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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Silence the “what ifs”

Have you ever stared at your office wall and just stopped for a moment to wonder how you got there? Do you wonder if this was always how it was supposed to be? Did the months and years pass by in a blink of the eye and now you’re thinking about all of those intentions and dreams that got lost along the way? If not, then I’m happy that you’ve discovered what you’re fated for. If yes, then this is for you.

From our youth we’re taught that we need to decide almost immediately what we want to be when we grow up. Then, as we get a bit older we’re told to “be realistic” about our choices. We go to school for a degree that seems reasonable and gives us the feeling that we could have a stable future. We fall into jobs that we realize we’re “good” at- it’s comfortable and our career paths are clear with it. Comfortable, stable, and reasonable-  sure. But does it truly satisfy you or are you left wondering every so often if there is something more out there?

If you were given the chance to explore your interests and passions, what would you do?

Over the last year I’ve had a lot of time to think about this. I completed my degree in human resources and fought for positions in the field so I could make use of this degree. I’ve been in good situations, I’ve been in terrible ones, and I’ve been in unstable ones. I’ve worked ridiculous amount of hours, weekends, and holidays and I’ve been unemployed for months. After all these changes and my fight to make use of this degree, I had to stop and ask myself, “why?”

I took a degree in business because I wanted to be done with school in a reasonable amount of time, especially since I was working and could only take a few classes a semester. I had experience in administrative and business so taking a degree I had some experience and knowledge in seemed comfortable and I felt I could easily transition into that role. I also felt that it could offer me a stable future for a career. Comfortable, stable, and reasonable strikes again! Is this field all of those things? Perhaps. Is it going to fulfill my life in a way that will make me never wonder what else is out there? Not quite.

I got into this mentality that I needed to go this way because that would allow me to have a decent life and it was something I could count on. After working various roles in this type of work, I realized that it’s not what I thought it would be. All my good intentions of making a difference, protecting my employees, and giving people hope for a better future with a company were out of my reach. Quite honestly, most of the things I’ve done in the field have been quite boring. I haven’t gotten my hands in anything I intended to and even if I did, I’m not sure if anyone would have an open enough mind to make a change for the better.

I gave it a shot but I’m left wondering why? I know what really interests me and what my passions are so why didn’t I go after it from the beginning? Several reasons, really: society tells me that you can’t get a job without experience in it; some of these passions will not make an income unless I was one of the lucky ones; it does not easily allow me to get my life together for an established future. I’m not sure if those excuses are enough for me anymore.

I don’t want to live my life without getting a chance to explore what’s buried deep inside of me. I believe that we need to be true to ourselves and that we should work relentlessly towards the things we honestly want. I’d rather discover what is rather than live my life full of “what ifs.” If it turns out something I was passionate about isn’t right for me, then that’s fine. At least I tried, learned, and I can move on to something that is. I’d rather try, fight, and fail than be old and gray, urging my grandchildren to take the chances I never did. It will be a rough road, full of uncertainty, but it will be my choice. I will not fit into anyone else’s mold of what I should be.

Do not let your heart’s desire be silenced by what you think society expects you to be. The only expectation you should care about is the one you have of yourself. If you’re currently longing to discover what more could be out there for you then this is something you need to consider and pursue. I’m not telling you to go into work tomorrow and hand in your two weeks but I’m suggesting for you to take back your life and dreams. Start creating a plan of action. Follow through. And if you do, I hope you find what you’re searching for and that you never have to question if there’s something more out there again.