Everyone hears this every once in a while. Heck, I’ve given this advice myself before. Usually it’s given when someone wants or needs to change something; about themselves or their life. I believe in making changes for yourself, of course, but there are a thousand more things you do every day for yourself besides.

When it comes to motivation, there isn’t anything a lot more motivating than selfishness. When you’re heading to lunch and you know there’s going to be a huge line, nothing is motivating you more than your selfish need to eat food sooner rather than later. And don’t go arguing that it’s a matter of survival, because you aren’t going to starve if one person gets their food before you do. Traffic doesn’t bother people because it means that everyone has to stay on the road a little longer than expected, it’s because the individual believes that he or she has the right to have things go the way expected.

Unfortunately, I’ve always been the backwards child. I was sitting in my Chemistry 1210 class of a hundred people this morning, listening to my group talk about the assignment when I realized that they don’t think I’m very good at chemistry. I’ve gotten so used to being in classes with people who automatically think I’m smart that I didn’t really know how to react to this.

My motivation in school has always been selfish, of course. I like it when people think I’m naturally smart and good at everything; I especially like it when my teachers think I’m competent. I liked it that I got better grades than all my siblings while I was in high school. This motivation was easily put to work in AP Chemistry last year because there were only four of us and I had a lot more individual attention. Even though I was, by far, the least competent kid in the class, I had a reputation of persistence and hard work that I couldn’t let slip. This selfishness was easily kept in check because there was ample opportunity for me to feed the beast.

Now, however, there are a hundred students in my Chemistry class and I have almost no individual attention. I have no reputation to uphold and, as I discovered this morning, I lack my main source motivation. I don’t have anyone to impress. Thus, I am left with the old “do it for yourself.”

Now, not all of my motivation is recognition. I’m a very curious person. I love to learn and enjoy doing so on my own without recognition. I’ve just never had to use it as my primary source of motivation. I’m not sure if I have enough natural curiosity and general nerdiness to sustain me through college. I definitely won’t be motivated by a desire to better my future. For some reason, the future has never really interested me. I mean, I have a four year plan type thing for college and a general idea of what I’m going to do, but I figure I don’t care whether it works out that way or not.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should do productive, good things for whatever reason you can find, selfish or not, and if you’re going to do it for yourself, make sure you’re worth it or else you’ll never make it.