How I Choose My Wants
I always walk out of my therapist sessions feeling immensely refreshed and fulfilled. That one hour sweeps away a week’s, or two, worth of stress, anxiety, and depression. I leave learning the greatest life lessons that fill me up with all the steely power I need to face the full week ahead of me.
This past week, my therapist gifted me the knowledge of understanding the underlying difference between needing and wanting. Yes, I know, how simple, right? These two terms are so self-explanatory that it’s almost impossible to define them without using the words themselves. Except when it comes to how they define our lives and what meanings we attach to them with our own perspectives, the words may as well be foreign.
For me, I used to believe “wanting” was an act of personal desire, sometimes even selfishly, and that it was a luxury I could only afford myself if I absolutely believed I deserved it. So my decisions boil down to whether I truly need something—how badly would it impact my life I didn’t have this—or if it was a want that I could simply live without, unless the universe willed it as a need, instead.
For a majority of my life, I didn’t give in to my wants because I never believed I really deserved much. Any small reward had to face further speculation in my mind through complicated analyses of what was truly attached to receiving these gifts. Will this lead to a regretful consequence? Is there an ulterior motive to this act I should be aware of? Do I really deserve this or is it a test and my passing will reveal a truer reward?
“It’s not possible to do everything alone, so don’t ask this of yourself. Let your plans grow tall and strong and strange in the light of other people’s love”
So when she said, “It’s in our human nature to need someone. That is just how we were created and we aren’t meant to live in this world all alone. But your want to have someone is not a sign of weakness in your independence, it’s a choice you’re making for yourself and for your life. Your wanting someone is your choosing that you deserve someone who loves you just as much as you love yourself.”
Mind. Freaking. Blown.
All of a sudden, in a whirlwind of self-awakening and a burst of shattered inner ceilings, I realized I was answering to a newer and mentally aroused version of myself. My wants were actually telling me that I have accomplished so much more for myself and have achieved so many of my mental goals, and that I was ready for whatever wants of my choosing.
I got to…choose me. What a beautifully infinite feeling.
Photography by Steven Chen
Wanting anything became a direct correlation to my insecurities. And my mounting insecurities meant I wasn’t allowed to want anything wonderful until I worked my ass off for it. Then can it become an award for my hard work that I’m allowed to accept.
But as I began my journey of self-love, I leaned into my happiness more and listened to the wants tugging at my heart. I wanted to meet new people so I went to events alone. I wanted to spend more time relaxing so I took days off. I wanted to explore my settings more so I walked aimlessly around. I wanted to travel so I booked flights. I wanted nice things so I. Bought. Myself. Nice. things.
This was how it’s been for a while and I didn’t think much of it. I felt joy in finally doing things for myself and every little act that came from a place of want meant I was learning to love myself more and more. I thought, Wow, this whole self-love thing is great and empowering, and all I had to do was fulfill what I wanted. And yet, the more I loved myself, the more I wanted someone else to enjoy this self-love journey with me.
How is it that you can learn to love yourself so fiercely, so fully, but it’s still not enough to fill the void of someone else’s? Why is it not enough to be so adamantly and vehemently independent that you didn’t have to want someone in that way, too?
I brought these tantalizing questions to my therapist, getting progressively louder and aggressive with each question, not understanding why it bothered me this much, but it did and I was angry with myself. And since she has helped me from the beginning of my self-love journey and has seen every struggle and every win, every breakdown and every breakthrough, it’s safe to say she knows me pretty damn well and that’s why I take everything she says intensely in its entirety.
See, wanting something or someone doesn’t have to mean what I righteously deserve. I now know that it’s my body, my power, and my own love all coming together to communicate to me who I am now and what I’m ready for. My anxieties, insecurities, and worries are what’s telling me otherwise in my head.
Today, and each day forward, I’ll define want as a choice I make to empower myself further. I no longer want to associate it as a reward only given when I deserve it or a temporary joy that only bandages a deeper wound. I want my wants to be of my choosing, from my heart to my head.
From myself to myself.