Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Theory & Essay

The Problem With Wanting It All

Two things dawned on me the other day while driving around and listening to Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”

1. This song is nine f*cking years old. Nine. Nine!

Nine years (Nine!) seems like a long-ass time when I say it aloud, in no small part because it seems like the older I get, the shorter the distance between events I’ve experienced seems to be. For instance, it was 2003 nine years ago. I remember 2003. I was (only) 195 pounds, I could still dunk without having to stretch for 37 minutes and juice the night before, I’d rap any voicemail message I left after 11:30pm, and I had an inappropriate obsession with Esther Baxter. And, in 2003, 1994 seemed like it happened a long-ass f*cking time ago. But, today, in 2012, 2003 doesn’t really seem like that long ago. And, if I’m lucky enough to make it to 2021, I’m sure the distance between now and then will seem even shorter.

I’d continue trying too deconstruct the meaning of all this, but the nosebleed I just developed is making it difficult to type.

2. I have exactly 98 less problems than Jay-Z.

Admittedly, what exactly constitutes a “problem” is relative. Things that may be considered problematic for others don’t necessarily rate as huge concerns for me. For instance, if Jay-Z woke up tomorrow morning with a bank balance that mirrored mine, that would (probably) be a big problem for him. And by “that would (probably) be a big problem for him” I mean “he’d likely consider suicide.”

With all that being said, although I don’t have as many problems as Jay-Z claims to, my problem, although singular, is a f*cking doozy. It affects each of my actions, permeates each of my thoughts, and has managed to infiltrate (and, occasionally, sabotage) every plan I’ve ever had. It mocks, teases, taunts, and torments me with a steely relentlessness that would even make Bryan Mills say “Damn, dude. Chill!”

What exactly is this problem?

I want it all.

Now, wanting it all doesn’t mean that I want everything. I don’t want everything. I don’t even want most things. If there are, I don’t know, 57 trillion things I could possibly want, I can safety say that I don’t want (at least) 56,999,999,999,900 of them. I do, though, want to be able to do everything I want to do exactly how I want to do it. And, since this is not possible, this is a problem.

How so? Well, I want real intimacy, but only on my exact terms.

I want to write with the same sense of “I’m saying this because I think it’s right (and funny), and I really don’t give a f*ck if it makes you uncomfortable”-ness that make Louis C.K. and the late Patrice O’Neal my favorite comedians, but I really don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

I want a New York salary, a D.C. community, and a Pittsburgh standard of living.

I can continue, but I think you see the point. I want things that, in the physical universe that we currently inhabit, are just not possible to achieve. In fact, not only is much of what I want impossible to achieve, they directly contradict. It is literally impossible to stuff yourself with food at a buffet and not feel the effects of being full some time later, and wanting to cultivate a truly intimate romantic relationship without making some sort of personal sacrifice is just as absurd.

Yet, I still want that. I still want the ability to make choices without possible negative consequences, and this want becomes problematic when it turns into an action (which it has). I think I’ve led a (relatively) decent life so far, but each “problem” I’ve had in the past and have today stems from me attempting to do things that just can’t be done. I guess this makes me (slightly) insane, but I don’t seem to find that to be too problematic either. Hmm. Maybe I have more than one problem.

Anyway, people of, has “wanting it all” ever been a problem for anyone reading this? Not necessarily wanting everything, but wanting to have and/or do certain things that just don’t seem to be possible? (i.e.: wanting to work your dream job and make your dream salary, hoping to find a man that’s equally ambitious/competitive and compassionate, etc) If so, how did/do you reconcile yourself with the fact that you’re chasing something that just can’t happen?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.


My Friend, Dr. Gem

  • I get this “I want it all” thing. I don’t want “it” all. I want all of what I want! As such, wanting it all. Only crazy people understand this.

    • ^^ Crazy :-/

    • Crystal

      Well call me crazy lol…I want to have all of what I want. I want to gorge out and stay a size 8 with my size 12 appetite. I want to have a Halle Berry hair cut one day and my hair grow to rapunzel length the next. I want to be a teacher making over 6 figures a year. I want to have all that I want.

      • WIP

        “I want to have a Halle Berry hair cut one day and my hair grow to rapunzel length”

        That one is easy…

    • “I want all of what I want! As such, wanting it all. Only crazy people understand this.”

      crazy, er, great minds think alike and shit

    • It makes total sense. “All” is relative, IMO. What is “all” to you ain’t “all” to me because to me, your “all” don’t even exist, thus it ain’t my “all.”

