The older you get, the less time you're able to set aside for yourself. Reaching adulthood comes with an avalanche of unexpected obligations, from overtime at work to family gatherings you can no longer opt out of because you have finals.
And when you do finally make time for yourself, it's like a radar goes off.
The moment you sit down to relax, everyone suddenly needs you for something. Short of turning your phone off and hiding in the nearest closet, it's impossible to avoid the constant flow of expectations.
And though they don't always mean to, the people in your life will often make you feel guilty for putting yourself first.
God forbid you skip your third cousin's eleventh soccer game of the season! What do you mean you wanted to work on yourself? What kind of selfish monster are you?
Okay, so it isn't always so outwardly hostile. But declining invitations and taking a break from responsibilities is too often perceived as a selfish move. And though this mindset isn't always a conscious one, it reveals itself in the responses we receive when we finally say "no."
The negative reactions to that word condition us to feel guilty when we actually use it. And that just isn't fair.
Human beings need time to recharge, particularly the introverted ones. We need time to wind down and focus on ourselves.
But the truth is, we've become such a fast-paced society that the concept of taking time for self-reflection is frowned upon.
Things like personal development and hobbies are considered luxuries in this day and age. They're only to be granted after burning yourself out, and only if you have absolutely nothing else you could be doing at that moment. And let's be honest here, there's always something else you could and should be doing.
It's easy to see why large numbers of adults feel drained all the time.
We need to ditch this culture that pressures us to say "yes" to everything.
We need to lose the mindset that we shouldn't ignore a phone call or spend a night inside.
We need to accept that self-time is a priority, and we need to practice this acceptance. Often.
And most of all, we need to stop apologizing for it.