Why Chasing Your Dreams Doesn't Mean You're Entitled Or Selfish

by Leviana Coccia

I am not entitled. I may be ambitious, confident, professionally driven and focused on my goals, but I certainly don’t expect to be served good fortune on a silver platter.

I understand meeting my goals takes work and I am completely okay with trial and error, and dusting myself off and trying again.

Still, why do so many of us 20-somethings get lumped into the group of “entitled Millennials,” if we go after what we want — and work for it?

Am I ignorant to the fact that there are many people (20-somethings included) who think that if they’re managers or people who graduated with some form of higher education, they deserve to be greeted like the Queen of England?

No, not at all.

All I’m saying is there is a huge difference between entitlement and ambition. Let me explain:

When I was in high school, I had dreams of going to one of the most prestigious journalism schools in Canada.

I needed to go to one of them. Then, guess what? I didn’t get in.

I didn’t get in with A+ grades. I sobbed until I realized I would be okay if I worked hard because I could still reach my goals and fulfill my career in the communications industry.

Note: I treated elementary school like a full-time job. So, when busting my ass didn’t lead me to “success,” I was very upset.

Still, I went to a new-ish post-secondary school, a hybrid between a university and a college.

When I told my high school friends where I was going, I immediately became chopped liver.

I was the "failure" who didn’t get into a posh university.

Well, sorry!

I completed my undergrad and loved it. I then really wanted to do my masters in journalism at one of those very well-known schools I previously mentioned.

I had a portfolio to submit, great references, amazing grades and loads of volunteer experience in the field.

I interned at a major TV station, I got an A+ on my final research paper about gender issues in the media and I was ready to take on the world.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t get in. Again.

What was wrong with me?

I sobbed some more, but eventually got over it. I pursued a post-graduate certificate in a different, but related field and ended up building a well-rounded résumé, portfolio and list of contacts.

I can’t tell you where I would have been right now if I went to those highly-rated universities, but I’m happy, and I measure my success by how happy I am. So for me, I’m winning.

I do not walk around thinking people need to kiss my feet or bring me jewels because I’m turning 25 years old and established in my career.

I do not expect a promotion without working for it, nor do I think everything I write will get published.

I get that being a human involves often being rejected and being okay with others telling me I can’t have something I really, really want.

So, why, when I want change or think I am on the wrong path, am I told I need to wait a long time before feeling like I’m anywhere near my goals?

Like it’s wrong of me to want to work toward something and go for it?

I may have a long way to go to be at the top of my game, but I know that. I am allowed to set goals for myself and create steps about how to get there.

If one of those steps doesn’t feel right, I am allowed to change paths and look for something that might be a better fit.

Going after what I want doesn’t make me entitled.

Doing something to better myself, whether professionally or personally, does not make me entitled, either.

Acting like I deserve to be at the top after devoting little to no work does.

Are we entitled to our opinions? Of course. Are we entitled to respect and equality? Absolutely.

Are we entitled to a job right out of school that pays more than what the average household makes? No, we are not.

Are we better than volunteer work or staying late after everyone has gone home to finish something, even though we know we can’t account for our overtime hours? No.

The most successful people weren’t always carrying around Prada bags and ordering expensive drinks on a fancy Fairmont Hotel rooftop patio.

They had to work toward that part of the end goal (if your end goal includes Prada and $18 beverages).

We shouldn’t expect or feel entitled to success. We have to earn it.