I have less than two weeks left in New Zealand. This has led to [too much] self-reflection and many conversations with friends about our abroad experience. One of my friends also spent her last semester abroad, so she has been gone for the entire year. She told me, “deciding to go abroad is the most selfish thing I’ve ever done.” Now, I understood what she meant but this made me think long and hard about my own decisions and motives. And maybe this is just me, and maybe this makes me a [slightly] terrible person for thinking this, but I fully believe that it is necessary to frequently make selfish decisions. Before anyone starts yelling at me for being entirely self-centered, please let me justify this claim.
I think that too many people try to please others too often, and that frustrates me. If you are constantly putting others before yourself, I don’t think you can ever be fully happy or satisfied. It is one thing to do nice things for other people, and I fully agree with that. But if you are living only to make others happy, your own happiness becomes dependent on other people.
I believe in independence. I believe that you should be able to create happiness for yourself, by yourself. I believe that in order to make others happy, you must first be the best version of yourself.
As a runner, I recognize that I am incredibly selfish. Every time I lace up my sneakers and head out the door, I am running for me and nobody else. When I decided to go abroad, I made that decision with my own interests in mind. I am a self-focused individual, and I do not believe that makes me a bad person. I love to make the people around me smile and laugh, but I am not capable of that if I am not happy with myself first.
My semester in New Zealand has been spent doing things that make me happy, and never have I felt so free, satisfied, and at peace with myself. While I have always considered myself an independent person, I feel like this strength of mine has grown even more in the past few months. I have formed incredible, deep friendships while here and I think this is because if I can be honest with myself, I have an easier time opening up and being honest with other people.
So maybe going abroad is the most selfish thing I’ve ever done- but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.