The Right Kind of Selfish

Last night, a group of my friends and I were discussing our work situations. Some of us have had some really great circumstances but majority of us had horror stories ranging from: unexpected lay-offs; bullying bosses that killed our confidence; businesses closing; black balling; being unable to move up; and managers lying to us about the job description so they can pay us less. Some of us have moved on to greener pastures, while the rest of us just felt stuck. But are we really?

After that conversation, I recalled something I wrote from two years ago regarding the cut-throat business mentality that seemed to dominate the area I grew up in. I was tired of being surrounded by selfish, “Machiavellian” type people. So I decided to move out of the area in hopes of finding a more honest, down-to-earth option for a career. To my dismay, I soon discovered that I was going to deal with these scenarios everywhere. At that point, I made a choice: I would stop allowing myself to be the victim. I needed to be selfish, in the right way.

I wrote the following about this realization and the things I learned along the way:

“I decided that there was a type of selfish that was fine- being selfish of yourself. Sometimes you need to put yourself first for once, as long as it doesn’t take advantage of other people. I started to care about myself and because of that, things changed for the better. I missed so many opportunities to fulfill dreams of mine because I was too busy putting other people first. This time, I didn’t let anyone hold me back and I’ve done so much because of it. I’m actually proud of the things I’ve accomplished because I finally allowed myself the chance to achieve them.

With each accomplishment came an increased sense of self-worth. I began feeling good about myself. I believed that I could do anything I wanted if I tried hard enough to make it happen. I learned how to make sure no one made me doubt my abilities or question if I was good enough. I became self-assured and felt that I was someone worthy of great things; that I had more to offer–that I was more than average.

With that self-worth, I was able to handle life’s curve balls: I learned that giving people the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean they won’t disappoint me. However, when that situation arises, I could now deal with things much better. I also realized that when something goes wrong, two things can happen: I can let the situation control me or I can determine the end result. Earlier in life I would get so wrapped up in the negativity of the situation that I’d be consumed by it. But now I know how to take it for what it is, figure out a solution, be proactive, and move along. There’s so much good out there, why would I waste another second on something that clearly isn’t?

This selfishness allowed me to grow as a person. When I believed I hit a brick wall, I now realize that there’s ways to get around it even if it takes a bit more effort. I learned that sometimes life doesn’t just hand me things and that it’s up to me to make opportunities happen.

It wasn’t until I finally took the time to care about myself that I realized not all selfishness is bad. This way of living has helped me become a better version of myself and, in turn, allows me to offer the best I can to those around me. Maybe if more people took the time to focus on themselves and strive to reach their personal goals, they wouldn’t need to use others to get ahead. Wouldn’t that be quite the concept?”

I know that many of you out there have had rough situations like the ones mentioned earlier. I know there are also plenty of you that are burnt out and beat up from lost job opportunities and dead-end interviews. Sometimes it’s hard not to question if you’re good enough if you’re dealing with rejection after rejection. It can also be hard on your confidence and ego if you weren’t even given the opportunity to be rejected. But you can’t let that define who you are. Otherwise, you’ll portray a lesser version of yourself and others will judge you based off of that because that’s all they’ll see.

Get your self-confidence back, that way you’ll be able to put your best foot forward in your next interview. Take a break from checking the job boards and take some time to build yourself back up. Set personal goals for yourself, even if it’s a small one. In my eyes, an accomplishment is an accomplishment no matter how big or small. Building that confidence back up could allow you to handle the set-backs better and know how to react in a way that can bounce you back in a favorable direction. I believe that you can find what’s right for you if you try these suggestions.

As of right now, I don’t know what the future holds for me. However, I am confident that if I take the time to do these things, then I will be paving the way to the greatest future possible.

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