life is not about your own personal journey to happiness.

by - 6/14/2018



Life is not about you. 

I don't particularly know of a better opener. A couple of nights ago I watched Lady Bird for the first time, and in expecting just a stupid teen drama (it is that as well) I got something worse. I got something vapid, and pointless, and wandering, and I got something that, to put it simply, pissed me off. 

Life. Is not. About. You. 

Culture right now is about you, you, you, you. Discover yourself! Be yourself! Don't let anyone tell you what not to be! These fictional teenagers in their 'heartwarming' 'relatable' stories drink, and hook up, and go around in swirls of drama and angst and anger toward anyone in their lives who seems not to understand them. Adults do the same. We learn to accept ourselves, we learn to accept others the way they are, we learn that our lives are about what makes us happy, what makes us feel welcome. Look at how beautiful we all are! Look at how varied! Look at how we live our truths! (whatever a statement like that means.) In the middle of all this, teen angst and misery and rebellion and unhealthy behaviors is the norm, and a part of the journey, and not once, you'll notice, in all of these things, does anyone stop and ask the main character to pull it together. 

Or they do, and they're ruthlessly torn apart for it. 

The truth is: Life isn't about you. It isn't about discovering yourself and living your best life. Our lives are not our own, and when we concern them with what makes us happy at the expense of others...well, that's a pretty miserable way to live, and if I'm wrong, I don't want to be right. 

For all we mock fairy tales and old stories, they've got more value than we acknowledge. Those stories give us heroes. People to aspire to be, or people who learn to be that way themselves. They go beyond themselves. They save someone else, they exercise virtue, good is good and bad is bad and the wrong path leads to destruction of the body and mind. Fairy tales ask us to be more. To live for more. Modern stories tell us that wherever we are, that's okay, and others should accept that. 

Let me say it again: life isn't about you and what makes you happy. It's not about others treating you or accepting you the way you think you deserve. It's not about getting the respect you think you should inherently receive, regardless of whether or not you've earned it. (there is a difference between asking to be respected as a human being on this earth and demanding that every facet of you is respected no matter how you treat others.) I'm coming from a Christian mindset, of course, but even if you aren't, I think it greatly benefits us all to realize the fact that once we live for something bigger than ourselves, we become better people. Happier people, even, even though we've stopped demanding that everything make us feel happy and good. 

Aspire for more. Aspire to be more. Aspire for a life that creates meaning and goodness and heroism (a word that doesn't just relate to killing dragons) regardless of whether or not it makes you feel warm and fuzzy. If this sounds harsh, it's because I'm saying it to myself, because I watched that stupid movie and it made me want to look straight in the mirror and take a good long look at all the ways I could be that insufferable. 

I want to live for meaning. I want to believe in meaning. I want everything I write and do and say to be for a purpose, and not because that's how I'm feeling at the given moment. I'm tired of a society that tells me it's all about me, and I'm especially tired because giving in to that society appeals to the worst of my nature and that's a powerful tug. If I start living a life that revolves around myself, I want someone to slap me upside the head for it, and I want to pay attention to that slap. When the greatest concern in my life becomes my own personal identity and how tied up my own wants and likes are to it, I hope someone talks some sense into me.

I don't know. With every movie I watch or every YA (or otherwise) book I read, I start to think that maybe it would be nice to get back to Cinderella for a change. Maybe we don't need morally ambiguous antiheroes and bratty teen girls who happen to be quirky. Maybe we should rage against a culture that's nihilistic and self-obsessed and easy. Maybe we need right, and wrong, and dragons that need slaying, and a purpose that goes beyond us, so we can stop looking in the mirror for two seconds. 


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12 Comments

  1. THANK YOU FOR VOICING THIS. What a powerful post! I don't think people quite realize that living for yourself won't ultimately make you happy. Living a meaningful life for Christ will bring so much more joy, even though it's a much harder way to live.

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  2. It's sad that sometimes it's easy for a lot of we Christians (I'm speaking about myself as well) to forget that we were meant to serve others. I recently watched a video on how a person explained that Jesus was a leader, yet he served others. For example, when he washed his disciples feet.

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  3. Hm, I guess I deserve that slap in the face. But it still hurts.

    Thanks for the reminder that life is about me. I needed that, no matter how hard I try to run away from it.

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  4. I adore your posts, and you as a human being. Look at you go, spreading truth left and right. Heck yeah!

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  5. I've been missing Cinderella lately too. Everything is getting so convoluted and there are too many grey areas.

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  6. OOOOOH GIRL. You are magical at hitting on the things I believe in so strongly. My family literally has to hear me rant about this at least weekly. Sometimes daily! Really, we all rant about it together. Because ugh. UGH. I am SICK of this world preaching SELF. It's all about "believing in yourself" "being your true self" "loving yourself first" yadda yadda. That is such poison! And oh man is it bad in movies, TV shows, and YA books, yes! It sickens me.

    We now live in a culture where the more you love yourself, the more you're respected and just??? Humility is now a BAD trait. People honest to goodness are in love with people who are selfish and vain. Why is that attractive now???

    I LOVE how you brought up fairytales and Cinderella. I wrote a whole post about Cinderella at one point because I MISS having heroines like that. I miss sweet, good, wholesome, humble, SELFLESS characters to look up to. That is NOT weak. Those are GOOD traits! Where the more you think about self, the less room you have to love other people. I know some people who are so unbelievably selfish, they're utterly blinded to anyone but them. And yet this culture is saying that the only way to love others is to first think of ourselves??? It's so backwards.

    I'm trying to refrain from writing a comment the size of the Atlanta. I could rant about this with you all day. XD But instead I'll just encompass your whole post in a hug and so THISSSSS. Preach it, sistah! Living in this self-centered world makes me want to go take a 300 year nap. Z_Z

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  7. This is so true, and I hate to see the message of YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU thrown in my face every time I watch a movie or pick up a book or listen to a song. Thanks for posting this!

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  8. Yes, yes, yes YES!!!

    THANK YOU!!!

    You've put my feelings into words and this post expresses everything I think about society! THANK YOU!

    ~Ivie
    Ivie Writes

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  9. Yes Aimee! It's so easy too, to expect anything more from society which is we gotta create stories with different meaning. Living for ourselves and doing only what makes us happy is so boring honestly. Thank you for this!

    -Bethany

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  10. Wow, this is incredibly powerful. I'd like to say I never have this mindset, but of course I do, (we all do), and that's something I really need to work on. Thank you for the reminder!

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  11. A M E N !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bless this post. Bless it, bless it, bless it. I hate this aspect of our culture so much. It's disgusting.

    Your writing Is always filled with so much truth, and I'm so grateful for it.

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