Urges and Wants

This might sound stupid, but focusing, when you're given a choice, on your wants might make you a less selfish person.

I'm not calling you selfish. I'm calling all of us selfish. And I think a lot of the time it's because we drift from urge to urge rather than sitting down and thinking about what we truly want.

Sometimes our urges can match our wants. Then that's fine.

But much of the time, our urge, that pressure, be it internal or external, comes from another place. It certainly doesn't come from a reasoned decision. This is not to say emotion has no place in decision-making. Just that it can't be the only one flying the plane.

So, of course, I came to this after doing some thinking.

Most days, I eat lunch quickly at my desk and then go outside to sit and read. I like to read by the water (since I can), and that leads me to be surrounded by workers at American Express and other financial firms. And these workers look like I once assumed I would, and have enough money to buy the fourteen-dollar salads the food court sells. 

Lately I've had to refocus my spending habits (not so much that I was spending a lot but that I needed to reprioritize), and I realized I've been sort of mourning a person who never existed, and who absolutely should not exist.

You all know my little story by now (Fast forward version 1. Insecure and isolated high schooler 2. Well-connected best friend whom I desperately wanted to impress and thus started becoming more broadly party-centric 3. This repeats itself in college to a much greater extent, and friends this time choose to distance themselves from me in ways that I didn't understand and I thus blamed my character and self-worth for it 4. College ends, I don't know what I want to do, but i know I can't work with the type of folks who didn't really like me 5. I spend most of my 20s figuring my career out, treating every weekend as the only thing to look forward to, while lamenting I never had work friends and happy hours and the other things I saw people doing 6. Finally get to a path I wanted, but now I work near these folks and I feel pangs of sadness for the life I chose not to lead and frankly never wanted to lead).

Ultimately, in my life, the big choices - after college - have been what I actually wanted. The smaller choices, it's been harder to avoid what I've felt pressure to do - by others, by society, by my brain - and so I still sit there, enjoying a book but also telling myself I'm not so great because I didn't get to have the Coworkers and Happy Hours and Rooftops mid20s that others had.

"Well don't go over there," you're saying. Okay maybe. But I still have to function in the world. It's best I acknowledge this for what it is - a bit of mourning, some irrational anxiety stuff - and  understand that, like almost all of my urges, it's best it didn't happen since it's not actually what I ever wanted.

What would I have become had I opted to force myself into those interviews? It's been the biggest question of the last eleven years. I think I would have been successful, yes, and miserable, abjectly so. Now that I am actually working on the things in my brain, no six-figure bonus would have been enough to make me feel better, and I already felt pretty crummy. Yet I only felt bad in my actual life because of the pressure I felt to be this guy. Forget about actually having those jobs: what would I be like if I just didn't care about what society thought of my "success?" Because that would be something to truly want.

Hopefully I am getting closer to not allowing such things to have an impact on me. This is my goal, especially before school starts: to be free of caring about what other people want me to do.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality