When you fly, the first thing you encounter is the Safety Speech.  Exits there and there, lifejacket under the seat, oxygen mask above.  And please put on your own mask before assisting other passengers.

For most of my life I've been putting on the other passenger's masks first.

I think perhaps it stems from my Christian upbringing (I'm not faulting it, merely observing).  There's a distinct servant-ministry thought pattern underlying all Christian actions.  Serve others before yourself, put others first, turn the other cheek, wash their feet.  All good intentions, but it's ingrained at times to a point of self-detriment.  More so if you're the "weaker sex", who is subject to the Biblical interpretations of "submit yourself to your husband" and other random verses that give clear advantage to males, husband or not.

Add in a set-in-stone patriarchial society.  From day one as an employee in a male-dominated work environment, I very quickly realized that women are still in a "seen, not heard" position.  Opinions don't matter, pay is lower, and how dare you attempt to change anything!  Instead, your place should be in the kitchen - but we'll tolerate you in the workplace as a secretary or something if you don't make any waves... In the meantime, there's the kettle - go make coffee.

Even in my mid-40s, as owner of two companies, many customers will ask to speak to the men and ignore me.  I even recently had a female customer call in a male to check my work...

These factors have probably built up the habit of putting on other people's masks first I mentioned above.  I find myself giving up my own comfort, my own opinions, my own plans so that others can go first.  I spent many years basically starving myself so the rest of the household could eat when times were tough.  And it's a mentality that is very very hard to shake.

But something changed recently... 

I caught myself reading about an old friend's ambitions online and wondering how I could help to make them happen.

And then I realized that they're old enough to bloody well make their own dreams happen. 

For that matter, I've been helping too many people make things happen over the years and in the process I'm shrivelling up, losing out, weaing out.

It's time to become just a bit more selfish.  To get my own oxygen before I give it away to others.

Will it change overnight?  No.  Will I still spend a lot of time being a people-pleaser?  Probably.

But it's a start.