Whose Life Is It Anyway?

“You save yourself or you remain unsaved.” – Alice Sebold, Lucky

Often times, I find myself wanting to help others with their personal problems. I almost made this my career – I was in grad school for some time getting a Masters in Counseling – and then stopped. I wish I could say that this need or want is completely altruistic, but it isn’t. I do it because it makes me feel good about myself. I can convince myself that I have indeed helped the person who needs it, and therefore they are grateful to me – but this isn’t always the case. Nor should it be.

Because I also use this need or want in order to avoid my own problems. We are all broken individuals, in some way. All of us. I don’t care if you’re a billionaire or Mother Teresa. There are things about ourselves that pain us, chip away at us day after day after day. And sometimes we cover those things up instead of looking at them for what they are, facing them head on, and accepting them. This isn’t to say that flaws can’t be fixed; often times, they can, but it takes a long journey in order to so.

For as long as I can remember, I have always found it better to focus on what other people need instead of my own needs. Again, I’m not being selfless in any way here, and am certainly not trying to portray myself as a victim. These were my choices, because it was easier for me. But, a week and a half before I turn 26, I find myself wondering, “What the fuck do I want?” And the sad part is – I don’t know. And no one else has the answers for me, because they’re busy trying to figure themselves out, just the way that I am. I have yet to face the things that I need to, though. I drown them out quite well, and when they come back at me, then it’s a rough day – one in which I may cry, or yell, or be angsty – but eventually it quiets down. I get interested in other people’s lives, so that my own doesn’t seem so pressing.

But now, I’m faced with the dilemma of what I deserve. The questions start pouring through my brain: When is selfish too selfish? Is it ok to say no (ok, let me rephrase, sure it’s ok to say no, but what will be sacrificed because of it)? Can you be happy even if you don’t get all the things that you want? Is it even about happiness? What does it mean to be satisfied – and what is a reasonable amount of satisfaction?

Sometimes I feel like my very own statue of Liberty – except my inscription reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, and if you are in any way fucked up, we’ll get along swimmingly.”

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