Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I want and need in life. What I need is the essentials, but what I want somehow feels equally essential in spite of the fact that my needs should be the aim of my focus. Perhaps, this is one of the mistakes I’ve been making. As you know, I generally make a lot of mistakes, but I don’t mind, because I rarely make the same mistake more than once. If I do, I suppose I didn’t learn all that I could from the situation and so it’s good that I get the opportunity to learn more so that I can make better choices in the future.
Well, this ‘needs versus wants’ have taken up a lot of my time, because I can’t for the life of me understand why I can’t get both. I think I’m starting to understand that a little better and it has led me back to the eternal question: Who am I really?
The other day I saw my reflection in a mirror, and instead of feeling annoyed with myself as I usually do, I stared back at myself and I had this strange realisation that the person in the mirror isn’t who I am. It’s just a reflection, or something like a shadow of who I am.
In front of me was an adult, a grown-up woman figure, a few wrinkles here and there already showing even though I still feel quite young. I’ll be 33 this year, but I remember when I was half that age – it seemed like people in their thirties were absolutely ancient.
I don’t feel like an adult. I feel more like a very tall child. Most of my life all I wanted was that someone would take care of me, protect the child that I am, so that I don’t have to pretend that I’m a grown-up. But the truth is, I am all grown up.
I’m all grown up.
Even if someone were to take care of me, they wouldn’t be able to give me what I need – not really. They would only be able to give me what I want (because I can ask for that), what they need or what they believe that I need. They can’t give me what I need, because only I can do that. Of course, you might argue that I can ask what for I need and then get what I need, but to me it just doesn’t feel like they are giving me what I need, only what I want. It can be difficult for me to really know what I need, so when I ask for something it feels like I ask for what I think I need – which would really be what I want.
It is possible for people to give you what you need sometimes, I am sure that’s right. Sometimes, what we need is the same as others and sometimes it is so very obvious to others what we need that they would be blind not to see.
Perhaps, what I am trying to say isn’t that others can’t give us what we need, more that we shouldn’t rely on others giving us what we need. At the heart of the matters is this; we can only rely on ourselves to give us what we really, truly need.
Now, don’t go misunderstanding. Most of us, if not all of us, needs other people too. We need to feel loved and cared for, but that is our own need and only we can make that happen. If you blame others for being lonely or not having enough social interaction, or not being cared about – well, okay, maybe you just met a lot of horrible people. It happens I’m sure. In my case, it wasn’t like that. It was that I reached out to those horrible people, albeit subconsciously.
I wasn’t upon to the fact that others might like me, I tended to assume that people hid their bad intentions behind fake smiles and fake gestures of kindness. I thought I was un-loveable. I was always braced for impact – ready to run when someone turned into their true, dark selves.
Being upon to meet other likeminded people, and making an effort to do it as well, is something that I still struggle with. I am utterly terrified that I’ll misunderstand something, talk too much or behave in a rude or ridiculous manner without knowing it. I want to make the effort though, because one of the things I want in life is being cared for in the way I need to be cared for. I don’t need people, and if they don’t like me or treat me poorly, I don’t need them in my life.
If people can care for me like I need to be cared for, then I want them in my life as friends, partners, colleagues, even family or whatever other form they come in. If not, being all alone without any social interaction is better for me.
This difference between what I need and want is quite essential for me to get right. If people care for me but doesn’t care for me in the way I need, I end up hurting myself. I try to fit in and be someone I’m not, like all my years in university. I had people who cared about me, but the way they cared was actually hurting me. I thought I needed them, needed their flawed displays of affection or even their toxic behaviour. I cared for them a lot, but now many years later, I realise that my affection wasn’t good for them either.
I need myself more than anything else. I need to trust myself more than anyone else. I need to believe in myself.
I want others in my life. I want to trust others.
There is a difference.
Back then, I was young and inexperienced in life. Now, I am older, hopefully wiser, yet I still feel just as inexperienced in life.
When I looked in the mirror and realised I didn’t know who I am, followed by the realisation that I am all grown up and that I am the only one who can really tell what I need – thus the one I should turn to when in doubt of what I need, I thought I would feel relief. I thought I would feel good.
It was not liberating or wonderful, it was horrifying…. Because I know me. I am useless.
Others tell me I’m not, but that doesn’t change how useless I feel.
I have no confidence that I can give myself what I need, which is probably why I was hoping someone else could either tell me or give it to me.
Again, this is a need to figure out who I am – not who I think I am, who I want to be or who I was or could be, no… Who I am right now, this very moment, it feels important.
I don’t know if I change tomorrow or a month from now, odds are I will, but it doesn’t change the fact that I, deep from within, feel a need to figure myself out. It also feels like a task that will never end, since the one constant in life is change, but should that stop us from making the effort?
Maybe, some of the things I will discover about myself will be some truths about myself that may stay with me for most of my life, but then again, maybe some things are only true for a single breath of my life.
To understand that I want to be cared for in the way I need feels important. So important in fact, that if even members of my family break it and I end up hurting myself because of them, I am sure that I don’t need them in my life even if I want them to be a part of my life.
That can be a challenge, I think. What do we do when we want people, special people like family, in our lives, but they only bring us pain? They hurt us, refuse to accept us or even refuse to love us? What do we do when they make us behave in ways that we don’t like, not because they force us to be different, but because we can’t hold on to our needs when confronted with this people?
I don’t know.
I wish I did, but I don’t.
My heart tells me that these people aren’t at fault, I feel like I am the one lacking; self-worth, self-confidence or maybe it is that I am not accepting who they are and what they need. In any case, I don’t blame myself for this, but I do accept my own responsibility in the matter.
I hope that as I start to figure myself out, some sort of solution to this conundrum will present itself. I doubt that it will, but I won’t give up hope.
Knowing that I don’t need people in my life, but that I do need the people I have in my life to care about in a certain way makes life a little easier, I think. I won’t have to bend out of shape to fit into other peoples lives, just like I don’t need others to bend out of shape to fit into my world. I want to have likeminded people in my life, people who just naturally fit into my world and vice versa. If they don’t, then I don’t need them – even if I still want them in my life.
The difference between what I need and what I want can sometimes only be seen or understood long after the moment of choice has passed, which seems terribly unfair.
I still don’t understand why I can’t have both what I want and need, but I do realise that sometimes we have to make a choice. A choice about whether our needs or our wants are most important, because it’s just not always possible to have both. I hope that when such a moment comes into my life again, I will know myself well enough to make the best decision for myself so that I won’t hurt myself unnecessarily ever again.
… And if the day comes when I choose to hurt myself for someone else, then I hope that I can accept those consequences without blaming anyone else and forgive myself for my choices.