Way back when Purple Rain came out, my sisters and I went apeshit over the song When Doves Cry. I remember a day when the three of us were pissed at our mum for something, and we all crowded together in my older sisters room to bitch about it. My sister Marisa put on her Purple Rain LP and we started singing. And when we got to the line "maybe I'm just like my mother/she's never satisfied" we screamed it at the top of our lungs. We did this over and over until Mummy burst through the door and slapped the needle off the record and told us off. She knew we were singing about her and she was not happy.
Although it’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that women grow up to turn into their mothers, I’ve spent my life doing my best to make sure I don’t turn into mine. And for the most part I’ve succeeded; my life now is wildly different from what hers was like when she was my age. We have completely different viewpoints on just about everything. This isn’t always a good thing, but that’s the pathology of being a daughter I guess – you do your damnedest to make sure you don’t end up like your mother, even when it’s to your detriment. And then one day you realize that you’re never satisfied, just like her.
I didn’t realize this about myself until recently. Up until a few weeks ago I considered myself the type of person for whom life is a bit harder than it is for everyone else. I’d long since accepted the fact that I’m not the person who gets what she wants. I considered myself the kind of person who can make do with what she has and learn to be happy about it. What I realize now is that it’s not that I don’t get what I want, it’s that I never stop wanting.
A few weeks after I started my first job after moving to Toronto, I started to want something else. I worked for a conference call company and my job was to make reservations for calls (back when having a conference call actually required human intervention). My desk faced the “bridgeroom” where the operators were running around like madwomen with headsets on, joining people to calls and linking bridges and screaming things I couldn’t understand. Compared to my calm little job of sitting at my desk asking people “how many participants will be joining you?” and “do you require an email confirmation of your reservation?”, it looked like the most exciting job ever and I said to myself, I wanna do that.
I didn’t take any steps to make it happen. I just continued to sit at my desk asking the same ten questions over and over while watching the flurry of activity in the bridgeroom and gnashing my teeth wishing it was me. But after a month or so of this, the bridgeroom manager asked me if I’d like to try being an operator and a couple of days after that I was one.
Fast forward a few weeks and I’m back to gnashing my teeth all over again. Because while being an operator was cool, I was looking around me at the senior operators running calls with hundreds of people, linking multiple bridges together and snatching desks and equipment from other people because their conferences were more important and I started to want that. And even though it normally takes a year to become a senior operator, about three months later I was one.
The story continues along the same vein. For the three years or so that I worked at that company, I would move up the ranks, be satisfied where I was for a couple of weeks and then start to want something else. And sooner or later I’d get it. Until I got well and truly sick of the place and then magically got downsized and left with a smile on my face and a fat severance package.
This is a pretty typical story for me. When I started this blog two years ago, I set goals for my first year. I didn’t really do anything to make them happen, but one by one they all came to pass. It’s just what life is like for me. I get what I want eventually, whether I work toward it or not.
The interesting thing about this is that, although I am very familiar with the feeling of wanting something really badly and actually getting it, I’m completley unfamiliar with the feeling of being satisfied with what I have. Because about fifteen minutes after I get what I want, I start to want something else. Whether it’s my job or this blog or my hair or my new winter jacket. No matter if it’s my latest pair of shoes or my birthday haul or the state of my abs. No matter what I get in life, no matter how it comes to me, I’m happy about it for about 15 minutes before I start to want something else, something more.
I’ve always considered in the inability to be satisfied to be a pretty abhorrent quality. God knows I spent enough time disdaining my mother for being like that. But now that I know it to be true about myself I start to wonder whether this is really a bad thing. Sure it’s frustrating for the people who are trying to make you happy to know that it’s nearly impossible for that to happen, but beyond that? I don’t know. Is there something wrong with always wanting more for yourself? Is it a crime to be constantly looking for the next step, constantly raising the bar on what you want for yourself? Is there a zen in accepting what we have and being happy with it that people like me miss out on? I don’t know. I wouldn’t know, because I am never satisfied.
So I put it to you, dear readers. Are you satisfied with what you have in life? Have you ever been or do you think you ever will be? Is yearning for more just human nature, or does it say something about people like me? Speak your piece on it in the comments.