I used to believe that what I want and need could be answered by looking in one place. We are told this every day when people say that our partners should complete us and our work should fulfill all our passions and desires. However, realistically this isn’t possible.
My partner brings out the best in me and encourages me to be a better person but we are still two separate individuals.
I could never expect him to always make me happy, to understand all my dreams and to always know what’s best for me, although he tries and at times I’ve wanted him to.
Sometimes I need my other relationships to satisfy my needs. In the past people have made me feel guilty about this and I think that’s wrong. We all know how important our friends are to our lives. They support us, inspire us and push us to be better and they see us in ways we could never see ourselves. In recent years, I have made an effort to connect with people outside of my normal circle. This has been so important to both my professional and personal development. I have friends that I can bounce ideas off, people that challenge my views and individuals that can relate to specific experiences in my life that others can’t. These friends fill needs my partner can’t always satisfy.
This is the same for work. Often, we are told stories of how individuals have found their dream job and every day they get to do what they love. These are the lucky people. Most of us do work that we enjoy 80% of the time but I have never had a job yet that gives me time to do everything I love. Often there is a tradeoff and we tell ourselves we will find time to do things that inspire us later but before we know, we have fallen into the work, sleep, repeat trap and forget we are more than our work.
We can’t expect that our work will fulfill all of us, even though it seems like it should.
I’ve learned this the hard way after being disillusioned with work because it didn’t allow me to do what I wanted. I found myself often confined to my desk with limited ability to be creative and be progressive. The exact opposite to what I wanted. To fix this I have invested in side projects outside of work like my blog, consulting and organising meet-ups in my community. These projects allow me to use my excess energy, gain sector knowledge, network and learn skills I need for my job. My work might not give me everything I want but I’m happy because I don’t expect it to deliver more than it can anymore.
We have many needs and wants. Some are with us always and others change with time. The first step is to know what these are, and the second is to find out how we can achieve them.
For me, I needed to stop looking in one place.
Featured image is of a sunset in Mumbai. Photo by Rachel Kurzyp.