It’s really easy in life to live how everyone else tells you to. To end up on autopilot doing what the world expects you to do. The real challenge in life, and where you find true freedom, is to take a stand, ask yourself what you want, and then go after it. Some may call that selfish, but to me, it’s living your life.
Each of us needs a time in our lives where we are not only okay with being selfish but we embrace it. Where we lay claim to who we are and who we want to be. Learning to operate as we please helps us to foster flexibility which stimulates growth and our own personal development. Those who skip over their selfish phase miss this opportunity for personal growth.
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I always believed you “get what you settle for” and the older I get the more I find that phrase to be true. As we age, we are supposed to know ourselves better. We’re supposed to know what makes us happy and sad. What excites us and what terrifies us. We’re supposed to know what we chase so we go after it. But some of us never learn those things because we didn’t take the time to be selfish- to explore the world and our own hearts.
Related: On Free Spirits
There was a time, when I was 23, when the idea of leaving my 20s and entering my 30s terrified me. I thought people in their 30s were old and boring. I knew so many people who had turned 30 and ‘gotten boring’, but looking back, the truth was those people were boring at 22. Their age was never the issue, it was their outlook and how they approached life.
I don’t believe you have to travel to find yourself (but it does help) nor do I think you have be a selfish self-absorbed asshole in order to figure out what you want. But I do think all of us need a time in our lives where we put ourselves first in order to figure out what it is we want out of life. If it’s the big house and prestigious job, sweet. If it’s owning a bar in Bali, cool. If it’s becoming the world’s best video game player, awesome. But you only figure out what it is you want when you’ve put yourself first for a time.
If I can give one piece of advice as I leave my 20s it would be:
It’s okay to be selfish. It’s okay to put yourself first. It’s okay to go after what you want even if others don’t understand.
When I was in my early 20s, I had a giant list of things I wanted to do. Fear and the anxiety of missing something motivated me to do as many of them as I could, regardless of how difficult or crazy it seemed. Over the past decade, I’m happy to say I’ve crossed a lot of things off my bucket list. The other day a coworker asked me if I was scared to turn 30 next year. I looked her in the eye and replied as honestly as I could, “no, I’m really not”.
I was surprised how quickly the answer came and how truthful it was. I’m not scared to turn 30 because I lived the hell out of my 20s. I’m not scared to turn the page on my selfish years because I lived them as well as I could and figured out who I am and what I chase. I’m not scared to enter the phase of my life where I will be giving more than I take because I know it’s my turn.
Instead of going into the next chapter of my life with dread thinking about on all the things I haven’t done, I enter it knowing what I want while also being able to look back on countless memories I cherish.
In the end, if you do your selfish years right they will give you perspective and peace of mind and I can’t think of a better birthday present.