Realizing you want something.... like really, truly want something
Is a deeply vulnerable experience.
I mean, we "want" things all day long and it doesn't feel that vulnerable -- oh I want a sandwich.... I want to take a nap so bad... I want that cute sweater.... I want a new car....
But these types of "wants" have more to do with our physical maintenance or the superficial desires we may forget about as soon as we stop browsing through the sale at Nordstrom.
The vulnerable ones are the desires that will not let go of us, because they are trying to tell us something about who we are.
I call these Core Desires.
No Guarantee (even with Core Desires)
Core desires point us to what will help us feel most ALIVE, and become a bigger, bolder, truer expression of the exquisitely unique aspect of Big Cosmic Truth that each of us are.
I like to believe that "what you want, wants you," and that when you're committed to something the entire universe conspires to help you get it.
But here's the real bish of it all:
Desires.... even core desires... even the things you are 100% committed to.... are never guaranteed to be fulfilled, even when we take the big scary leaps toward them.
No one gets through life without facing this tension.
Here are some examples from my own life:
>> Going on hundreds of dates to find the love of my life and not knowing if it would ever happen. (Outcome: At age 32, I did, and he's the greatest partner I could have asked for!)
>> Applying to 30 graduate schools to get my PhD in clinical psychology and not knowing if I'd ever be accepted. (Outcome: The only school I got into didn't have any financial aid for me so after 3 years of trying the PhD route, I got an MPH instead)
>> Signing up for TWO business masterminds in 2022 and taking a huge hit in my savings account, not knowing whether I'd even make my money back in revenue, let alone reach the 6-figure mark I had been sold. (Outcome: I made even less money in my biz in 2022 than I did in 2021 and I'm a long way from building my personal savings back to where they were.)
Based on outcomes, you could say that dating was worth it, but applying to PhD programs and investing in those masterminds wasn't.
But that would completely dismiss the value of going for it, of the risk-taking itself, and learning that I can survive those risks...
There's a certain pleasure and fulfillment inherent in simply playing the game.
Devotion to Desire
I recently came upon an Instagram post from Olivia Lara Owen on this precise topic:
"LIFE IS BEST LIVED IN FULL DEVOTION TO YOUR DESIRE WITHOUT ANY GUARANTEE.
Entitlement to anything is boring.
Really think about it.
The safety of knowing how things are going to pan out.
Or what you will create.
Or who will come into your life.
What would have us want only those things?
No divinity lives there.
We are meant to live in humble reverence
To anything that's yet to arrive.
It's what keeps us connected to the power of god that runs through us.
And to the infinite vast span of possibilities available in our lives.
All the ways we can be of service.
All the ways we can love.
All the ways we can take the game of life to the next level.
The people I find the hardest to be around are those who believe they've got it set.
When you have no humility or awareness of the bigger game we are playing.
The ones bought in to the falsehood of arrival.
Who live on the ego-ledge of superiority.
With a closed heart and bristly unpenetrable walls.
Devotion to your desire without any guarantee of anything ever arriving yet full trust that it totally could at any moment...
That's the game.
That's the equalizer.
The place where we all meet.
Open hearts, commitment and absolute willingness.
Devotion to your desire is devotion to creating life as it exists in every moment.
It is devotion to life itself."
Even when you get the thing you desire, it may not hit the spot the way you thought it would.
Actually getting what you want opens up a whole new game.
Because you can either really enjoy it deeply and open yourself to gratitude for it over and over and over again, letting yourself really feel the beauty and amazement of having the thing...
Or you realize "huh... this isn't the ticket to happiness and self love that I thought it would be.... interesting."
And you may realize that the deeper thing you want is actually something else.
And that's okay! You don't -- and can't, and shouldn't -- stop wanting things just because sometimes the thing you want, and get, turns out to not hit the spot the way you thought it would.
You get to go after it anyway and find out for yourself.
Do NOT let it mean that you "don't know what you want"!!
If it's not quite the thing you thought it would be (e.g., perhaps winning that Emmy didn't make you feel superior to that friend from high school who you've always had a low-level rivalry with, and you're now realizing that you actually hate the hours you have to work in order to run a network TV show)...
....it's never too late to course-correct.
All I know is, I feel most alive and have the most fun in life when I am working toward something that feels meaningful to me.
Whether or not I get what I want, life feels better when I am honestly trying to receive and hold something I deeply desire -- whether that's deeper intimacy with Paul, becoming a world-touring singer-songwriter, building a 6-figure business, becoming more sensual and present in my own body, etc. etc.
Besides, desire never goes away.
So maybe we need to let go of this idea that chasing your dreams is a brilliant, courageous, and admirable move if you become wildly successful with it
...but an incredibly foolish, irresponsible, embarrassing move if you don't reach your goal with it.
Because HOW THE HELL ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW THE OUTCOME if we never make the commitment to it in the first place??
How to create a guarantee is not the thing we need to figure out.
....those are the things we need to figure out right relation to.
Cuz at the end of each day, there is one thing you can know for sure:
Whether you were devoted to living YOUR life, and no one else's.
I could say so much more on this, but I'll stop there so we can process:
- How did this land for you?
- What desires are you holding that you don't know what to do with?
- What dreams of yours feel the most vulnerable to admit to?
Let me know in the comments!
These musings have been inspired by Existential Kink by Carolyn Elliott, PhD, and by Open to Desire by Mark Epstein.