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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Practicing selfishness isn't inherently a bad thing

DTH Photo Illustration. College is a time to try new things and prioritize your self-growth.

Picture this. You're sitting in your bedroom doing homework, studying or practicing a bit of self-care when you get a text from a friend.

"We're going out tonight!"

"We're all studying at Davis!"

"We're on our way to Southpoint!"

You'd rather not join. But that voice in your head that tells you that you should go, despite your own interests and preferences. I'm here to tell you to ignore it. 

College is your selfish era – a time where it is genuinely acceptable to be a bit selfish. I am not, in any way, advising you to be self-centered, rude or a heartless social climber.

Being selfish doesn't always have to look like putting yourself before others, for your gain and at their expense. That is not the type of selfishness I'm getting at.  

In college, there can be pressure to do things that you think will appease your new friends. Remember, we aren't in high school anymore. You don't need to blindly listen to the Regina Georges of the world that might tell you what you should be doing on a Friday night, what you should be wearing and what should make you happy.

Odds are, if you go to UNC, you have a stacked Google Calendar. We are all so extremely busy and often find ourselves thinking, "I don't have the time to prioritize myself and do my thing." When will you fit "doing your thing" in with classes, extracurriculars and social obligations?

You can't do it all. Sometimes you have to pick yourself.

Picking yourself means prioritizing who you want to become. It's about studying and maintaining your grades — not the grades of your neighbor that Snapchats you every day and asks for "help" with their homework.

It's about spending time with the people that make you the best version of yourself and not spending time with mediocre friends who demand your involvement in their lives.

It's about being bold enough to tell your roommate they are being disrespectful, instead of letting them walk all over you.

It's about failing, making mistakes, being disorganized and an absolute hot mess, but becoming a better person for it.

It's facing challenges, such as anxiety or depression, and understanding your character is not defined by your struggles, but is shaped by them.

It's about having the courage to ask for help when you know you need it.

Be selfish by knowing what you want and having the respect for yourself to prioritize going after it. Stop listening to what others might say you should be doing or wanting.

Advocating for your interests is scary. We have this idea that we need to be likable. We have to go out there and be all the things that people want us to be, so we can get a job and have friends and avoid loneliness.

But if you think you need to dim your light to make others feel brighter, then these aren't your people.

Here's the deal: in prioritizing yourself, you will not be perfect. You will make mistakes. You will hurt people, and people will hurt you. You will be young and dumb, and that's okay. You shouldn't be embarrassed for being human and learning what your boundaries are.

But don't let the learning curve scare you from prioritizing your goals. If you mess up, try again, and let it make you better. Don't ever think that you aren't good enough to deserve this process in its entirety.

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Ultimately, the premise of character is cultivated by choices. Your choices. You get to decide who you want to be and what you want to do with your college years. And from personal experience, I would advise you to stay true to who you are, because that will be more rewarding than being what someone else wants you to be — or what you think someone wants you to be — any day.

College is your selfish era, so invest in yourself. Don't give your time to people who will abuse it. Don't put yourself in situations because you are afraid of FOMO. Don't fall into the trap of bandwagon mentality.

Those that are quick to respond to their passions instead of jumping through hoops to gain worldly satisfaction are the people that are going to change the world. Advocating for yourself can often be perceived as "being selfish," and I'm here to tell you to embrace it.

Be selfish, this is your time. And it's your choice.