It's okay to be selfish

Us millennials are constantly berated for being self-obsessed, narcissistic, and vain. We take too many selfies, spend too much time on social media, and too much money on Starbucks. But hey, we’re also highly educated, self-motivated, confident, and driven by future goals.

Let’s face it, the times have changed and a lot of us simply aren’t ready to settle down with a spouse and kids. Instead, we’re working our asses off in entry-level (if we’re lucky) jobs, traveling abroad, and getting to know ourselves.

Quite frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that. Yes, we’re young and constantly struggling to find ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we’re selfish. In fact, focusing on finding ourselves right now is exactly what we need to be doing.

Here’s why:

Discovering ourselves is how we grow. Making individual decisions and taking much-needed alone time is a part of growing up. Most of us don’t aspire to live in our hometowns forever, and with sought-after jobs so scarce, many of us are leaving friends and family behind to pursue careers in new cities.

Finding our dream job is as simple as perusing the job boards online, but taking advantage of opportunities when they arrive sometimes means moving states (or even oceans) away. For a lot of us, these major life changes are just a part of growing and experiencing the world in ways that those before us never had the opportunity to.

Our behavior hasn’t changed, but the times have. In Samantha Raphelson’s article “Getting Some ‘Me’ Time: Why Millenials Are So Individualistic she explains that young people today are holding off on many of the things that our parents and grandparents were doing in their early twenties, like getting married and having children.

The things that used to signify entry into adulthood don’t necessarily translate to us now. But just because we aren’t having kids right after graduating doesn’t mean we’re not adults.

Raphelson also mentions in her article, “The 2014 Clark Established Adult Poll found that the top three markers for adulthood were accepting responsibility for self, financial independence and making independent decisions.”

Think our spontaneous decisions to move cross-country and work three restaurant jobs are silly? Still dissatisfied with those of us whom stay home and clutter the office with our youthful energy? We might not be married, but we are taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions, and we’re working hard to pay our student loans in the process.

We must be happy with ourselves before we can expect anyone else to be. The key thing to remember is that happiness is a choice, and we must find ways to make ourselves happy. Sometimes the things that drive our happiness may seem selfish, but we need to remember that we can’t expect to make others happy if we aren’t content with ourselves.

Moving off to college may seem selfish to us at first because we’re neglecting responsibilities at home and leaving family to reap the benefits of higher education, but in reality, taking the time to better ourselves will be better for everyone who loves us, too. The same rule applies throughout life, no matter where it takes us.

Society tells us that if we focus too much on ourselves, that we are “self absorbed.” In reality, focusing on our own happiness is one of the best things we can do for the ones we love. By focusing on the things that bring us joy, we can become more positive and joyous, and have the energy to share this happiness with others.

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