Everyone wants to be wanted. I shall waste no more time explaining this principle for it is so obviously true.
What is not nearly as obvious, however, is the unconventional way to help others quench this endless thirst. You have, as you might have guessed given the existence of this letter addressed to one xxxxxxxxx, perfected this uncommon way: be vulnerable about your own wants.
And no, stating I want this is not nearly enough. Even offering an explanation isn’t enough. Because completing these checkpoints can be done without revealing an actual vulnerability.
Check the difference:
I want this job because I’ve always dreamed of working for a cool tech firm
I want this job because I’m feeling envious of my friends who seem to be surpassing me. I know I shouldn’t be competing with them, but I stay up every night totally consumed by crazy jealously. If I could just latch on with this cool tech firm, I’m sure I would feel better about myself and gain some respect from my peers. Then maybe I’d be able to sleep again.
That latter figure is, in one form or another, all of us. Yet, we find ourselves surrounded by people presenting themselves as the former.
You opt out of this game of pretend. Instead, while generally maintaining an incredibly positive and joyful disposition, you’ll expose yourself, flaws and all, for anyone.
I always respected and enjoyed your choice because:
(a) it made conversations interesting
(b) there’s so much more to be learned in the depths vulnerability creates
and (c) it enabled a type of friendship that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Not until xxxxxxxxx did I consider this wanting-to-be-wanted angle. There are other people who invite me to things, and while I’m confident they care if I attend, I don’t really know. Some inviters will even play it cool with the old come if you want line. Hint: this is not the way to make someone feel wanted.
Conversely, with you I can feel the want. There is absolutely no doubt – we are talking 100% certainty – that my presence would mean a lot to you, which makes it mean a lot to me.
You hold a monopoly on this uncommon way to make someone feel wanted; the world has ceded this ground to you because the risks are deemed too great, since profound rejection is inextricably linked to vulnerability. Someone attempting to challenge the xxxxxxxxx monopoly would no longer be able to offer a hedged invitation. And hedged invitations are quite seductive since they turn thanks, but no thanks into a series of reliable mental rationalizations credible enough to avoid a death spiral of existential self-questioning.
So, the monopoly remains intact because death spirals do indeed sound quite scary, and therapy (like all of healthcare) is just too damn expensive. Why take the risk? You know, don’t you? You knew it at some point in the xxxxxxxxx, and probably well before then. The highs. Of course it’s for the highs. Chasing highs is a seemingly complicated choice that rests on a decision of whether to focus on the worst-case or the best-case.
And boy did it feel like xxxxxxxxx was a realization of the best-case. Thanks for absorbing the risk to make it possible, and for making me feel so important in the process.