Earlier this year, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck surprised a lot of fans when he decided to retire from the NFL at age 30. While it appeared that he still had a lot to contribute as a player, injuries had taken a toll on him, and he decided that the game was no longer fun for him and that it would be best for himself if he stepped away from the game.
A lot of fans didn’t take the news well, however. Fans who were at a game when the announcement was made booed him. Many went to social media to express their anger. I was disappointed that so many people were critical of Luck’s decision. Playing in the NFL is brutal on the bodies of those who practice every day and put their bodies through what most of us would consider torture in order to play. If Luck couldn’t bring himself to face that anymore, who are we to be so judgmental?
I’ve thought a lot about this story since it broke back in August. We live in a society where we expect our celebrities to please us all the time and where we throw a fit if they do something that we don’t like. Athletes, actors, and musicians are hardly ever able to make decisions that benefit themselves without people complaining. We should have more compassion and remember that they are only human just like the rest of us. Making millions of dollars entertaining us doesn’t change the fact that everyone needs to do what is best for themselves.
I think this principle applies to all of us in our everyday lives as well. Think about everything that you do on a daily basis. How much of it do you do because you are trying to win the approval of another person? And how much of it are you doing because it’s what’s best for you?
It’s the holiday season, which means lots of get-togethers with family and friends. Maybe you have that one (or more) relative(s) who always ask you when you’re going to get married, when you’re going to have a baby, or when you’re going to find a new job. If you haven’t done those things yet (or if you have), I’m assuming it’s because you’re doing what’s best for you in your own life.
Nobody, especially your own family, should pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do. If this happens to you, take it with a grain of salt and move on. Or, confront the situation: Be honest and say that you’re doing what’s best for yourself. And don’t feel bad about it. And if you are one of those relatives or friends who asks these kinds of questions, consider the effect it has on the other person. Even if you don’t realize it, you may be making them feel bad for not meeting your expectations.
At first, it might sound like I’m being selfish by saying all this. Yet self-care is required in order for us to be the best people we can be. How can I be a good husband, parent, son, friend, or employee if I’m not taking care of myself? I feel that by doing things that I like and making decisions that are best for my own being, I will be a better person to all those I care about in the future because of it.
So, as we’re approaching the start of a new year, a lot of us will be making New Year’s resolutions. What are you going to do in 2020? Are you resolving to exercise more? If so, stick with it and don’t cancel your gym membership in March. Are you going to look for a new job? If so, don’t give up after the first rejection. Are you going to read more? If so, don’t just let that stack of books collect dust all year before you decide to donate them to the local library.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re doing it for yourself and not for someone else. The only way you’re ever going to be happy is if you do things that you will enjoy. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t care about other people; you absolutely should. Yet if your goal is to make other people happy, you will always be disappointed. Make your goals for 2020 with you in mind.
Brian Johnston lives in St. Joseph with his wife and two children. You can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/brianjohnstonwriter.