      I think I managed to make this thread crazier. Typical.

    • Very Crazy :p

  • Jay

    Totally understand. At some point I had to tell myself OK….NO MORE NEW HOBBIES. I want to do everything. My dad warned me that I would end up a jack of all trades and king of none. That frightens me.

    • And I get this too! I really have so many things I would love to do, have knowledge of everything that I find interesting. But, unfortunately, your dad is right. I need my knowledge on at least one subject to be limitless instead of being able to speak for 10 mins ONLY about 1 million things. Le puh!

      • Jay

        Right. Its a harrrrd thing to accept but its a part of growing up I’ve learned. Intensity beats extensity every time.

        • nillalatte

          I get both of you! I told my dad when I was young that I wanted a degree in everything offered. He looked shocked and said, “You’d never finish school!” He was right! Of course, at the time I didn’t know there were like thousands of different degree types. But, I have such an array of interests it’s hard to cap my curiosity. Limiting myself to one subject is so dayum hard! Sigh… I must do better. :|

        • Jay

          Me being a Libra, the fact that the most often mentioned attribute of Libras is eclecticism coupled with the fact that this is probably one of my most defining personality traits is like the ONLY thing that gives Astrology the minute amount of credibility that it has in my book.

          • b sweet

            Why don’t you give astrology any credibility?

            • Jay

              Probably for the same reasons that I’m an atheist.

          • eye(c)ande

            Hey fellow Libra! *terrorist fist bump*

            I generally agree with most descriptions of Libras except today I saw some eye-brow raisers like “claim we are social but would rather be alone.” I disagree. I don’t put too much stock in astrology but it is generally right about the signs that are…umm…harder for me to get along with or get on my ancestors’ last nerves depending on the day/sign.

            • Jay

              “claim we are social but would rather be alone.”

              You’re not helping my case. ^^That’s me.

              • eye(c)ande

                Haha! Had a feeling you were gonna say that. It’s cool. I won’t flip any tables or nothing. Shoot maybe I’m the outlier.

              • IDreamofJeannie

                Fellow Libra here.

                I’m great in social situations, but I hate people. Go figure.

                • Angel Baby

                  TRUTH lol Im a fellow a Libra.

                  • DBoySlim

                    In reference to astrology,my mother once said “If the moon can affect the water in the ocean, why can’t it affect the water in your body?” The position of the moon at your birth may have an affect. The word lunatic means ‘moon sick’. Astrology could possibly have some scientific explanations.

    • This is something i’m learning myself, at some point you’re going to have to pick an exit to get off on. In my mind theres still plenty i can be successful at but theres a reason most dont persue other dreams until they are have a comfortable enough life to do so.

      • …Or they got up there in age and want to realize all aspects of their “bucket list”.

    • Keisha

      No more new hobbies…? :-/

      I wish you would have said this yesterday BEFORE I went out and bought a sewing machine, fabric, etc…oh well. :-)

    • Rewind

      I am a jack of all trades. I’m so good at so many things but never good enough to be truly proficient. It eats me up because I have so many talents yet no way to apply them properly, which then gives me no reason to care about having enthusiasim about being better at something or just not being lazy. Ugh it sucks.

    • “My dad warned me that I would end up a jack of all trades and king of none. That frightens me”

      your dad warned you that you’d be joe johnson? damn, that sucks

      • Shogun

        Joe Johnson got a max contract tho

    • @AaidaRae

      It should scare you! Story of my life! In the process of queen ship finally but its 7 years past due! I indeed used to want all I want but I did a soul check and now I want all HE ( Most High) wants for me. Honestly being able to do a little of everything very well means doing alota noting consistently! Too much pressure. Ima Just do what I’m purposed to do and dabble in the rest…

  • Apathy and effort have been cruxes to all my issues in life not desire. I very rarely have an overwhelming desire that makes it difficult to live. I am constantly overwhelmed by projects and ideas that either half start or don’t start because more interesting things come up to explore. I’d be a great writer if I had an editor on my ass.

    • +10000

      Which reminds me, i promised myself another 2 pages of work finished by tomorrow morning. I need to get to work….. but first, more internet surfing!!!!!

    • Iceprincess

      Hey malik luv the new avi showing off the beard. Your old avi looked way different, now u showing ur masculine side. Combined with some if your posts, are you a hebrew isrealite? Cuz dat would explain alot..

      • Jay

        Soul Brother #1 swag. No shots, thats a compliment.

      • I was raised Catholic (fun with Catholic school) and I’ve been Muslim.

