I am known for being relatively unsatisfied most of the time. I’ve explained this to my friends and loved ones as my, “happy, but…” disease.
Dinner was great, but I ate too much.
Our apartment is lovely, but the rent is too high.
This party is great, but what else is going on tonight?
I am that person. And, as you might have guessed, that person is not always fun to be. As Hannah Horvath so truthfully said in that Girls episode where she was Patrick Wilson’s live-in girlfriend for two days (dream weekend, by the way)…
I WANT ALL THE THINGS.
I want a career I am proud of and excited about. I want a bank balance that makes sense for how hard I work and the future I desire. I want a clean apartment, and for my dog and cat to stop fighting. I want for there to be endless Cheetos and zero guilt. I want to be social more. I want to drink less. I want a wine tap in my house. I want to have read all the books I probably should have read a long time ago. I want to want to exercise. I want better (or any) healthcare. I want to never get a zit again. I want to be Chrissy Teigen, generally. I want to travel more. I want to have all nice makeup that isn’t covered in the dregs of other makeup. I want pretty hair that never gets tangled. I want people I respect and admire to respect and admire me back. I want a swimming pool. I want a gift certificate to the universe. I want all of those things but not particularly in that order.
Being in your 20s is full of wants. To be free from want is a goal, which I also want, but is a lot lower on my list for one very solid reason: sometimes wanting things is good. Sometimes wanting things helps us figure out who we are, our place in the world, or how hard we are willing to work. It’s okay to want, even if that want is say, for a boyfriend.
Writer and therapist Leslie C. Bell recently penned a piece for The Atlantic, titled “Women In Their 20s Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Wanting A Boyfriend”, and I could not agree more. Bell writes that in a study she conducted among college age women, many were reticent to say they wanted a boyfriend, even if they really did.
When I talk to real women, as I did in researching my book on sexual freedom and 20-something women, I hear young women’s mixed feelings about relationships,” writes Bell. “Some young women deeply desire meaningful relationships with men, even as they feel guilty about those desires. Many express the same sentiment again and again: “Why do I, a young and highly educated woman in the 21st century, value relationships with men so highly?” To do so feels like a betrayal of themselves, of their education, and of their achievements.
Perhaps we are concerned that if we say we want a partner, we risk sounding lonely, or worse, needy? Maybe we fear people thinking we need a boyfriend/girlfriend in order to feel fulfilled? Or maybe we are truly scared that more nights in watching Netflix with your boo will mean less nights at networking events, or working on your screenplay. Typically, partners are thought of as distractions, or worse, as a negative way for us to form our identities. We want so many things, but we feel icky and old fashioned when one of those things is a partner.