There is an oft-quoted statement filled with more truthiness than most oft-quoted statements. If you hadn’t guessed, the statement in question is “after you get what you want you don’t want it.” A Broadway musical has never created a lyric with so much universal appeal.
Personally, I’ve applied this statement to my orders at restaurants, love interests and graduate schools.
There are several parts in making this statement true.
First, we as human beings, particularly as American human beings, are dreamers. To use another cliché, the grass is always greener on the other side. We live in the future, a time when we’ll be happier, richer, thinner and wear nicer clothes. The issues of our current lives, our current dissatisfaction, and—to some extent—our very personalities and circumstances are wiped away with a quest for the future.
When we dream for something, it can be anything we want it to be. It can work well for us even though it is impossible in our own realities. This idea explains the reason why we love the dream, but when the not-so-shiny-reality becomes true in our minds—when we get we get what we want—reality is typically more difficult to live in than is dreamland.
Second, we like the chase. We like the idea of imagining our object of admiration, but more than that, we like chasing it. We like the idea of striving for something, working hard and dreaming hard, while simultaneously beating ourselves up for the wrong thing that we said or did or wrote. We like assuming that we will never have the object of our desires and subsequently making ourselves feel better about the impossibility of this acquisition with personal pity parties.
The chase, perhaps, is the thing. Or more of what we want than the thing.
All of this is to say that this idea of dreaming and chasing makes the actual reality that much harder. I just had to pick a graduate school and after months and months of imagining the thing and chasing the thing, I couldn’t make a real decision about my real future. So I hemmed and hawed and researched and learned about real-life minutia I should have known about months ago.
It’s a dangerous mindset, this idea of not wanting what you have once you have it. It keeps you in one place and only allows you to make dream-filled decisions. I, for one, plan to start forgetting about it, but perhaps once I’ve achieved that goal, I’ll no longer want it.