Meeting Your Needs As a Person
Life is full of things we want to do, things we need to do, and then, a more nebulous and harder to define area of things we should do.
Wants, of course, are just that. Things we want, and often, getting or doing things we want gives us some measure of happiness; often, a great deal of happiness.
Needs, on the other hand, are things we need to get by; food, shelter, and other basics. Depending on the train of thought you subscribe to, you could argue for specific emotional needs as well, but for now, I’m going to place that in the want category, as it’s not literally necessary for survival, though you may argue it’s necessary for happiness.
And then there’s the more nebulous things we should do; buy a home instead of rent so you build equity, make more friends instead of focusing on a few so you always have someone to turn to, seek out promotions to make more money so you can be more secure, and similar types of things. There’s other shoulds as well; things like exercise, eat healthy, and so on. You’ll note that some of these shoulds are quite debateable. They’re commonly agreed upon, but perhaps there’s more to it than that? Maybe, this is simply viewed as the road that is most secure instead of the one that leads to the greatest happiness. And perhaps, prioritizing wants or shoulds is a personal preference, and it’s mentally harmful to focus too much on what you should be doing instead of what you want to be doing.
This was the epiphany I’ve been working toward for the past week or two. And it’s taken a lot of time and effort to get myself to this place.
So let’s rewind a bit, to get some relevant background information. I had two incredibly close friends who have recently dropped out of my life. One did so permanently, in spectacular fashion, while the other has just been drifting away for a long time, and we’re still trying, but it feels like an uphill battle to find time sometimes. Suffice to say, that was not a great time for me.
Throughout this, I’ve had another close friend and roommate, who we’ll call Jean, who has been incredibly helpful and supportive. We don’t always speak the same language, but we always have each others backs and do our best for each other. She’s often pushed me to not grow so attached to people, though she knows as well as I do that it’s just not my way. I seek incredibly strong bonds of friendship, and attachment comes with the territory. She’s acknowledged this as well, just as I’ve acknowledged where I see what she says makes sense, even if I don’t think it fits for me.
I’ve also had some other realizations, and while talking with her about these, she gave me another incredibly important piece of advice; It’s ok if change takes time. Change is hard for most people, and recognizing there’s something to change makes you aware of it, so you can start to see the opportunities to change and grow.
It’s safe to say her advice and support has gone a long way toward helping me figure things out, even if my conclusions have come to be wildly different than she may have expected.
This brings me to another friend, who has much more recently come into my life, but has had a similar impact on my thinking lately. We’ll call her Lisa.
Lisa and I have been talking and hanging out for a few months now, and have grown a very close friendship in that time. She’s also been an incredibly supportive friend, though she’s the type to often be supportive and either let me draw my own conclusions, or help guide me to the ideas that make sense to me.
One thing that’s hard for me now is the idea of friends just deciding to up and leave at some point. As you might imagine, this stems very heavily from the two I mentioned earlier but never gave names for leaving or becoming distant.
Being friends with Lisa has reminded me what it’s like to not worry about that. And that in turn has also helped lead me to the most important realization, that everything else stems from. I have to leave room for the present; to enjoy life as it is now, and have faith in myself and the people I care about.
Lisa also gave me one piece of advice, that ties this all back together. When I was talking with her about being conflicted about things I should consider doing vs. things I wanted to be doing, she told me if things are working now, I should focus on what makes me happy now. I could still prepare for the other options to be options, but there’s no need to rush into it.
This leads me back to things I need, things I want, and things I should do or have. Often, when things I should do are at odds with both the things I want and the things I need, I’ve picked bad options for things I should be doing and need to re-evaluate. Because quite frankly, as Lisa advised me, what I should do is what makes me happy, and what meets my needs. Not things that might make me more secure, or might make me more happy at some nebulous point in the future. Rather, things that will make me happy now. Enjoy life now. Be with the people I care about now.
And in a way, doing these things that make me happy, rather than those I’ve been told are best for me, is also meeting my needs, as I alluded to at the beginning when I brought up emotional needs, though didn’t classify them as needs at the time. That’s the important thing I’ve realized. Doing the things that make me happy is important for meeting my needs as a person, and I need to continue doing so, even if they go against the common wisdom.
So moving forward, I encourage you to try considering your needs from this perspective as well. Think about what you’re doing because you “should” do it vs. what you do because you want to do it, and what actually makes you happiest. Consider treating your happiness as something you do for yourself more often, just like taking care of your physical health, and see what kind of difference it makes for you.