Dear Twenty-somethings, it’s Not All About You

I learned a new texting abbreviation at my sister’s graduation over the weekend, but I doubt it’s one I’ll ever use in a text.

NAAY: Not All About You.

The speaker at a nursing pinning ceremony who introduced the audience to the made-up term said it applies especially to graduates like my sister, nurses who care for patients with the type of medical expertise few others have and the type of compassion few others show.

Nurses have to go into work each day and remember it’s not all about them – it’s about the patient and making sure that person’s health-related needs are met.

But even the rest of us who don’t have the medical chops or caring nature to be nurses can benefit from internalizing the idea of NAAY.

Because in life, no matter how old we are, it really is not all about us.

I remember seeing this type of message early in my college days, in the “About Me” section of the Facebook profile of a person I came to truly admire.

Maybe it was sarcasm or a bit of irony, an attempt to rebel against a text field that asks the profile-holder to be even more selfish than usual by purposefully writing all about themselves. Maybe it was a self-awareness not many 18-year-olds have. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Because the end result was the same. Here was someone who understood it’s not all about you, and helped me on the path to understanding it, too.

Twenty-somethings seem to get a particularly bad rap in this regard, especially those of us who are childless and/or single. The world often overgeneralizes about “Millennials” assuming we’re selfish kids who think society owes us a fun and stress-free job, great money, chances to travel the world and party often, plenty of awards and prizes, the boyfriend/girlfriend/partner of our dreams, gourmet food and designer everything.

That’s wrong, wrong, wrong – but harder to disprove when too many of us are self-focused and haven’t yet learned it’s not all about us. Myself included.

Of course there are plenty of us who have moved past this all-about-me type of selfishness, people who spend their time coaching special needs basketball teams, mentoring at-risk kids or starting nonprofits designed to help women learn to love themselves. These unselfish twenty-somethings give us all a good name and deserve our sincere respect and thanks.

But there are also plenty of us who are just as self-focused as the “entitled Millennial” stereotype, but not in flashy ways. Overburdened by the demands of our jobs, social and family lives and household chores, many of us are thinking only about what we need to get through the day – how to fit in a workout, two or more hours of driving, 12 hours of work and maybe a few minutes of picking clothes and packing a lunch and watching a Bulls game … all without collapsing.

These types of twenty-somethings also need an “it’s not all about you” reminder.

Because no matter how busy we are, it’s not. Because no matter who we are, NAAY stands true: it’s Not All About You.

So on second thought, maybe I will use NAAY in a text some day. Because I, for one, need constant reminders that it’s really not all about me.


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