LIE #3: “I’ll know myself – and what I want.”

It’s time for another installment from The Self-Help Files, and I’m finally getting around to the third chapter (or “lie”) of the “It’s a Wonderful Lie” series (click that link to read the previous entries). And check out the Self-Help Files page for a look at what’s on my radar next.

It’s been more than three months since I wrote about this book, but I loaned it to my roommate after finishing it, and quite honestly, forgot all about it being part of my blog. So I just reread the third chapter to refresh my memory, and I’m now ready to get back into these posts.

The third chapter / lie of this book is:

“I”ll know myself — and what I want.”

First reaction? Hahahaha, ohhhhh man, that is a funny one… because I’m still pretty unsure of who I am and what I want, although I am a hell of a lot closer than I was a few years ago…or even one year ago.

There are two stories in this chapter that hit me. The first one was called “A Thousand Times Yes,” and was all about Beth’s obsession with the word “yes” in her 20s. She didn’t turn down any opportunity, personal or professional. But she eventually realized that she needed to prioritize and really mean it when she said “yes,” and that saying “no” every once in a while would make the “yes”es even more meaningful. This is something I’ve thought about of late. I went through this period where I didn’t want to miss out on anything, so I said yes to everything. Anything my friends were doing, I said yes. I didn’t want to be left out. But by the end of this past summer, I was exhausted. I was burnt out. And I was fairly broke. So I started prioritizing and saying no to some things. I’m also wondering if I said “yes” too easily to a job offer. This job isn’t the first one I was offered, and I did say no to one other offer. But it’s been a learning experience, for sure. The next search…well, I think I might take a little more time to figure out if I really want to say yes.

The other story that got me was “The Pursuit of Happiness.” Ohhh, how this one hit me. Rebecca writes all about how through her 20s, her parents never harassed her about her job, her finances, her love life… they just wanted to know one thing: “Are you happy?” This reminds me so much of my parents’ interests in my life. Yes, I have a job and yes, I have an apartment, and yes, they are proud of me for these things. But they always want to know if I’m happy. And for the most part, I am. But then the questions come on holidays from my extended family. “How’s work going, Linds?” When I respond, they say, “Oh, well try not to sound so excited about it next time…” I’m just being honest when I answer, but they all seem a little disappointed when I can’t say that I’m happy at work.

What I’m coming to realize through conversations with my friends is that none of us are completely sure of who we are, what we’re supposed to be doing, what we want or how we can be happy. Our 20s are about figuring all of that out. And that’s OK. At this point, the happiness I’m feeling in other facets of my life are making up for the parts where I’m not happy.

The last paragraph of this story (and the chapter) seemed perfect to me, especially since I am 23, so I’m going to share it here:

“I am determined not to betray my twenty-three-year-old self, who resented the pressure to be fulfilled when she was merely responsible, to be joyful when she was daunted, to have a ball when she was just plain scared. But if I could, I would send her this message from the future: While the tight budgets and self-doubt and broken hearts don’t disappear, just over the border at thirty, I can honestly say that I’m pretty happy.”

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