DOING WHAT YOU WANT: AN ETERNAL QUEST FOR SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS
Last week I wrote about doing what you love despite what other people may think. And this week I’m going to reinforce that point to a degree because of how important it is.
I am currently on a bus heading for the city of Galway (in Ireland) after a brief two-day visit to the nation’s largest city, Dublin. When you study abroad in Europe for a semester the expectation is that you will travel within the continent because of the proximity and relatively-low travel costs. So for my first adventure outside of Scotland, some new friends and I decided to spend a four-day weekend exploring two of Ireland’s greatest cities.
Only one problem. I went with eight other people.
I never took in to account that traveling with so many people could raise issues. Don’t get me wrong—I like everyone I’m with and I had a blast in Dublin. But when we get to Galway, the amount of fun I have will be completely up to me.
Yesterday when we arrived to the city for a day of tourist-y things we stopped every five minutes to take selfies with the help of one of those freakin’ selfie sticks (worst invention in the history of mankind). No one had any plans in mind of where to go or what they wanted to see. No one wanted to stop and appreciate some of the fine architecture in the city. People were just stopping, standing and looking at their phone while waiting every time a person veered away from the group for a moment. So after about 20 minutes of that, I had had enough. I chatted with a buddy who was also frustrated, so we decided to separate from the pack and forge our own way throughout Dublin.
We knew we had limited time in one of the greatest cities in the world so we wanted to make the most of it without relying on others. We walked through the heart of Trinity College, one of the oldest colleges in the world. The campus was absolutely breathtaking; I couldn’t believe students actually went to school there. We went to the National Art Gallery and then to a take-away restaurant so we could bring our lunch to a park for a mid-day picnic.
After that we headed for the famous Guinness Storehouse to reconvene with the rest of our group for our reserved 4:00 tour of the factory where the Irish brew Guinness, the ruby-red beer served throughout the world. The place was an indoor shrine to beer; my friend compared it to a Disney World for adults and I couldn’t agree more. Throughout the factory’s seven floors we learned how the beer is made from its four essential ingredients (barley, hops, yeast and water) before learning the step-by-step approach to pouring the perfect pint of Guinness. And of course, it’s not a beer factory tour without a free pint at the end. I can’t describe the taste of it, but it was definitely different (and much better) than Guinness in America. I strongly recommend it.
After a group dinner we headed to Temple Bar, Dublin’s central nightlife district. Predictably, no one knew what they wanted to do, so I walked in to a bar that looked like fun. I ordered a ½ pint of Guinness because I knew I wanted to stay there for a while, not caring if others followed. I was looking for an authentic Irish night out in Dublin and so I made it happen. Shortly after the rest of the group came in and we ended up staying there for hours enjoying live music, dancing and conversations with random Irish people, who are some of the most fun people I’ve ever met.
I didn’t get to do everything I had hoped in Dublin simply due to time constraints. Had I stayed with the large group the entire time, I probably wouldn’t have accomplished any of the things I wanted or snapped some of the really cool photographs that I did, which brings me back to the intended point of this article.
If you were to ask me the single greatest lesson I’ve learned throughout my college years, it would be this: you can’t rely on anyone but yourself if you hope to get what you want. Your success and happiness? It’s all on your shoulders. You have to take matters into your own hands. You have to be willing to be selfish.
For some reason, selfishness is commonly considered a bad quality in a person and I can’t understand why. We’re all young and trying to figure out who we really are and how we are going to make it in this world after college. Let’s face it, once we leave the protective bubbles of our respective campuses, we are truly on our own. As we go naturally go our separate ways we will slowly lose relationships we’ve built with friends, classmates and co-workers throughout our four years here. It’s a sad truth, but let’s not kid ourselves here, it’s a reality. The people who are by your side today aren’t going to be there tomorrow in five years, or in 10. You’re lucky if you can hang on to a handful of people that you’re close with now.
So because all of the people aren’t going to be there in the long-run, why should we try to please everybody else now? This is the crucial time in our lives where we have to figure out who we are and who we hope to be. I walked away with a better understanding of Dublin because I did what I wanted rather than dilly-dally all day taking selfies at places you know nothing about. And when I arrive in Galway in a few hours, I’m going to make sure that no one else ruins it for me. I’m paying for this trip with my own hard-earned money and I’m not going to make sacrifices for other people if it means it will make my experience less enjoyable.
Don’t think that selfishness is a bad quality in a person. If a person is selfish it means he/she knows what she wants and how to go about it. Determination—now that is an attractive quality. I only wish more people understood that.