How many times have you thought about yourself today? About what you want? About what people might think about you? Because I literally can’t count them all. I was at dinner last week and asked my friend Ben what his worst trait was. Almost without missing a beat he stated ‘selfish,’ it quite honestly hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Exactly, of course it is. It’s everyone’s worst trait. But why hadn’t I immediately thought that was my own?”
He said it so casually, and explained that it was something he tried to be more purposeful about, something he was continuously working on.
It was only the first time this theme would smack me in the face this week. A good friend of mine is a teacher for Teach for America in Miami. He and two other teachers brought a group of 12 students to Boston this past weekend to tour colleges and experience the (best) city. The students, all minority, were chosen for one of the following reasons:
- They had dedicated the allotted time to the 10th grade math club these teachers had created.
- They were incredibly bright yet didn’t show the motivation or effort needed to go to college.
- They were incredibly bright and wanted to go to college.
This trip was geared to inspire these students to pursue college. For their last night in town I met them for a comedy show at the famous Boston comedy club, Improv Asylum. The show was hysterical and even included one of the students, Chris, getting pulled up on stage…the kid is a natural. After the show we ventured to Mike’s Pastries (I know, not the best but iconic all the same), and spent the rest of the night gallivanting around the city on a perfect warm, clear night. I walked away from the evening so impressed by the passion of these kids, the spark that this trip ignited in some of them was simply impressive, all they needed was a little inspiration.
But it got me thinking, how great is my life and what I’ve got going on? What have I done today or this week to help anyone else?
Lately I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the theme of being a “lost twentysomething.” It’s addicting. It’s a common thread I’ve found with many friends and strangers, an easy conversation topic, discussing likes and dislikes, struggles and mini victories. But a little perspective from this weekend made me find fault in these consuming thoughts. Do I focus too much time on myself and not enough on anyone else?
Is that bad?
I’m not sure.
Maybe yes and maybe no. We attract what we are. The more we better ourselves the more we surround ourselves with those that are better as well. Like minded even. I’ve struggled with this concept though. Is it OK for me to be focusing this much time and energy on myself and my own life? I walked away from this weekend feeling almost guilty. I grew up in a household that placed a strong importance on community involvement and volunteering. Not only through my parents professions but some of my fondest childhood memories included my dad’s “little brother” as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. Volunteering was ingrained in me. So when did I begin to find my own self discovery more important that helping someone else on their journey?
I believe that in these years of being a twentysomething self discovery is more important than ever. It begins with self-awareness, and this is where I struggle. It’s important to reflect on our own lives, and focus on bettering ourselves yet I leave you with this question:
Where is the line drawn between self discovery and selfishness?
“Practice being selfless. You end up getting more than you anticipate when your soul is giving.”
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