You are a person. A being. A self. How can you possibly take yourself out of any decision you make or action you take?
Another person might call you “selfish” if you don’t live up to their expectations of what they think you should do. But their frustration stems from the relative difference between what you wanted to do and what they thought you’d want to do, or what they hoped you would do. What’s more selfish than their reaction?
It’s a matter of communication, manifested through others’ expectations of you.
But really, everyone is inherently selfish.
Even when you’re doing something you “don’t want to do,” it comes from the fact you fear the punishment or repercussions that will come from not doing the “thing.” That’s what overrides the desire to NOT do it. It’s not that you’re altruistic or selfless. You’re no martyr. You’re just trading one set of undesirable outcomes for another.
Taken to an extreme, even donating a billion dollars to charity is the process of you valuing how that donation makes you feel more than the symbol of the donation itself (the money). If you donate it publicly, you get all the glory. But even if you donate it privately, you get to hold on the power and intrinsic feeling of having done right.
Everyone seems so afraid of being called selfish, as if it’s the ultimate insult. But maybe the only way to find exactly where we ought to be—in a job, relationship, friendship⏤is not to fear being seen as selfish but to keep being your own “selfish” self until the right people understand what you’re going for and value in life.