“Something’s got to give. You can’t have it all. You have to make compromises in life.”
When I was younger my parents would often tell me stories of sacrifices they’d made. People they didn’t marry. Jobs they didn’t take. Countries they didn’t move to and dreams they didn’t chase. The overarching lesson was: “You can’t have it all, Elizabeth. Life and love means sacrifice. You have to give up on things at some point and do things you don’t want to do.”
I hated this lesson. Why do we celebrate not chasing dreams because ‘look at what we have now’? I felt guilty for thinking and and wanting to say ‘well, it sounds like you would’ve been a lot happier if you’d just gone for what you wanted.’
I no longer think that life is compromise. And I do think we can have it all, I just think it might look different to what we originally picture it.
I now think of what I want in terms of needs rather than objects or actions. For example, a designer bag is not a need for a bag per se, it’s a need for respect and status and admiration. Maybe even a need for love and acceptance. So me ‘having it all’, feeling fulfilled and happy and having my needs met is just achieved in a better way: creating more human connections, spending time with loved ones, exploring whether I’m going down a conditional love path in my mind or why potentially I’m feeling a bit insecure in myself. That doesn’t have to eliminate the desire for the bag (I might still buy it), but if I couldn’t afford it, and this was a ‘desire I felt I had to compromise on’, I might still get my need met in other ways, without feeling I had compromised.
My cravings for a certain job, a certain house, a certain holiday, a certain partner or lifestyle often just are deeper, unheard and unmet physiological needs for love, acceptance and belonging, taking inspiration from whatever superficial representation they have online of dream villas and fancy cars, and screaming at me in pangs of longing in endless lists of things I want but have to compromise on.
I can’t have it all is bullshit, because what I really need is very little.
My dream-bucket-lists are really just themes of needs I’ve been ignoring: challenge, love, accomplishment, intimate relationships, friendships, rest, security, acceptance. Now that I see things this way, I really feel I often can have it all.