I have the life philosophy of a five-year-old in that I base a solid 90% of my decisions on what I simply want to do.
Shouldn’t spend money on that festival? But I want to. Shouldn’t text that guy who’s bad news? But I want to. Shouldn’t take that risk or splurge on that desire or indulge that particular fantasy? But instant gratification is calling. And we all know how hard that monster is to resist.
And here’s the thing about instant gratification: A lot of the time, it’s not the worst thing in the world. So you spent too much money or leaped before looking or spent a bit of time tangled up with somebody who’s wrong for you. Most of these situations are recoverable – I’d even go so far as to say they’re valuable learning experiences.
But as with anything, there is a tipping point.
There’s a point at which our desires begin veering us into unhealthy territory. And it takes a high degree of self-awareness to recognize where exactly that point lies.
Because sometimes what we want is entirely divorced from what’s best for us.
Sometimes that person or that job or that risk that intrigues us so desperately is also the very thing that would bring us to ruin if we were to actually go for it. Sometimes we love someone who’s never going to treat us right. Sometimes we want a job that isn’t willing to compensate us fairly.
And the sad truth about any of these situations is that all we can do – if we want to retain our self-respect – is let them go.
Most of us were taught, at some point or another, that when you want something badly enough, you should put aside everything else to achieve it. But this doesn’t always hold true.
Wanting a person isn’t a good enough reason to stay in an unhealthy relationship.
Wanting a job title isn’t a good enough reason to stay exhausted and in debt indefinitely.
Wanting just about any external object isn’t a good enough reason to sacrifice your wellbeing and self-respect.
And that’s exactly what you’re doing when you’re putting what you want ahead of what is genuinely best for you.
Because the truth is, you deserve better than a person who treats you like a doormat – even if a huge parts of you loves and wants to be with that person.
You deserve better than a job that doesn’t compensate you fairly – even if you enjoy and feel personally fulfilled by the work you’re doing.
One of the hardest lessons you may ever have to learn in life is when you need to be bigger than your own sense of desire. When you ought to say no to a compromise, even when you’re happy to make it. When you have to judge what’s best for you the way a friend or parent would – lovingly and compassionately, but toughly.
Because it’s never going to be easy to walk away from what you really want.
It’s never going to be easy to tell yourself “I want this, but I deserve better.”
And yet, learning to do so is one of the most empowering and freeing things you may ever learn to do.
Because a funny thing happens when you stop settling for bullshit in life: You stop getting it.
And that ends up making all of the difference in the world.