Our 20s are our selfish years — and for good reason. These years are crucial when it comes to learning about ourselves — from what we need in a romantic partner, to whether or not we can survive in a congested city to whether or not we are cut out for a nine-to-five job.
Having no obligations from mortgages or families, it’s a time when we’re allowed to move around and sift through different opportunities. And as we exercise this freedom, it becomes increasingly obvious that the available options are endless. But as amazing as this is, we simply can't do it all. When we try, we find ourselves being pulled in opposite directions.
In our quest to figure out who we are and build a life that will make us most happy and inspired, it is crucial to learn what we don't like and how to stay away from it. As Hannah Horvath from the HBO series, “GIRLS,” says, “It’s really liberating to say ‘no’ to sh*t you hate.” When we stop agreeing to things that don’t excite us, we make room for what might do the trick.
Whether it is invitations from friends, an opportunity that fell into your lap or an obligation to which you feel you must commit solely because “it’s the right thing to do,” too often we haphazardly commit for the wrong reasons. When this becomes a habit, it’s a hard one to break. The more we allow other people dictate our decisions, the more likely we are to wake up with the realization that we aren't as fulfilled as we could be.
It’s important to be a good a friend, and of course, sometimes we must do things we don’t want to do (especially when it comes to work). But there are a handful of situations when it is totally permissible to be selfish and just say no. Check it out:
To going out when you would rather stay in.
Aside from the fact that your hangovers probably last alarmingly longer than they used to, there is nothing wrong with choosing to do, well nothing, opposed to going out. Whether you are trying to save money, aren't in the mood to be at a crowded bar, or are just simply more excited to put on fuzzy socks and binge-watch Netflix, there is nothing wrong with staying in. "Hermit." "Nana." "Anti-social."
Nicknames be damned — at some point, your crazy college lifestyle will take a backseat to taking care of yourself. While isolation for extended periods of time is never recommended, neither is forcing yourself into social situations if your heart, or energy, simply isn't in it.
To being friends with your ex.
Staying “friends” after a breakup is often a way for the dumper to feel less guilt and for the dumpee to feel less pitiful. But, friendship is not always the solution. You may think you want to take the high road and defy all odds, but when you’re honest with yourself, you'll realize you’re only causing more pain. Some people aren't meant to be in our lives forever.
There is a reason it was easier for you two (or just one of you) to call it quits than to stay together. You can’t erase the past, but that doesn’t mean you need to carry it with you into the future. Chances are, the bad stuff will carry over into your friendship as well. Why put yourself through that?
We all know the “Zen” way is generally best, and we're often told to "forgive and forget." But no apology should ever be given — or accepted — unless it’s genuine. If someone has hurt you, or if you have hurt someone else, you must come to terms with it in the healthiest way possible; in a way that allows you to heal and move forward. But, you should not mistake this for being responsible for easing someone else's struggle — that his or her burden to handle.
If someone hurt you and you don't feel like "it's really okay," then you don't have to assure anyone that it is. If someone feels he or she deserves an apology from you for something you don't regret saying or doing, don’t supply it just for the sake of smoothing over a situation. Stand by your decisions.
When people ask you if you see marriage or children in your future.
“You say that now, but you’ll change your mind.” Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. Either way, it’s okay — to each their own. What makes one person feel fulfilled and happy in life likely won’t be the same for another person. There’s no cookie-cutter timeline for how your life should pan out, so don’t, not even for a second, allow anyone to make you feel like you’re missing a window of opportunity to conform — not when it goes against what you truly want.
Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that marriage isn't for everyone, or that some women have zero desire to ever procreate. But as members of Gen-Y, we're lucky to live in a time when it has never been more acceptable for women to choose careers over babies or to have both. While there is nothing wrong with getting married and starting a family, it is only the best option for the people who truly want it.
To spending an absurd amount of money on a fashion trend.
It’s a “trend” for a reason — it will eventually go out of style. And next season, when that article of clothing gets shunned to the back of the closet, you may have nightmares of your shrunken bank account cackling, “I told you so!” Don’t waste money on materialistic things if they aren’t important to you.
There’s no shame in having a lavish lifestyle or spending your money on designer labels — not if that is what makes you happy. However, there is shame in selling out — both your soul and bank account — to mold you into whatever society deems to be cool this month.
To hanging out with a “friend” who makes you feel sh*tty.
As you grow up, you realize you don’t need the people who don’t add any value to your life — especially the passive-aggressive, bitchy ones who leave you feeling poorly about yourself. While they may not realize how their actions or words affect you, ultimately, you’ll offer no explanation. Some friendships die away, and that’s okay.
Too often, we prolong friendships — all types of relationships, for that matter — out of a feeling of obligation. When we get comfortable with our friendships, it can be difficult to see that certain people aren’t doing anything productive for us, and they may actually be hurting us.
If you catch yourself groaning when someone calls or you feel relieved when you already have plans on the night they ask you hang out, it's probably time to stop feeding this already dying relationship. A good friend should be a source of encouragement and a positive presence; he or she should make you feel good about yourself — happy and secure.
To being in a Facebook relationship.
If you’re with someone you truly love and it’s reciprocated, you won’t need an Internet connection to know it’s real. Social media’s success relies on the need people feel to showcase their lives — and that’s okay. But showing the world how well your green smoothie turned out is not equivalent to broadcasting the up’s and down’s of your romantic relationship. While online relationship statuses are not necessarily a bad thing, they definitely aren't mandatory. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel otherwise.
To have a dream, major or profession some people deem to be useless.
If someone says he or she is an aspiring singer or actress, most will roll their eyes and think “good luck with that.” F*ck those people. This is your life and if you have the balls to follow your dreams despite what society has deemed to be logical, then you’re already doing better than they are.