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Kristen Bryant / Her Campus

The Difference Between What You WANT and What You Think You Should Want

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Though it might seem obvious, the first step in learning to prioritize yourself is learning what you authentically like. The simple things that make you smile, the people who bring out your most genuine self, the music that makes the hair on your arms stand up straight. As women cruising through our twenties, the issue is that there are hundreds of stimuli telling us what we should want. Our parents might tell us that spending time with our families is fulfilling; our professors will point toward academic success; advertisements tell us that consumption will bring us contentment; and as a woman, most everything suggests a man is the answer. Navigating what makes you truly happy as a young woman is a lot of work. It requires blocking out the bullsh*t thrown at you from every direction and focusing your energy on getting to know you.

As a university student, much of this personal exploration surrounds going out culture. In your twenties, you are expected to go out and enjoy it. That is one of the ideas that we are fed as a fact. This creates enormous pressure: to go out every weekend, enjoy it, and maintain that hypothetically always-charged social battery. The truth is that this lifestyle is not for everyone. Acknowledging that going out is something you should want to do instead of something you feel like you should do gives you so much freedom. Now, you can go out when you really want to, but you can stay in on nights you are not up for it, because you are honouring your true desires.

Though this is not a shiny new piece of information, it is essential to mention it while exploring this topic. Cutting down your time spent on social media can help you understand what truly excites you as an individual. Social media creates so much pressure to adhere to other people’s agendas. The pressure to perform and be perfect is exhausting and confusing. The whole basis of Instagram relies on getting likes and attention from other people. Simply put, you are living your life to obtain other people’s approval. Furthermore, the constant comparison that social media fosters can cause you to doubt your natural providers of happiness. If everyone else seems happiest when they go out clubbing on the weekends, why aren’t you? This is a major roadblock in the process of self-prioritization.

Finally, spending time alone—even when uncomfortable—is extremely important when learning about yourself. Nobody is the same as you. Nobody will share all the same loves, hobbies and interests as you. Finding the things you love independently of the people around you and carving out time to explore those things is so important. Maybe you adore a band whose music doesn’t resonate with your friends, or you have a specific route you like to walk by yourself. Allowing yourself have your own things, no matter what they are, can help you identify what brings you profound and authentic joy.

Maya Gelfand

Queen's U '24

Maya Gelfand is a third year film and media student at Queens University.