Lately I’ve been suffering from the classic case of wanting what I can’t have. I actually encounter this sentiment on a more regular basis (I mean, who can pass a shiny BMW without a severe case of the wants?), but I mean it not in a lustful or jealous sentiment. In this case, the longing comes from beng physically unable to do things like go for a run or do strenuous exercise due to a recent medical incident. My forced low activity lifestyle has been harder to swallow this weekend with the copious amounts of summer sunshine that Seattleites crave year round. It’s hard to sit on the sidelines and not be able to take full advantage of the warm weather, especially when the motivation to do so is higher than ever. But as I stewed on this thought throughout the course of a picture perfect summer day as I watched every Seattleite under the sun running and biking to their hearts’ content, I got to realizing: being deprived of something has the power to make you appreciate it 10x more, or in some cases, light a fire under your ass. Or, in the words of Kelly Clarkson, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Don’t agree with me? Well that’s why I say it has the power to make you appreciative; on the flip side, being deprived can also make you bitter. I can’t lie–I’ve been on both sides of the coin, not only in this instance, but in past scenarios as well. Take my senior year of high school, when I was team captain of my cross country team and well positioned to compete in the state championship race, my last opportunity after 4 years of hard work. In the semi-finals, I got beat out of my opportunity–by one spot that was filled by another competitor by default. Crushed doesn’t even begin to describe how upset I was by the outcome. But somewhere along the way, a switch flipped and I somehow convinced myself it just wasn’t meant to be. So I trained for and successfully ran the 2003 Honolulu Marathon several months later, placing 9th in my age group and writing my college entrance essays on the whole experience, getting accepted to all 7 universities I’d applied to. A success? In my mind then and now, YES!
Ten years later, I find myself in a similar situation, with a similar mindset. My physical state of post-appendicitis might be holding me back from fully enjoying my first bout of Seattle summer, but I know I’ll be more motivated than ever to enjoy the last bits of it when I’m able to. It may not motivate me to run a full marathon again, but I’ll settle for completing a half 😉
Even taken out of the context of physical activity, this idea of deprivation and resulting appreciation applies to other scenarios, namely those of an intrepid freelancer. Think of those times when you really don’t have time to take on a new project, or a client’s check cashed in too late and you can’t make that big purchase you were waiting for. It’s the same idea. Personally, I can say that this concept is ultimately what drove me to become a freelancer in the first place. Sitting at a desk at a job I couldn’t stand, watching the social media feeds of successful freelancers showing me the worlds that they created. At first I was bitter, but then I got motivated, and over the course of several years I finally got to where I dreamed of being. It’s not easy, and there is certainly a lot of deprivation in the world of freelancing, but the appreciations and overall paybacks make every sacrifice completely worth it.
The classic case of wanting what you can’t have: how do you cope with it? Does it motivate you, or deteriorate you?