With each day that passes, I accumulate a bit more wisdom and a bit more knowledge. I also develop a better understanding of myself and how I operate. If you asked me 10 years ago where I thought I’d be, I’d have said something about being a grown ass man living in a condo stacking big bucks in some business or computer science role. And if not that, I’d be a lawyer collecting a hefty paycheck and perusing lounges doing what I thought grown folks did. Marriage wasn’t really a thought, but I assumed I’d be dating a very attractive and educated woman who viewed her body as a sanctuary and not a playground.

There was no way that I’d be able to achieve any of these aspiration without going to college. I knew that college was something that I needed to do. I thought that going through my major with a 3.5 GPA and setting myself up for Business School, Law School, or some Computer Science job was what I needed to do. I thought that being a 4 year athlete and being mildly popular was something that I needed to do. What did I want? Free food, new electronics, an appearance at an NCAA national track and field competition, and a colossal magic stick that would become legendary amongst the ladies. Yes, these are all things I wanted. I got a few of them, but I’ll let you figure out which.

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At this point, I’m past college. I’m established in the working world. I’m not a lawyer, MBA student, or computer sciences specialist. I hate math and I hate standardized tests. So much for those aspirations and needs from my teen years, but I make decent money according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and my job is respectable. I had my own apartment for a year, because that’s what I thought I needed to do. I was grown. I needed to have the Bachelor pad in the suburbs so that I could tell people that I was established and doing well. At least, that’s what I thought I needed. I took a chance and switched jobs into a career path that I thought I needed to be in which paid significantly less. Coincidentally, the rent increased as my salary decreased. I wanted to stay in my Bachelor pad, but knew that I needed to move out and get a roommate.

Add in that during this stretch I dated a variety of women that had things I thought that I needed, but they turned out to just be wants. With each woman, I thought I was taking a step up based on my perceived needs. Much to my dismay, each relationship’s end left me feeling like I had taken an increasingly larger step back. I compromised on things that would’ve made me happier in the long term because I thought I didn’t really “need” them at the time. I thought I needed a woman that had a “low” number of sex partners. I thought I needed a woman with a day job, unparalleled confidence, and roughness around the edges. I wasn’t perfectly molded, but I had my sh*t together. She needed to be same. Unfortunately, having one’s sh*t together doesn’t mean they will make a good relationship partner.

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Looking back over the last few years, I realized that there have been way too many times where I have confused my needs with wants. Even after senselessly adding stress and strife to my life multiple times over, I still couldn’t tell the difference between what it was I needed versus what I wanted. That was until recently, and I’m still not completely accurate in my assessments. As I grew increasingly dissatisfied with my circumstances, I started to dissect different aspects of my life down to a micro level. I started weighing each action and decision based on how it would affect me in the current and in the future. As I continue to go through this process, I’m realizing that some of the things I really need have been there all along. It just so happened that I previously characterized them as wants in the past. Confused? If so, imagine how I probably feel/felt.

Many folks say they just want to be happy. I personally think it’s more of a need. Otherwise, it’s just a miserable existence and who really wants that? But what do you think? What do you do when you realize you’re confusing a want with a need? Better yet, have you ever met someone and thought they were the total package for you only to realize they were a disaster? Apply this to work, friends, relationships, family, or whatever. Let’s go deep…and pause.

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