Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Twentysomething Selfish Years

In setting the tone for my twenties, I'm forced to remember a few key aspects of my identity that are harder to change than others, namely my social anxiety and the habits that I am not yet aware of. Lately, a vaguely unfortunate confluence of events has brought me to think, question, write; wonder if my relationships are genuine and worth it; review the way I treat people and the way I am treated.

It occurred to me that we don't always receive the same amount of love that we give to the world. At first, the thought of this made me bitter: why should I waste my energy on people who don't reciprocate the effort? Again, I faced the agony of the thought that I am nobody's priority. But why should this matter? Perhaps I am too sensitive. Perhaps I care more than I should. But continuing to be thoughtful and kind is my choice, and how other people respond to that is a reflection of their character. I can only keep doing my best, even if it is not enough, even if I make mistakes.

It's a contradiction that's maddeningly difficult to make sense of: I want to connect with more people, so I need to stop connecting with people more. My social anxiety keeps me dependent on the few people that I know well and prevents me from reaching out to meet people. I have to be comfortable maintaining distance from my close friends if I want to overcome my social anxiety and reach out to new people. I need to focus on myself in order to know others.

However, a few changes are necessary. I remind myself to make myself a priority to myself. I have a difficult time allowing myself to do this because of the echoes of voices telling me I'm selfish and ungrateful. I end up being a doormat, ready to inconvenience myself at every whim. It will take a long time to convince myself that acting in self interest and self love is not selfishness. I am allowed to take care of myself first before catering to others. I do not need to set myself on fire to keep others warm. I don't remember where I saw this but sometimes, "You can lie down for people to walk on you and they will still complain that you're not flat enough."

They say your twenties are your selfish years. I'm learning to be okay with that. It's ok to be selfish, to act in self interest, ok to say, "No," to people, even the ones I care about. I'm still learning and growing. I'm not sorry for chasing after the things I want. I'm not sure if this post makes sense. ◊

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