There’s a thought that’s been brewing in my mind for the last few weeks as I gear up for what may be my busiest year yet: Life is a constant push-pull between being selfish and meaningful personal relationships.
When I say selfish I don’t think of a negative connotation because we all need to be somewhat selfish in life, no? To attain the things we want, for ourselves and those who we want to share our lives with, we have to prioritize the things that lend to those end goals. Possessing an “overachiever-first” mentality, I do not think it’s a crime to set personal goals in life and be uncompromising. Often we compromise on the things we know we need and regret settling down the road. Being selfish to me means deciding on what we want – not what your parents, friends, boyfriend, boss or anyone else wants – and propelling ourselves forward to attain that which we have decided upon.
But at the other end of the rope, we all seek fulfillment. Meaningful relationships, the feeling that what we’re doing in life makes a difference, or at the very least makes us happy to go to work each day. And of course love. Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves can lend perfectly to this kind of fulfillment but, conversely, often putting yourself or your career first can get in the way of meaningful connections. Being too single minded in what we want can cause us to rush passed life without stopping to smell the roses and share the experience with others along the way.
It’s a conundrum that I often think about. And frankly it’s not easy to ameliorate the constant push-pull.
It’s clear that I skew in the direction of camp selfish but I see it like this: If I’m not happy with myself, my accomplishments, and where I want to be in my career, I will not be happy in my personal life. I often feel as though it is emphasized that we all need fulfillment from others. However you’re a dreamer if you think attaining the things we want out of life should take a back seat on the priority list. For me, the ideology that a significant other makes you better, or a person who needs a relationship to be happy, is innately flawed and destined for a personal crisis down the road. Taking a step back, mulling over yourself and deciding what it is that makes you happy has to be an equal priority with sharing your life with others.
The perfect balance between selfishness and meaningful relationship most likely doesn’t exist. But for me the dilemma reminds me that no matter how caught up you get pursuing one end of the spectrum, it’s good to pause and assess your progress on the other end. Maybe I think about it all too clinically, but in the rat race that is life, understanding the tradeoffs of push-pulls is the first step to balancing it all successfully.