As millennials, we are constantly being told to be selfish and unapologetic.

Just do you.

Be a bad b*tch.

#sorrynotsorry

While this may be sound advice for someone trying to be themself, getting through a rough time, or expressing themselves in a safe and peaceful way, there’s a couple of things that can go wrong when you apply these a bit too seriously to your own character development.

It’s hard to criticize ourselves yet we are our own worst critic. It’s a total contradiction and one hell of a conundrum. We tend to be pretty pleased with ourselves and our actions, hence why we do and say the things we do. However, at the same time, we find ourselves in moments of pure self-loathing and regret or embarrassment when we realize that we messed up or could have done something differently or better if only we had taken an alternative course of action.

Despite these moments of self-reflection, millennials tend to skip out on the whole spiritual cleansing process that comes with criticizing yourself. We tend to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and focus on what everyone else did wrong and how those actions justify our own rather than in dealing with our weaknesses in an objective manner. Everyone has flaws — that’s a given. What’s truly important about this fact, and what sets you apart from other flawed people, is your willingness to accept, improve, and admit your shortcomings.

For 20-somethings that want to do life their own way and feel as though their mistakes are okay because they’re young, listening to others when they say you have a bad attitude, should apologize when you’ve done no wrong, or need to calm down can be a matter of dully noted opinion. It’s tough to take other people seriously when we feel so strongly about the opposite of what they are saying.

This is where our pride comes in.

It can be dangerously easy to become blinded by our own perceptions and fail to see how our actions, as innocent or just as they may be, can lead to consequences or hurt feelings. It’s important to learn how to criticize yourself while maintaining your self love and admiration in a healthy balance. We aren’t perfect. We’re human and sometimes that means experiencing jealousy, greed, pride, and anger. What we do with these emotions comes with time, patience, and an understanding that it’s okay to feel them. It doesn’t make you less of a good person to become jealous or angry when provoked. It basically just means you have feelings and are responding to a situation that stimulates them. What happens next is what determines your character. Knowing when to think critically of yourself and act accordingly is the key to acting rationally and graciously versus creating one of those moments you’ll look back on with regret.

In a time where being mean is celebrated as a sign of strength, it’s comforting to know that learning how to listen to others and review your actions can set your apart in the best of ways.