        • Iceprincess

          Oh, ok. Happy early Ramadan, honey.

          • Iceprincess

            You know, my mom was the same way. She was raised catholic, but once she became grown, she let us kids know in no uncertain terms that we were non-denominational christians. Because it was so many things in the catholic church that she didnt agree with, & how they treated people (including the black kids) when she was growing up in their schools. Smh

    • “I am constantly overwhelmed by projects and ideas that either half start or don’t start because more interesting things come up to explore”

      i’m the exact opposite. once i get locked in on something, i get complete tunnel vision

      • LOL, I guess I’m a little bit of both. My mind is always going faster than my pen (or typing fingers) so it DOES take a really dope project (at least dope in my mind) to completely keep my attention. And when it does… it SO does. My entire world does revolve around it… but then the raging mind of ideas I had before, becomes a whispering mind of ideas. Point is, it doesn’t completely shut up… it just gets a tad quieter. Then, I write it down for later.

        Writing things down for later has easily saved my life. lol Thank you Based Notes App.

    • You look handsome. ;-)

  • Don’t judge me but…. I was listening to the 69 Boyz “Tootsee Roll” the other day and heard them going on about how the tootsie roll is a brand new dance for 1994. My mind realized that 1994 is almost 20 years ago. I started feeling sad and thinking of all the things that have happened in those almost 20 years then listened to “Kitty Kitty”

    • Val

      I just want to know where you heard Tootsie Roll? Lol I can’t even remember the last time I heard that song.

      • Iceprincess

        I dont kno what u been told, it aint da buttafly, its da tootsie role, a brand new dance out, so grab a patna, & get ob da dance flo, uh-oh u got it…….

      • If you keep clicking on related videos on Youtube you end up in scary place. lol

      • kid video

        I just want to know where you heard Tootsie Roll? Lol I can’t even remember the last time I heard that song.

        U must not live in tha south…

    • REAL TALK! I heard that song a week ago and was thinking the same thing. I was thinking about how much I used to clown my dad for “Mustang Sally,” since he really did want a brand new Mustang in 1965.

    • nillalatte

      LOL… me and a friend were strolling down memory lane tonight and playing tunes from back in the day that included….
      Isley Brothers, Choosey Lover & Don’t say goodnight
      Maxwell, Til the cops come knocking, Ascension (Don’t ever wonder)
      Groove theory, Tell Me
      Shirley Murdock, As we lay
      Prince, Do Me

      I could go on, but I think y’all get the picture. Some of these were WAY longer than 20years ago and we STILL love this soulful music.

      • Prince’s “Do Me Baby”- 31 years old and still slaughters all of the new R&B out now!

        • nillalatte

          Shhh… yes, I know we’re old. LOL I love Prince’s music, but feel out of touch with all that he’s produced over the years. When I looked up his bio on wiki, I was like DAYUMMMMM….

          I think we agreed that we love Luther Vandross the most but, I didn’t tell him I LOVED most of Marvin Gaye especially that Sexual Healing ;) *swings around in chair, turns on fan* :D

  • MrHollywood

    I TOTALLY get what you’re saying, but relax!!! LOL!!! It’s that type of thinking that’s driving so many bruthas (and people in general) crazy. We can all make it with much less than we think. Just take a second and look at all the people who don’t have what ypu have. That may change your feelings a little.

    • Rewind

      But then you look at all the people who have things you want and they look like they don’t even deserve it, which then poses the question “why the hell do they have that and I don’t after everything I’ve done?”

      It’s way too hard to be humble and simplistic sometimes.

      • Don’t think about what other people have. That simple. You’re welcome

        • Rewind

          That’s impossible. Looking at what other people have is what made you want things in the first place. Sure in due time, you figure out things for yourself, but it initially started by viewing others.

          • Its not impossible. You can look, appreciate, then stop looking. I think that must be a personality type. My sister has that envy thing. I’ve never really felt envy because I figure there will always be plenty for me. Other people have nothing to do with me. I really don’t care how much they have. That’s them.

            But if you can’t make yourself stop counting other people’s money, seems like you’re gonna live your life mad. IJS

            • Rewind

              Like I said, I know you grow into your own mind frame of how to view the world. But everyone at some point looks at another person and says “why do they have that and I don’t?”. But as you’re saying, you don’t have to do that forever. Eventually you can realize you don’t need to care about what others have, just worry about your own. But I know we always figure out what we want by evaluating what other people have and what we think we want.

