Want vs. Need

One thing I love about that down time in December, between the holidays, is the opportunity I am afforded to slow down and connect a little deeper to those with whom I am most close. A recent discussion (turned debate) explored the idea of wanting others vs. needing others (friendships, partnerships or work relationships) and it left me curious to explore the ideas more, on my own.

When we’re young, we want to be seen and heard. We want to be noticed. We want to be liked. As we grow older, these wants get tempered by our needs — the things that make us feel safe and secure. We learn that being vulnerable can be dangerous, so we stop wanting those things that might put us at risk. But, if we’re honest about what we need from others, perhaps we can find ways to get those needs met in such a way that doesn’t compromise our sense of self or safety.

This concept is so relevant to me as I constantly think about our community. As humans, what we want most in life is to feel that we matter, that we are a part of something bigger than us. This is true whether you’re an individual or part of a team or company. When you feel like you have purpose, when you can see how your actions matter, then it doesn’t matter if it’s a family member, friend or coworker who makes you feel this way — as long as someone does!

Wanting community and needing community does not have to be mutually exclusive, according to a new study. The research shows that people who feel the need for social interaction can still enjoy a sense of belonging and community if they are able to achieve it.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University reviewed the existing literature on belongingness and community, which has been shown to be essential for mental health and well-being. They found that belongingness is defined as a subjective feeling that one is accepted and valued as a member of a group, while community describes shared values among people who live in close proximity, such as having mutual friends or being part of the same neighborhood.

“What we found was that belongingness refers to a person’s subjective feeling of being accepted by others,” said Sarah Schreiber, Ph.D., an assistant professor in FAU’s Department of Psychology who led the study. “Community refers more to objective membership in groups.”

People require connections, but they also want them. With careful consideration and an openness to change, these two ideals are not mutually exclusive. When we unwrap ourselves from discomfort that comes with a need for security, it frees us to enjoy the benefits of having a community of people who will share in our successes, provide encouragement when we have failed, and even offer help when we become overwhelmed.

As I reviewed 2022 at Keller, more specifically looked back at the things I am most proud of, I think of the community that we have built together. I have always maintained that this place was built to fulfill my WANT for community, but that discussion with a friend and colleague allowed me to realize that my NEED for this community at Keller is just as strong. Furthermore, I have no doubt that Keller Street CoWork is a community of many who feel the same.  

*If you haven’t been in and want to check it out, take a tour. We’d love you to join our community!

Photo by Helena Lopes