One of the most interesting things about humans, I think, is our ability to “want” things. Not things we NEED, like food, shelter, clothing, sense of purpose and the occasional romp in the hay, no no. On top of all that, we each have very different but specific types of WANTS. I think of WANTS as like the icing on your cupcake. You don’t NEED icing really to make a cup cake a cup cake (cup cakes enthusiasts everywhere are crying BLASPHEMY!) , but that icing adds just that little bit of extra, it sweetens the deal, n’est pas?
Many times, a lot of us have a hard time distinguishing between our wants vs needs, as sometimes our wants feel overwhelmingly valuable and, well, necessary, somehow.
There are a lot of great articles that outline how to tell the difference between a want vs a need, so I won’t spend much time on that here.
What I AM interested in is how we do or do not allow ourselves to have wants. When I think about the wants that I have, or even admitting that there are certain things I do with my time and money that are explicitly want based, I feel guilty. I feel childish, as if to be an adult means that you shrug off any wants that you have and only do practical and needs-based shit with your time and money, all the time always. Otherwise, you’re a screaming baby with no self control crying for a popsicle even though you already have an ice cream in your hand or something.
I realized that along the way of self discovery, I began to believe that knowing and acting on my wants=bad/selfish/immature and knowing and acting on my needs=good/responsible/thoughtful
But is giving into our wants such a bad thing all the time?
It certainly can be, especially if what we want are totally unreasonable requests from others or from the world at large, or if what we want is to harm ourselves through addiction or other means of self sabbotage, or if what we want is for Stephen Harper to remain in office….All these kinds of wants can have negative impacts to our lives, and are wants that require some thought and some check in around the core thought or idea that they
are stemming from. Because our wants are often tied to a root need, if we find ourselves with negative want patterns, we may need to do a little psychological sleuthing to get to the bottom of why those wants exist and what needs are not being met that are causing those wants to manifest. Doing some deep self examining can be a real pain in the patoot, and can take a long time, but it’s worth it.
Sometimes our wants are exactly what make us special little sparkles in the universe! And allowing room for some of our wants to be expressed can be very healing and helps us carve out a sense of our unique self.
For me, perhaps because of my Taurean heart, having a beautiful and functional home space is a BIG want for me. Recently, when I moved into my new home here in Guelph, my partner had to be patient with me as I acted out sometime perceivably “unreasonable” wants, such as going out and buying new plants and planters that all matched for every room in the house because a house doesn’t feel like a home to me until there are plants in it. When he suggested maybe we just wait to accumulate things like planters over time from thrift stores or on the side of the road, I paused and felt a moment of guilt.
Normally, I would totally agree with him, and yet, in this instance, I felt GOOD about my WANT to have plants. I WANTED to WANT! I had to assert that this want was very important to me, even though it was not a need, and that for me it was worth paying money for and spending time in strip mall hell in order to have a house that felt home-y as quickly as humanly possible.
Afterwards, as people started to come over to our place only 2 weeks or so after moving in, they’d say that it felt like we’d always lived there, and that it truly felt “like a home”. Those comments were so intensely satisfying to me, and I feel 100% ok with having a need like “making a nice home” define some part of my character and behaviour.
I believe that, especially for women who have been socialized to be caregivers and to meet the needs of others before meeting our own needs, let alone meet our WANTS, god forbid, the act of allowing yourself to say YES to your wants can be very empowering. To shrug off the feeling of guilt and say “fuck it I’m getting that hot fudge brownie” can be as liberating as a bra burning ceremony, depending on how much time you’ve spent pushing your wants down in lieu of meeting other people’s needs all the time.
While I’ll still caution the reader to take “everything in moderation”, I also challenge you to think about a want that you have tucked away somewhere that maybe you could dip your toe into every once in a while. This blog post acts as your permission slip to indulge in exactly what makes you YOU. WANT AWAY YOU SPECIAL SPARKLE!