It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness is a story.
— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Why We Want What We Can't Have

Before I really start getting into this post I would like to apologize to anyone who does come to this site to read or listen. I have been taking a short break from blogging and podcasting for a number of reasons that I will get to at another time. It wasn't my intention but it just kind of happened, and then it kept happening. Anyway...back to my originally planned program.

Have you ever found yourself asking 'why you want what you can't have?'

Of course you have. You're a human being. You did it as a child, even if you didn't realize it and you (we) still do it now. 

Or maybe I should just speak for myself? Yeah that's probably best. I'm not in the business of putting words in people's mouths because it's never fun when it happens to you.

I can confidently say that I've been wanting what I can't have since I was old enough to verbally say that I wanted something. That's basically 30 years of experience right there so I'd like to think I'm kind of a pro at this point.

Remember when you were at [insert random store] with your parents and you saw something that in retrospect was dumb as fuck but at the time you really wanted it? Nay, you NEEDED it. You couldn't imagine living your life without it, at least for the 5-10 minutes you were in the store, or until you saw something else you just had to have. 

Kids generally have better imaginations and shorter attention spans. And as kids we imagine how great it would be to have that thing (usually something stupid like a candle holder...no? Oh...yeah I meant that awesome toy...)

Do you remember a time when your parents actually got that thing you really (read: randomly) wanted? Well looking back now as an adult I don't blame parents for not getting their kids stupid shit. What the fuck is a 5 year old going to do with a measuring cup? They aren't tall enough to help out in the kitchen and I'm sure that household has plenty of cups to use for drinking beverages at home. Also said household probably has at least one measuring cup in the cupboard somewhere. 

You know how in the wild, new born animals naturally know what to do, like learn to walk? Well I think the equivalent for humans is learning to want what we can't have. You could argue that I'm baseless in that statement and I would 100% agree with you, but I'll take my chances.

I feel like I was born to want what I can't have. And that's not an invite for pity. I seriously mean it. When I couldn't get the Playstation 2 when it first launched in the year 2000 because a) my parents didn't want to get it for me, b) it was expensive, and c) the thing was out of stock for what seemed like 2 years, my desire for it grew exponentially every passing day I didn't own one. 

I remember being on eBay looking at auctions for the PS2 that were about to end that weren't ridiculously price gouged. I also remember being so disappointed that every PS2 on eBay was going for more than $1,000. Yeah...Sony definitely won the console war that generation.

Can you imagine a world where parents just bought kids whatever it is they wanted? The kids will quickly realize that the thing they wanted is actually pretty fucking lame and then the family would just be stuck with it, or throw it out.

The counterpoint to that is, what if parents selectively bought their kids the useless stuff that they clamor for at the store? Especially the things that are really stupid that they know their kids will forget about. That could potentially teach the kids a lesson that the things they want may not be what they actually want? Or that the things they want might not be all that great?

When those kids grow up to become adults, they could have learned early on that what they don't have, isn't always something that they want. Or better yet, if they get the thing they so desired that it turns out it's not so great. I for sure could have benefited from this.

But what the hell do I know about child rearing? The closest thing is just having been a child that was being reared. (That sounded weird to me too...)

Anywho, how does this relate to me now? Well, it's basically how I still live to this day. It's basic economics. I still desire things that I can't have. Maybe not as much as a when I was a child because I know that things actually cost money. Money that I may or may not have, and even if I do have it, is it the smartest decision?

The difference between me then and now is that I know the difference between 'want' and 'need'. Or so I think I do. When it comes to goods and services, I have to actually think if I really want or need something. There are certainly times when we need to buy something. Then there are times where we just want to buy it. 

If you're financially independent, you get to make those choices for yourself. You must suffer the potential consequences of making a bad purchase. You could always return (save that receipt!) or have an awesome credit card that has a perk that lets you return stuff no questions asked (FYI I have no idea if that is an actual credit card perk that exists...).

But what happens when those wants and needs go beyond things? What happens when it comes to people such as potential friends or lovers? 

I'll tell you what happens. It gets WAY harder. We all live in our own lives, but we share the same reality. We all exist on the same plane. We (people) are not objects. You can't make someone your friend or lover without mutual desire or consent.

When I look at it this way, it makes total sense. It's logical. It's a rational approach. But because I am human, and I've lived my entire life wanting what I can't have, that natural instinct makes it so difficult for me. 

I'm no stranger to rejection. Some rejections hurt less than others. But conversely, some rejections hurt way more than others. 

Rejection sucks. How you deal with it is the difference between climbing out of a whole versus being stuck in it.

At times I am a very rational person and other times I'm a very irrational person. Most of the time it is my emotions that are the drivers of my irrationality. 

I often find myself irrationally upset. It's at those times I have to beat logic into my thoughts. I say beat because it's so easy for my emotional brain to brush off a feeble attempt at reason from it's logical other half. I need to beat my emotional side into submission. It doesn't always work, but self awareness is half the battle.

I know, I know. I'm just stating the obvious. It's the things and people that are unavailable that we want most. Have you ever stopped to think that your imagination of how great a thing or person is, is actually better than how great they actually are? Let that sink in for a second.

I've been guilty of desiring the love and affection of unavailable women. Call it a bad habit of mine. The only way I know how to get over it is to just suffer through the pain and sorrow until the glow of that person fades into nothing, or I force myself to hate them. I have to trick myself into thinking they are awful people. Sometimes they just are awful people. Other times, I just have to pretend because it's too hard for me. Which sounds really immature and stupid, and it is because it's not fair to the other person. I never want to hate anyone that I care about, but I created this bad habit out of necessity. Because I didn't know how else to deal with it. 

I get upset at myself for getting upset.

I need to start thinking that maybe that unavailable person that I have really strong feelings for just isn't that great in real-life. Maybe there's a reason why they aren't available. Not just the fact that they might not share the same feelings, they may have other shit going on in their life, and/or maybe, just maybe, they are not the right person for me.

I need to stop thinking "what if" because I often get lost in hypothetical scenarios and make decisions based on things and outcomes that I want. People often use their gut when it comes to love and romance. Nothing wrong with that. The idea of that is actually quite romantic. But if you're like me and your gut is often times wrong, maybe try the opposite of what your gut says from time to time. Easier said than done, but it's seriously worth considering.

I'll be the first to say, there is no painless way of getting rejected or getting over a rejection. What brings me peace is that I know I'm not the only one going through what I go through. Well...peace makes it seem like I'm happy that we all suffer. But that's not what I mean. What I mean is that we are all human, and it's these experiences that make us human. Also it makes me feel like less of a weirdo. My words, not yours.

*This post was originally posted on April 27, 2017 and was edited on April 28, 2017.

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