what is it okay to want?

It’s confusing, figuring out what it’s okay to want. Partly, I think, because girls (especially, though of course not exclusively) aren’t so much supposed to want a whole lot of things. Unless it’s wanting things for other people. It’s very much encouraged for us to want for him to have a good time at the party, and for her to enjoy that gift, and for the nonprofit to raise all the money it’s hoping to raise for the worthy cause.

But navigating the terrain of what we’re allowed to want, without somebody calling us selfish or bitchy? ‘Tis a challenge.

This is a problem for all the normal feminist reasons you’d expect. But it’s also a problem in the world of life coaching, where it’s extremely helpful to know where you want to go in order for us to get you there. I’m not necessarily one to believe that you must chart a course directly toward an end goal, and write down all your in-between tasks in an Excel spreadsheet. I don’t think it’s necessarily imperative that you visualize your ideal outcome every night (though it might help).

It’s just that it’s going to be significantly harder to get to a dreamy somewhere if you aren’t able to allow yourself to even want the dream.

Which is not to say that you’re doomed if you currently aren’t able to want what you want. I understand that. The world would like you to think that you’re not allowed to want things because you’re a “good girl” or a “good boy,” because you’re a queer, because you’re a person of color, because you haven’t done enough to “deserve” it. Sometimes it takes several small steps, and lots of support, to allow yourself to experience desire.

What if, today, you gave yourself five minutes to consider what it might be like to want something that you haven’t previously sanctioned yourself to want? Please note: this doesn’t mean you have to actually desire this thing. Right now we’re only considering what it might feel like to inhabit that desire. This is a very small first step, and yet it may still bring up your stuff.

Try it. See what happens.

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