Wants and Needs

July 19, 2019

Is it a want or a need? That’s a statement I have used most of my life when it comes to budgeting decisions, thanks in most part to my beautiful, witty mother, Mary Linda.

In my college apartment, I had an index card taped to the frame of my front door that said, “Is it a want or a need?,” like a reminder to take care of my money  and don’t buy stupid shit.

I still often use that phrase.

Do I need that new Kat Von D highlighter palette, or do I want that palette?

Do I need to grab sushi to-go, or do I want to grab sushi to-go?

Or my favorite: Do I need another bloody mary, or do I want another bloody mary (this one has often been both)?

I really love Bloody Mary’s. This I know. It’s always a want that becomes a need. 

While I have used this statement primarily to curb my desire to spend money on things that won’t serve a purpose in my life other than instant (and fleeting) gratification, I recently realized it is also relevant in my overall life; however, in a much different sense.

Lately what I want, has become what I NEED. I’ll explain.

I am a newly-recovering (still sometimes failing) people-pleaser. I thought the purpose of my life was putting others’ desires before mine. This is not to be confused with helping the fellow human, but I take “help” to the extreme. I confuse “help” and “if I do this will people like me more?”

I would like to let you, my three dear readers (Mary Linda, Schlo, and the random person who stumbles across this blog, thank you all for being here) in on a couple secrets I have learned through life: a) people do not like you based on the decisions you make for your life, b) if you make decisions based on what other people think of you, you run a very high risk of not liking the life you’ve created.

So that’s where I’m sitting currently. I am sitting at a crossroads of “want” and “need” for my life. Except, in this instance, want and need are not actually a crossroads at all, but the same road, going in the same direction with the same destination at the end. Literally the roads and the destination are all the same; this metaphor has gone off-track (pun intended), but please bear with me. I need to take that road in order to figure out what’s going to fill my cup, light a fire in my belly, give me a purpose, sort to speak.

I think I know what the destination of Want and Need looks like, I think I have an idea of what I want that destination to look like, but here’s the problem: I have never used the GPS to Want and Need, I have never looked at a map to Want and Need, and I got confused by the guy at the gas station who was trying to give me directions to Want and Need.


Because I have been so busy doing what other people tell me I want and what other people tell me I need.

In the last few weeks I have had more than one “table-flipping-fuck-this-shit,” moment, because I knew I was not on the road to the destination for Want and Need. Because here’s the deal, this is why I knew I was on the wrong road, or had missed my turn, or got off an exit too soon–and this is big, so please hear me out:

Nobody, except you, is responsible for your joy. And nobody, except you, is responsible for your happiness. And nobody, except you, knows what your heart truly desires.

That’s it, that’s the directions to Want and Need. Take responsibility for your joy, happiness, and heart’s desires, and then follow the things that bring you more of the same goodness.

Before my three readers get upset and storm my inbox, I would like to clarify a couple things:

·         Many of the people in my life who have offered my guidance on what direction I should take were (and still are) very kind-hearted people with my best intentions in mind; however, I did not take the pertinent action of asking myself if what they were telling me to do would realllly be what I wanted.

·         Just because I let others influence so many big (and small) decisions in my life, does not mean I am bitter about the decisions that were made, or the lessons I learned from those experiences. On the contrary, I am so grateful for every choice I’ve made or been influenced by in my life. If it weren’t for these choices, I may never have gotten to this point and this realization.

·         I am still open to suggestions from others, I am just now going to take said suggestions and weigh them against what feels good and what feels right to me.

My last bit of advice: if you or anyone you love suffers from people-pleasing, please give grace. They are learning. They are trying. You don’t know what got them to this point in their lives, so the less judgement you pass on, the better. Also, letting that person know that whatever decision they make for themselves, will be received by you, without judgement, goes a very long way. Because that’s where a lot of this people-pleasing disease gets healed: in the act of acceptance.

Now tape an index card to your back door to remind yourself that ten boxes of Suddenly Salad is not a need just because it’s on sale. 

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