I’m very selfish.
Some of you might think that statement odd, but it’s true. I’m selfish with my time and energy. I’ve learned to prioritize myself and my goals when it comes down to how I spend my time. After all, that’s one of our most precious gifts.
But I didn’t always used to be this way.
When I graduated college in 2013, I had all this free time on my hands. No more studying, sorority meetings or activities, 8 am classes, etc. I was taking a break (read: I had no clue what I was doing with my life), so I moved back in with my parents and bartended at the local country club, where my brother was the manager.
I was back in my hometown with friends and family, and I didn’t want to miss a thing. I had a bad case of FOMO, seriously, which meant I said YES to everything. IHOP at 3 in the morning? Yes. Stay after work for drinks? Yes. Shopping during my one day off? YES. Okay, let’s be honest, I never minded that last one!
As time went by, I started picking up more shifts and even waitressing when the other bartender came in. I did everything I could to busy myself because I felt like I had missed out on things when I was in high school and college – I was making up for lost time.
Eventually, though, I got a job at a bank. I had early mornings and set hours, and I couldn’t continue all the late nights. I couldn’t be everywhere like I could before. When I was bartending, I worked a lot, but I also had a more flexible schedule – but not anymore.
This also forced me to acknowledge that no matter how much fun I was having before and even after I started working at the bank, I felt lost.
I had no balance of fun and personal growth.
I felt like I was just floating around like a leaf in the wind, letting life take me in any direction without my control. I didn’t have a plan. No goal to work towards besides just waking up in the morning and making it through the day. It got to the point where I was just going through the motions. To the point where my then boyfriend (now husband) was concerned.
See, here was the thing. Even with my job at the bank, I never felt like that’s where I belonged. I always felt it was temporary. That I would leave at some point and do something else. Something I’m passionate about. Something long-term.
I started focusing more on myself and what I wanted out of life instead of what everyone else was up to. That’s when I decided to go after the writing thing – when I stopped for a moment and looked inward.
When I silenced the noise to listen to my mind and heart.
I still saw my family and friends, but I started putting myself first. If I was going to get my master’s, I had to make time to study. If I was going to write, I had to make time to work on my writing. That meant I couldn’t make every trip to the mall or movie night. It meant I had to work around a schedule that I set for myself.
It meant I had to find that balance between family/friend time and me time.
No one else was going to do it for me. No one else was going to hold me accountable. As I said before, I had to be disciplined and realize that my schedule was for me to reach my goals.
It felt good to finally have a purpose and focus on doing what made me happy, while also being there for others. It’s about compromise and making sure not to compromise my own personal health and happiness each and every time.
Nowadays, I’m perhaps even more selfish with my time than ever before. With a full-time job and my book coming out this October (YAY!), I have so much to do in order to get ready. It’s important to me to have a release that’s as successful as possible. No, I can’t control everything, but I want to at least be able to say that I put my best forward.
And all that takes time. It takes energy. It takes focus.
I can’t do my best if I’m constantly worrying about missing happy hour or the latest Netflix obsession. Of course, I also think having a social life and taking a breather is super important for my sanity, but I no longer go overboard to where I have no time left for myself.
People may not always understand it. They might think, “Oh, you can write anywhere at any time, so do it later,” and “Oh, you worked on that yesterday, so you don’t need to do that today too.” And that’s okay, but in my experience, if you listen to them all and let them drag you away from your goals every single time, you won’t get much done.
Take a break from time to time, of course. But don’t constantly prioritize others. Find a time that works for you both. Otherwise, you’re only hurting yourself. Take it from a certified YES MAN, it’s okay to say NO. It’s very important to say no.
Put yourself first sometimes. Be selfish with your time and energy.
Prioritizing yourself can be hard. You don’t want to miss out, and you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t miss the things that truly make you happy, but don’t get sucked into all the noise. Into all the things that keep you from accomplishing the things you find important.
Being selfish in this way is so hard. If you’re like me, you’ll worry about offending people when you decline. You’ll worry that you’re missing the latest inside joke. But if you find that balance between being social and being selfish – it’ll be so worth it. It can be the difference between feeling indefinitely lost in this world, and reaching your goals and fulfilling your purpose.