One day in grade three, we went to the Disney store. At that time (and even still now), I had an obsession for Stitch from the Disney movie, Lilo & Stitch. In the store, there was a large pile of Disney plushies, but there was only one Stitch plushie that actually looked like Stitch (the other models were simplified towards disfiguration). At once, I picked up that Stitch plushie, the last of his kind, and said that I needed him.
But it wasn’t to be. Stitch was too expensive, and he was roughened by life on the pile. There were no more of him in stock, and the other Stitch models were not good enough. No one would buy him. That was why he was the last of his kind.
My dad told me it was time to go. My eyes flashed at him, and I hugged Stitch with all of my strength as a little boy.
I wasn’t going to leave Stitch. He was mine.
I yelled; I screamed; I cried. Nothing was going to faze my dad. You see, we were taught to be disciplined, but I had none at this moment. This was unacceptable behaviour. Towards the hour mark, as I continued with my whining and begging and wailing, my grandmother finally said that she would buy him as a gift.
My grandmother passed away a year later.
This is a reoccurring theme. I’ve always had the gift and curse of knowing exactly what I wanted. While everyone was worried about what they would do for the rest of their lives, I had known since kindergarten that I wanted to become a mineralogist. In class, I would disregard my teachers’ instructions so that I could use my idea for a project. I always knew who I liked.
However, having such strong feelings of desire has a downside. It is hard to differentiate between wants and needs. Needs are essential for your living; wants are things that you desire, but they are not essential for living.
Not knowing the difference between wanting and needing is fine when it comes to success, but dangerous when it comes to failing. Everyone fails at some point in life. But when I failed, whether it be in academics, athletics, or relationships, I felt as if my life had ended. Living without something that I thought I needed was impossible. As a perfectionist, I could not handle reality. To keep myself alive, I taught myself not to want, not to care, but in the process, I lost my motivation to live. Desire gives direction and meaning to life. Avoiding problems doesn’t solve them.
One theme that is shared between my writing and my life is that everything is interconnected. Lessons in one domain of my life are applicable to another. School, sports, arts and relationships are all learning opportunities. I am starting to learn that these are only a part of my life; they do not define who I am. Failure, or not achieving the desired outcome, is an opportunity to learn, and it is not failure itself that matters, but how you respond to failure that does. Understanding the difference between wanting and needing allows you to dream big, while realizing that your failures will not define your life.
-Derek Leung, NIF Blog Ambassador