Coping With Getting What You Need Instead Of What You Want

Getting Older And Getting What You Need Instead Of What You Want

Do you remember when you were a kid, the excitement you felt when you were opening a present on Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/your birthday? You were so excited when you considered the possibilities as you tore the paper off – was it going to be those new kicks that you had been eyeing, but your mom kept telling you were “too expensive” and “unnecessary”? Or that Red Ryder BB Gun that you 100% would shoot your eye out with? And then, do you remember your disappointment when you finally pulled off that last piece of gift wrap and discovered that Nana had once again gifted you with a savings bond and the wool socks that you needed to survive the long, New England winter? Well, my friends, that crushing, soul encompassing disappointment was a glimpse into your adulthood – because once you reach a certain age, it becomes all about what you need, not what you want.

It begins slowly, creeping up on you. Maybe you choose the four-wheel drive SVU instead of the flashy coupe, because you have to drive to work, even when it snows. Instead of that booze-filled cruise you wanted to take with your measly week of vacation, you’re stuck saving up both your vacation days and dollars to head to your friends’ weddings in exciting destinations, such as Milwaukee and Indianapolis. Your frivolous purchases such as bottle service and blowouts start to disappear in favor of responsible decisions like an increased 401K allocation and a sturdy set of luggage. Before you know it, all of your decisions are based on what you need, as opposed to what you want.

It’s not like this a new concept, right? I mean, as we roll into adulthood, the expectation is that as we gain more and more responsibilities, we have to become more and more responsible. It’s simple cause and effect. We all know it’s coming. But what we didn’t know was how freaking boring it would be. The Rolling Stones even tried to sex up the idea in 1969 when they sang,

You can’t always get what you want,
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You’ll get what you need

What The Stones probably needed at the time was rehab, but that’s neither here nor there. Even one of the best songs of all time can’t change the fact that getting what you need as opposed to what you want kind of sucks, in a socks-and-savings-bonds-from-Nana on Christmas kind of way. You know that it’s practical and good for the future, but it sucks the life out of the moment. All of those possibilities you felt before you tore that wrapping paper off seem like distant memories, and instead we are stuck with the monotony of making smart decisions.

So what can we do to reverse the tedium of getting what we want instead of what we need? Well, unless we want to do a shit-ton of drugs like the Stones did, the answer isn’t simple. Sure, there is the obvious answer of saying, “Fuck it, I’ve just going to go do something that I WANT.” But as we get older, that’s not as easy as it was when we were kids. Doing what we want now has consequences, from screwing over our coworkers when we skip that meeting they needed us at to letting down a friend who needed our help because there was something else we wanted to do that day. Sigh, being a dependable adult sucks.

My advice? Just go out and blow some money on something totally frivolous, a generally victimless crime. Unless you have a family to support; if that’s the case, you’re screwed. Anyway, back to my point – get something you absolutely don’t need, but definitely want. Those crazy expensive sports tickets or those ridiculously priced pants that make your ass look amazing. And thankfully, you still have those savings bonds from Nana to replenish your coffers. That lady knew what she was doing, didn’t she?

Image via Shutterstock

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Jenna Crowley

Jenna used to be known as 2NOTBrokeGirls, but then one of the girls actually went broke, so she's struck out on her own. Jenna spends her free time saving the world, one sorority girl at a time (usually while wearing yoga pants), questioning why she decided to get a doctorate, documenting her love of all things cheese related, and hosting the new PGP podcast Don't Take It From Us. You can ask her anything you want about football, using your boobs to get what you want, and pizza at @JennaLCrowley on Twitter or via email at

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