Wants vs. Needs

Before January, I’m not sure I could have pinpointed anything specific that I need to recharge. I knew that big groups of people suck the energy out of me. I knew that I liked doing creative things- painting, crafting. I knew that I enjoyed baking and cooking. I knew that I was naturally more of an introvert than an extrovert, so I needed time apart to re-charge.

What I didn’t realize, is that all my activities had a common denominator: silence.

Before January, I didn’t realize that silence is restorative to me. I need time to be in peace, to process my thoughts, to recharge after being drained by the endless words of others. I didn’t realize how much I value, crave, and need silence… until there was none.

In January, the dynamics of our house drastically changed, and there is a constant presence of noise. I knew there would be an adjustment period, and I told myself it would be ok… I’d get through it. Some days have been better than others. However since our recent move we are now all on the same level… and I’ve been struggling more than before.

I like my job, but if I’m honest, it exhausts me… and not just because it’s work. It exhausts me because I am the face, and voice, of the company all day. I don’t have my own space at work… my desk is right inside the front door, next to a wall of windows that lead into the lobby. I don’t have a door to close when I feel overwhelmed by the amount of words or noise in the main space. The main space is my space. My space is the main space. The hardest part is that my home has felt the same way. The only space that I feel truly alone is the bathroom… and that is just not a great space to do my crafting, my baking, etc. 😉

I have been struggling with this thought since January: how much of my house is supposed to be my house? How much can I ask of the other members of the house? Is it possible for me to re-charge without silence?

To answer that last question, NO. It got to a point where I dreaded going home every night, and desperately looked forward to Monday mornings when I got to go back to work… where there was noise, but not CONSTANT noise.

This may sound trivial. It may sound ridiculous. But it felt like my emotional breath was being sucked out of me. I want my home to be a haven, for my family and for my friends, but it turned into my personal prison.

Since January, I have learned that there are wants, and there are needs for emotional health. I want every dish washed right after it is used. I want all the carpets to be vacuumed, I want all the floors swept, I want people to take their recycling out like they are supposed to. Some of these expectations are reasonable, but they are wants. These things are not fundamental to my survival, health, or well-being. I can ask the members of my house to help me with these things, and I think it is reasonable to ask for assistance with chores… but I have to chose not to be upset if these things are left un-done.

It has taken me since January to distinguish that silence is a need. Some things are considered basic needs… food, water, sleep. It seemed silly to me to include silence on that list… but after ten months, I consider it a need. We have instituted a “quiet hour” in our home from 5:30-6:30 after I get home… and I pray this hour of silence every day meets the emotional need I have. I pray that it increases the quality of life in my house. I pray that it is respected.

What I know for sure is that I didn’t act hastily. It took me ten months to come to this conclusion, and we came to a compromise as a family… because we try to meet each other’s needs. And though it has been hard, and even painful at times, I think it has been beneficial to learn the difference between wants and needs.

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