Being Selfish (In the Right Way)

By Angel Munoz (BU Wheelock ’19)

A common saying I have encountered, and I’m sure many others have as well, is that college is “the best four years of your life.” Many of us applied to colleges and universities in order to expand our horizons, seek opportunity, and receive an education that would make us aware citizens of the world. But, the fact that people claimed it would be some of the most enjoyable years in our lifetime, it was icing on the cake. We didn’t want to stop at improving ourselves, but use our talents elsewhere, and this especially goes for my peers in education. Many of us, we entered the field because we wanted to have an active role in our community, we wanted to make an impact.

Many of the people I know, myself included, have dedicated our last four years to our studies and the studies of others. Now, when I say the studies of others, I don’t mean just helping each other in the classroom or having study groups. No, I mean mastering our discipline to its fullest so we can stand in front a younger group of individuals and teach them the same material. We have become refined in our craft, and take pride in the fact that we can pass on the knowledge that allowed us to be here today, that allowed us to have the “best four years of our lives.” However, these last four years don’t always feel like the best, especially when you’re always putting others first.

Future educators go into the field not to have fame, but to be the silent change that no one thinks enough about. They don’t do it to be celebrated, but so that students can celebrate their achievements. In the world of education, all focus goes towards the individuals you hope to serve well, and each and every step that’s taken you work through diligently to give them a chance to shine. Education has its intrinsic rewards, we’re happy when we have a role in someone else’s happiness and success, but oftentimes, it is easily to lose sight of what we’re doing to make ourselves happy.

For the last four years of our lives, my classmates and I have dedicated ourselves to making sure that wherever and whoever we can empower, that we will give it our all and then some to make that happen. Every year, every day, we’ve dedicated ourselves to this. We’ve worked tirelessly, endlessly, and selflessly to be leaders of our communities. I’m proud to say we’ve succeeded, and I’m proud of the class of 2019 and confident in saying they will be at the forefront of any growth we see in our communities.

However, you soon learn, that when you give every bit of your effort towards others, you have so little left for yourself. In the world of education, it’s never about you. The first thing on our minds is how we can help those around us, and how we can make things a little bit easier for everyone. It’s a progressive way of thinking, one that helps spread kindness, love, and care to those around us so that people can be the best and happiest versions of themselves. But we rarely stop to think about ourselves, because we’re always thinking of others. A mentor of mine once told me “you can’t fully help people if you cannot help yourself, because we represent all parts of us, good and bad. Yes, it’s great to know all nooks and crannies of your discipline, but none of that matters when you’re burnt out, running on no sleep, and angry because you don’t have any more energy left in you. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes, being selfish doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.” I’ve held these words close to my heart ever since, and I think everyone should too.

When we chose to be educators, we did it for all the right reasons. We thought by putting ourselves last and putting others first we were being helpful, and though we were, it was at the cost of our joy. Helping others makes us happy, that is true. But, other things make us happy too, and it’s okay to indulge in the parts of life that are only about you, we’re all better leaders when we can help ourselves too. I know we get caught up in making sure that everyone has the best years of their lives, but be selfish. Let these be “the best four years of your life”, it all begins by doing something for yourself. You’re going to help many people, just make sure you’re one of those people as well.