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Why We Desire What We Can’t or Do Not Have

Recently I have been pondering the question of why we desire things that we do not already have or that we know are out of our reach? Why do we let these things bother us? It seems as though we are never satisfied with our lives and the things that make up our lives. Why is that? Well, I think I have discovered some possible answers to these questions. 

1. We want to feel adequate. No matter how hard we may try, I think we can all admit that not comparing ourselves to others around us is no easy task. Everywhere you go, there will always be someone who makes you feel inadequate. Maybe they’re more intelligent than you – top of their class, impressive resume – maybe you don’t feel as beautiful as that person, or maybe you can’t afford to wear expensive clothing like they do. We compare ourselves to this person and when we convince ourselves that we are inferior to them, but we desire to be like them; to embody them. We want to be this person because society has told us that is the epitomy of success, beauty, intelligence etc. Instead of focusing on what physical qualities we do not possess, we should instead be focused on enhancing the unique qualities that we do have. We cannot and should not look to others to make us feel adequate. 

2. We want to fit in. Remember when your friends started getting smart phones (this was in middle school for me) and you were still stuck with a cell phone that didn’t have a touch screen? You wanted a smart phone simply because your friends and peers had one. Like most adolescents, you had a desire to fit in and not stand out from the crowd. You begged your parents to buy you a smart phone (a brand new cell phone!) when your’s functioned perfectly fine. Your mind was not focused on what you had, but rather on what you were lacking. All because you wanted to fit in. 

3. We want a fairytale ending. Often times girls fawn over the unattainable bad boy, the star athelete, the really cute, charming guy you see in the dining hall ALL THE TIME but don’t bother to say hi because of his reputation as a “f*ckboy”. When it comes to love we are commonly attracted to what we know we can’t have; what feels just out of reach. If I’m being honest, I believe this desire comes from growing up amongst fairytales and watching too many rom-coms. Time and time again we’ve heard the fictional story of the girl getting the quiet yet hot bad boy with a past, the star football player falling for the cute nerd, and “bad boys” changing their ways “just for her”. I’m not saying that 10 Things I Hate About You, A Walk to Remember and A Cinderella Story could absolutely never happen in real life, however, most love stories just don’t work like that. What real life does have in common with these stories though, is the want and the need for a fairytale ending. We want the athelete, the bad boy, and the charming guy to notice us and prove they don’t fit their stereotype. We desire guys who seem unattainable because we want a happily ever after and think they can provide us with that.  

4. Some view satisfaction as complacency. Although it is not a bad thing by any means to feel satisfied, our society tends to have a “never settle” mentality. For some, it is not enough to be satisfied; you should always be yearning for more. Therefore, if you are the kind of person who is always yearning for something more, you will inevitably be desiring things you don’t have. At a certain point though, isn’t it necessary to stop searching and settle down? Not settle for something or someone who is below your expectations, but be content with youself and your life? I think if we spend too much time searching, we will drive ourselves crazy and lose sight of the beauty of our individual unique life. 


I don’t know all of the reasons why we yearn for the things we can’t have in life, but if we focus on ways we can change our mentality, we might be more satisified with simply being ourselves. 

Kristen Jost

Gonzaga '19

Kristen is a senior at Gonzaga University studying a communication and promotion. She is a social media coordinator for her chapter as well as an executive board member and founding member. After college, she hopes to travel before settling down to work for a marketing firm that specializes in sports and higher education branding. Her hobbies include: watching sporting events, wandering around book stores, drinking too much coffee, discovering new places, and staying active outdoors.
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