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The Selfish Years

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Japanese photographer Kyoko Escamilla once said, “Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.”

These are the years to learn about life and yourself. As we adventure into adulthood and independence, let’s not forget that these are the prime years to experience the world.

Have you ever felt like everyone has life figured out, but you? Well, I have good news for you. Everyone feels the same way!

It is often easy to get lost in the pressure of figuring out life, school, jobs, and everything in between. We are at that weird age where we are too young to have life figured out, yet we are too old to not be working towards something. However, your twenties are your prime time to be selfish, and that’s okay. These years will shape who we are in the future. It is up to us to decide what experiences, places, and people will influence that.

Travel as much as you can. Although other experiences are important, I think traveling is what really opens your mind. Growing up in the same place can sometimes limit who you are and what you think about the world. A change of scenery, and experiencing something completely out of your your comfort zone really changes how you see the world.

There are so many places to visit, people to meet, food to eat, and things to learn around the world, to stay in the same place your whole life. The world is too big for you to only experience only a tiny fraction of it.

I know that not all us can drop everything and travel the world, but traveling is always possible. Saving up and choosing the cheap options can allow you to experience what life is like on the other side of the world. Traveling doesn’t mean fancy hotels and spending your savings in a week. When I say traveling, I mean experiencing a new culture and emerging into another lifestyle, even if it’s only for a few days. I’ve learned more from traveling and experiencing first hand new cultures that I ever learned in a classroom.

School and all forms of “formal education” are crucial in my opinion, but don’t be fooled, we are constantly learning and expanding our minds, not necessary in a class room.

Knowledge is everywhere for those who want to seek it.

Experiences, people, museums, new cities, art, music, films, television, and even the internet are all sources of valuable knowledge. There is not an age where you stop learning, and truth is, the more you open your mind to new ideas, the more your perspective and understanding of the world improves.

Take these years, where you’re hopefully only responsible for yourself to make the most of it, shape your mind and don’t worry about others. Just because everyone around you is not interested in learning new things or experiencing new things doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go the extra mile and live the way it feels right for you.

Don’t let your environment set your barriers either.

Although not all of us are blessed enough to live in a cultural rich place, or have enough funds to travel the world, there is also room to explore and experience new things. It is easy to get trapped in the mindset that things make you happy. Spending money on experiences and not things can truly change your life and mindset.

I’ll be the first one to admit that it can be harder than it sounds, planning for things that seem so far ahead sometimes gets lost in the middle of immediate satisfaction. But traveling, concerts, museums and every other new experience you can think of come with something that things can provide, memories and once again knowledge.

Apply for your dream job, dare to choose a career you love, whatever that might be.

I’ve always been an advocate for this mentality, being an adult doesn’t always have to mean having a job you hate, or forever living, waiting for the weekend or your day off. I know life and circumstances can get in the way, but that’s the beauty of being 20.

This is the time to change your life around if you want to. Be selfish, think about you and don’t worry about what your parents or peers might think. After all, you’re the one who will end up going to that job everyday. It is your life, so, take control of it and make choices that will make you happy.

Take advantage of these years where, for the most part, the choices you make affect mainly you. Enjoy the fact that you’re figuring out life and you don’t have strong ties to any place, job or kids yet. Take every chance you get to experience something new, even if not everyone approves.

Don’t let your selfish years fly by without taking advantage of being young and having possibilities. Life sometimes sucks, but it is a journey nonetheless.

It’s up to us to make the most of it.

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The Selfish Years