One of the most important realizations of the last year of my life, this whole “who am I?” late-twenties deal that I’m sure so many young people in my generation are struggling through, has been that at a certain point in time, in order to move forward, you’ve got to give yourself permission to be selfish. You have to not let someone oblige you to spend time in a way that doesn’t really further where you want to be.
Now, what’s interesting is that at a certain point EVERYONE following the status quo and coloring inside the lines takes “me time.” But they don’t think of it like that, because they’re doing it in a way that is socially acceptable. For example, eschewing social activities to study for a big test or write their personal statement to get into grad school. Or putting off their career, school, family and friends, in order to spend several months to a year developing a romantic relationship they hope will pay dividends by turning into a marriage. Society accepts these selfish acts, mostly because they’re part of what’s familiar. And society also understands when they typically begin and end and that they have predictable, safe, outcomes.
The story changes when you are putting off school, romance, friends, family, for a passion that you hope will pay dividends. The raised eyebrows aren’t because people don’t love you, they’re not because people don’t philosophically support you, they’re b/c what you’re doing has no predictable ending, is not safe, is not familiar and makes them uncomfortable. Therefore, you’re likely to get some flak for not spending enough time with your family, with your friends, with lovers, or in any other activity that is safe. This is likely to cause in you feelings of guilt, insecurity, fear of ostracism, etc. DON’T LET IT!
Give yourself permission to be selfish, and don’t forget that it’s part of the natural course of life as an adult. Just b/c what your’e doing to get ahead isn’t what everyone else is does not mean you are doing something wrong.