. Learning to value oneself is not a skill that can be taught in a classroom, nor can it be instilled through counseling or psychiatry.

Over and over and over and over I keep trying the same worn-out “altruistic” thing that never never never works, and I’m always surprised when it turns out in some unexpected and ugly fashion. People always tell me “Incredipete, your altruism is your best quality, why would you want to give that up?”

I reject your reality.

Altruism is only a good quality for everyone else. It’s never a good quality for yourself. It’s easy to stand there and tell me I should “keep it up, big guy.”

Am I perfect? Not a bit. Am I trying really hard to be? You bet. Do people give me a second chance? I’ll believe it when I see it, but if history is any indicator, the answer is… not likely. I get more than my fair share of being taken advantage of. Yes, I know I shouldn’t end sentences with a preposition. More than my fair share. No one said life is fair, and I accept that. Maybe I take people for granted more than I should, and the cosmos is trying to tell me something.

So, it’s time I start practicing what I’m shoveling here. I’m hanging up my altruism hat, and I’m looking out for numero uno. I said that once before, but I didn’t actually do it. So here I go again. I’m going to make every effort to put my needs above those of everyone else. That’s what everyone else does, why not me? I don’t exist for the benefit of others. I’m not going to be spit on for my generosity ever again.

Oh, who am I kidding. I’ll never change.

Drinks are on me.


  4 comments for “Altruism is for Suckers – Part Deux

  1. Team America! F- Yea!
    October 13, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    You use a noble word “Altruism” to cover your dysfunctional behavoir to make it more acceptable to you.

    The fact is, there are boundries. You need to take care of yourself, and hold others to the same standard. There is true altruism, but as you suspect, you’re not really practiceing that. You’re covering for feelings of self worth.

    Stop calling your behavior “Altruism”. Start recoginizing for it is: over compensation.

  2. October 13, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    Wise words, my friend.

  3. October 13, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    Why not give your friend half your groceries instead? That way you both can have a neighborly meal together.

  4. allie
    October 13, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    i understand where you’re coming from my super-conservative friend. guess what? i’m not a social worker anymore, cause i just couldn’t do for others all the time.

    and it’s frekin fantastic!

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