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Essays by Karen Anderson: What You Want

Illustration by Kacie Brown

In a recent book review I read this quote: “Ask for what you want. No one is likely to offer it.” Rather a stark statement, I thought, but I had to admit it was true. I only wish someone had said it to me years ago.

Meanwhile, I waited around hoping someone would figure out what I wanted and offer it to me. I didn’t think I had the right to ask. It takes a kind of courage to ask for what you want, not to mention the wisdom to know what it is.

In our consumer society, we are often persuaded that what we want is things. More things, bigger things, cheaper things. But by and large, what I want isn’t anything you can buy.

What I want is deep conversation and careful listening. What I want is acceptance and belonging and maybe, if I request it, advice. What I want is a few no-matter-what friends. And, as I review this list, I need to consider whether these are things I’m also prepared to give?

It’s worth thinking about, worth talking about what we really want, not just in this moment but for this life. Why is it so hard? “No one is likely to offer it,” the author said.

Not unless we ask.

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.