The Power of Wanting
This post originally appeared on Girl's Gotta Eat, Lauren's chronicle of her dating adventures.
Fun fact: in addition to being a *full-time blogger (*HA), I am also a singer/actor. I do musical theatre. I love it.
In college, I was trained to approach auditioning as the real job, and performing as the reward. Actors receive roughly 99x more rejection than we do offers, and in all honesty, I’ve adjusted fairly well to it. I’m pretty resilient.
About 3 years ago however, I recognized an audition habit I’d developed after my first few years of working professionally in theatre.
I didn’t care.
I went into every audition telling myself that I wasn’t going to get it, and that was okay. I was making peace with eventual rejection. That was how professionals managed, right? It’s just a job.
If you don’t care, you can’t get hurt.
When I was 24, an audition came along that I really, really wanted to book.
I prepared for it like none other before. I knew the character back and forth and inside out and upside down. I knew her and I loved her.
I got a callback. I killed it.
I didn’t book it. And I was DEVASTATED.
What I realized rather quickly however, was that I’d gotten as far as I had in the audition process by letting myself want it so very badly. That didn’t come off to the casting folks as desperation. It came off as preparation and passion.
What I discovered was the power I had when I let myself want something.
I wanted that role and I worked for it. I CARED, and that shone through! I didn’t get it, and I was deeply, deeply upset. But I got over it.
I was stronger for having put the work in. It felt good to care so deeply about something – not to mention something that I was more or less dedicating my life to (performing).
My heart wasn’t a cold black hole in the middle of my chest! Small victories!
By really allowing myself to want the role, I put myself in an inherently vulnerable position: I could ‘fail’ or ‘succeed’ and I was emotionally open to either.
That is powerful.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity…and love.
Speaking of – let’s get down to how this connects to dating, shall we?
When we allow the fear of rejection or looking foolish to get in the way of being open to love, we often build up a wall – an ‘I don’t care’ wall, and we don’t allow ourselves to really want anything.
It’s a heck of a lot easier than the potential hurt or embarrassment we might experience if we don’t get what we want. Why allow ourselves to yearn for something that we just know won’t happen for us?
This is a defense mechanism. If you don’t let yourself want it, you can’t get burned.
It’s a natural state to fall into after being hurt time and time again. We all want to protect ourselves. But I urge you: if you’ve gotten there, don’t stay there. It’s a trap.
Not letting yourself want for things is an incredibly unproductive place to be. It feels hardened and stagnant. You’re not going back, but you’re certainly not moving forward.
It’s unnatural to close yourself off from your feelings and what you really want – and isn’t that why we’re all here? To figure that out, and then figure out how to get it? And you know, like, eat, drink and be merry along the way.
Am I recommending that you build a vision board of your dream man and perform a nightly séance around it while soft-cry singing “Someday My Prince Will Come”? No.
But just like how I managed to have a successful audition process by letting myself want that role, I find that allowing yourself to want a relationship creates a more successful dating life. It feels incredibly rejuvenating – it’s more honest, open, and attracts the right type of people.
The people that want the same things that you do.
However, I’ve noticed a negative stigma around people (specifically women) who really want something, namely, to be in a relationship.
They’re ‘desperate’. Or, they haven’t fully embraced being single, which means they don’t know or like themselves. Or, they just care too much.
Shouldn’t women just be easy-breezy, go with the flow, ‘cool girls’?
How many times have you felt the need to let everyone know how okay you are with being single? And why?
I think this is fucking. Bullshit.
You can be at peace with yourself and being single and still want to fall in love.
(I feel like I want to get that silk-screened on a t-shirt to wear with PRIDE).
It’s all about being honest with yourself.
Knowing what you want is empowering, it’s healthy, and it’s smart.
Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise doesn’t deserve the chance to get to know you.
Not letting yourself want for things is unnatural (it goes against human instinct) and inherently dishonest. In the long run, this dishonesty will hurt a heck of a lot more than not getting what you want. I promise.
Once you’re able to be honest with yourself, I encourage you to be honest with the people in your life:
“Yes, I’m single. Yes, I’m looking. We’ll see!”.
If that’s where you’re at, it feels SO much better to put it out there than:
“Yes, I’m single. And I’m going to die alone surrounded by my cat emporium”.
Will honesty get you as consistent of a laugh? Maybe not. But it’s genuine and respectable. It leads to connection.
And oh – THAT’S actually why we’re all here.
About 2 months after I didn’t book that role I’d so badly wanted, I went on an incredible first date. At the end of the night, we stood outside my apartment building talking for what felt like hours before he pulled me in for a kiss.
When I stepped inside my front door, I leaned against the wall and cried. Really just let it out.
I’d forgotten what it felt like to go out with someone and let myself want to be with them – want to get to know them, and explore a relationship with them…and maybe even love them.
I cried because I felt alive.
I believe in the power of wanting. I believe in opening yourself up to the potential of getting hurt, but in turn, the potential of getting what you want.
What do you have to lose?