This is part of my Blog Post Series: How To Thrive As An Adult
One of the basic needs of every human being is the need to be loved, to have our wishes and feelings taken seriously, to be validated as people who matter.
— Harold S. Kushner
You are a human being, imbued with incredible potential and noble aspirations. Each day, you make life better for the people around you. Your labor and love brighten others’ days.
And like everyone around you, you have a variety of basic needs. Clean air and water. Nutritious food, quality shelter, and safety. Connection with other people and belonging. Understanding, acceptance, and appreciation. Autonomy and freedom. Self-expression and self-actualization.
With such a wide assortment of needs, it’s likely that some of them are unmet. And unmet needs are like a fog that envelops your life in dreariness and gloom.
For example, growing up, I felt alone. I had one good friend in elementary school. Many acquaintances, but only one good friend. I was surrounded by adults and often had no one to play with.
Some lonely kids create imaginary friends to spend time with. I went further and constructed an imaginary city, so small that it fit on the tip of my finger. I was its mayor, and its inhabitants were modeled after characters in my favorite tv show, The Smurfs. They were constantly causing problems with one another and needed me to sort things out.
Years later, in college, I didn’t get enough sleep, exercise, or proper nutrition. As a result, I lacked clarity, and my studies suffered. I contracted pneumonia during the winter of my junior year. At that time, I made a strategic decision to fail some classes and focus my limited energy on the classes I wanted to pass. Two years later, graduation was a mixture of relief and exhaustion. I laughed when someone asked me about graduate school.
Since then, I’ve come to realize that I have some basic needs. And when they’re unmet, life is miserable.
I tell you this, not because I want sympathy, but because I want you to know that you also have an assortment of basic needs. You probably have a bunch of them are not being met. And that makes life hard.
So take a minute and ask yourself, What’s one need that’s not being met? If you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance you’ve got the base of “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” covered, e.g., food, shelter, etc. But modern society has created a massive amount of loneliness. Many of us have only social media to keep us company. Many of us live in a desert of disconnection.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that you can get your needs met. It might be as simple as speaking up for what you need. This was easy when you were a toddler, where every other sentence was a request — or a demand — for something that caught your eye. But as you became an adult, you entered a strange world where it’s normal to pretend you’re just fine and dandy. And it’s abnormal to say these two words, I need.
Getting your needs met might be complicated and require tremendous effort. It may take weeks, or months, or years. But it’s worth it. Because you are worth it. Because you matter.
And though it may feel like the world has forgotten you and left you behind, just know, you are not forgotten. There are people that care about you. There are people that will help you meet your unmet needs.
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