Book Review: Me First: A Deliciously Selfish Take on Life
Book Reviewed by Carol Taylor
Women have always been taught to put themselves last, that it’s selfish to put themselves first. Have you ever thought about what your life would be like if it revolved around you, your wants and your needs? This is the thought-provoking question Me First asks.
“When most women are faced with the tough choice of them or me, we usually choose them. They—our children, partner, family, boss, or friends—need us more than we need ourselves. As a result, our wants, needs and desires become secondary. The reasons we choose them over us are many. It may be fear, guilt, lack of self-worth, feeling undeserving of having our needs met, or at a very basic level, disbelieve that we have the right to be happy or fulfilled in our own lives.”
Part memoir, part self-help, Me First is unapologetic in its message that women should live life on their own terms and uses examples from Mason’s own life to empower women to consider their “happily ever after” even if it’s not a traditional path. Instead of subscribing to someone else’s idea of happiness, Me First suggests women write their own script of happiness, love, and success and offers tools called “Kick Starters” to help accomplish it: For instance, taking inventory of your life, identify negative messages, releasing the past, and how to do something good . . . for yourself.
At the heart of Me First is the belief that you, above all, deserve to be happy and fulfilled and that by making yourself the number one priority in your life you will become smarter and more strategic about your relationships, career, health, and finances. Although not a revolutionary concept, (highly successful people have been doing this for centuries) the idea of (black) women adopting it certainly is. “Before making any big decision such as getting into a relationship or choosing a career path—you will start with the most important question: What do I want? The second question is: How does this decision, action, or choice benefit me directly? If it’s not what you want or does not benefit you directly, don’t do it.” The idea of being “selfish and thinking of yourself first” especially if you are a woman, runs counter to the advice given to most women, especially black women. Men do this all the time and are even taught at a young age to do so. For me this is the strongest and most salable point in the book and what sets it apart from all the other “how to be happy and successful” books out there.
Mason’s writing is straightforward and inspiring, with a down-to-earth tone that is neither condescending nor preachy. Although, at times, the reader’s letters, and “Delish-isms” sprinkled throughout threatened to dilute the core message; I wish I’d read this book years ago when I used to think that “selfless” behavior was always better than “selfish” behavior. What I didn’t understand was that constantly doing for others took away from me, and my happiness. I think Me First offers a happy medium, and I like its fresh approach.