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This holiday season, be selfish

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Clichés are the killer of quality writing, but I just have to reference one that applies to this column: When someone says “time is money,” that’s a true statement – really.

If only everyone was as sparing with their time and energy as they are with the money in their wallets. If that was the case, I’d bet each human worldwide would be happier. Our collective level of productivity and day-to-day energy level would rise, too.

I’ve been guilty of clinging to old friendships that no longer serve me. I’ve entertained a situation-ship that had my life’s progression feeling like a hamster wheel for years. Ultimately, these relationships left me feeling overtired and stupid, as if I was frantically searching for diamonds in a junkyard. With the hurt that followed some of those interactions, I believe I gained the most important piece of knowledge I could ever have: Treat time and energy like the digits in your bank account; they are to be handled preciously.

I’m too powerful now, like when Thanos got all the Infinity Stones. All the relationships I keep are reciprocal and positively impact my mental health. I can count the number of close friends I have on one hand, but that’s OK because those friends are more reliable than jumper cables. I have all this newfound time for myself simply because I stopped wasting it on what I don’t care for anymore. I’m evolving.

Through a certain lens, this perspective can be called selfish. However, I’d argue that if your age is 20-something, the present should be the most selfish stage of your life. Now is when we find our passions, what we love most in life and how resilient we can be.

“But, Nathan, the world doesn’t revolve around you,” one might think.

But, this is my life! Of course it does!

I’m not interested in celebrities’ personal happenings anymore. I’m over keeping up with those I don’t have a relationship with in real life or those I’ve outgrown or drifted apart from. Being alive is sweet and way more peaceful only worrying about you and yours.

For example, it’s great to say everything I know about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s apparently crumbling marriage. I learned against my will from seeing their faces plastered on tabloid covers standing in grocery store checkout lines, which I’m doing a lot more of than usual these days. From October forward, my weekends are tightly packed with gatherings full of my loved ones; it’s either somebody’s birthday, there’s a big game to watch or it’s a holiday! The colder months make me feel warm inside because there’s more reasons to go see my favorite people.

In the October-January months, the trajectories of so many are slowed due to seasonal depression. Hell, I’ve felt it, too. But this holiday season, I encourage anybody reading this to be most generous to the person in the mirror. Being cautious with your energy and effort will create more personal time for leisure and self-care!

Everyone in today’s world looks appears so burned out and frantically stressed all the time. I don't know what it is about society, but the itch to know what’s going on in the lives of people who don’t know you personally or care much about you is a great way to stretch yourself thin. I don’t want to get started on social media and how unhealthy it is to know the opinions of everyone on Earth 24/7. Social media is a Trojan horse to the human experience.

In my head, time and money are one in the same. Putting your time, thoughts and effort where they reward you; that’s the key to unlocking smooth-sailing contentment. Because after all, happiness is a fleeting emotion that feels different every time. I’ve found chasing that feeling is exhausting, and if you do capture it, the joy isn’t really what you expected — like when you order something at a drive-thru after waiting forever and it’s actually not all that.

Happiness comes organically, not by searching high and low. People, it’s better to stay even-keel and pursue comfort, not a high. If that means canceling plans, cool. Quitting a job that deteriorates your mental? Absolutely.

Just make yourself feel good first, and let the rest work itself out.

Nathan Manni is a first-generation senior at Northern Arizona University majoring in journalism. He is a full-time student and the editor-in-chief of NAU's student paper, The Lumberjack


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