              • I don’t have that “why does she have that and I don’t” thought. I never have had that. Not when I was a kid, not when I was a teenager, 20s, 30s… Neither of my parents have that. Most of my siblings don’t do that. Just one. It’s only a thought process for SOME people. They, apparently think its how everybody thinks. But its not.

                • Rewind

                  Nah you’re thinking about it in the extremely negative fasion. I’m simiply talking abou tthe basic way we get the concept of what we want, because we see what other people have. Like looking at your parents and wanting a love like theirs when you grow older. We all start out there but some people end up with that stone cold jealousy that stops them from living their own lives because they keep paying attention to other people.

    • “It’s that type of thinking that’s driving so many bruthas (and people in general) crazy. We can all make it with much less than we think. Just take a second and look at all the people who don’t have what ypu have.”

      that’s the thing, though. it’s not about wanting things that other people have. i don’t. i just want some things that aren’t possible to be had.

      • notsurey3t

        +1 – if i could find a way to spend less time focusing on the truly impossible and doing the work on the possible dreams, well, who knows where that might lead …

        But then, that’s really part of my problem – not wanting to work hard on the possible

  • I used to want it all but then i realized it was too much work so then I wanted it less and now I just want to be content with the world. If I go out, do my schoolwork and get back home safe, then I’m happy with that!

    • AfroPetite

      *Raises glass*

      I’m coming to terms with the fact that I probably will never have 100% of everything I desire and that’s fine :-D

  • CaSweetface

    I’ve been having a hard te sleekly lately because of pretty much 90% of what this post is talking about. I start and rarely finish way too much ish and I work some where that makes me angry because it’s so stable and boring and doesn’t fulfill me. My newest project is definitely reconciling all of my ideas, thoughts, passions into something clear and concise and freaking doable. I don’t want to be 40 talking about this same mess. I just don’t!

    • Shuga_B

      YES!!…thank you for crawling into my head space and putting my exact thoughts on the table…

    • WIP

      LOL, I have to pull myself out of this all the time. I have to force myself to put the energy of my “new idea” into my current project. If you’re always thinking of something better, you’ll never finish anything.

  • Val

    The problem isn’t wanting it all, the problem is wanting something that is impossible to obtain.

    I want to marry my girlfriend in the State that I live and our marriage to be recognized. I want to be able to live anywhere in this country and have that marriage recognized. This is wanting something that is impossible to obtain.

    And I have, and do, consider moving to Canada.

    • Rewind

      Come to NY. We finally got our crap together this year.

    • “I want to marry my girlfriend in the State that I live and our marriage to be recognized. I want to be able to live anywhere in this country and have that marriage recognized. This is wanting something that is impossible to obtain.”

      it’s currently not possible, but i don’t think i’d call this impossible

  • whostolethesoul1

    This post sums up the point at which I realized I was maturing faster than i wanted…i had to re-prioritize my life and literally accept that some of my experiences were a pinnacle, no one wants to believe the MOST fun they had is in the past.

    • i guess it depends on how you define “fun”

      • whostolethesoul1

        exactly, the definition has become fluid

  • Wanting it all has never been a problem for me. Prioritizing and organizing my wants, HAS. I firmly believe we can have (mostly) what we want as long as we:
    A – Truly understand what it is we are asking for.
    B – Learn how to systematically move forward to our goals. And
    C – Make sure that our goals don’t conflict with each other. (Which actually ties into “A”)

    Why can’t you work your dream job and have your dream salary or income? People do this literally all the time.

    Why can’t you be 30+ and start your rap career? 2 Chainz did it.

    Seriously, even when it comes to dating I’ve found that while you may not be able to pull the exact person you want, say Ester Baxter. You can absolutely pull a person just -like- the person you want.

    I guess I’ve never accepted the concept that I was chasing something for my life that “just can’t happen”.

    With singularity of drive and focus, none of us are I think.

    • Beautifullyhuman

      Your comment somewhat piggyback’s off the Law of Attraction: we attract what we think about, whether negative or positive. As I’ve aged, I’ve discovered the power in thoughts.

      I wholeheartedly agree with your comment.

    • Val

      “I guess I’ve never accepted the concept that I was chasing something for my life that “just can’t happen”.”

      I get that. That’s called “hope”. Once someone loses hope then it really is all over. Add some work to hope and you never know what can happen.

    • Dear Jerome,

      Thanks for ruining my life and dashing any faith I had left in humanity. I read your comment and was like, “thirty? Can’t be. Because didn’t he already ‘start’ his rap career as ::cringe:: Tity Boi? He had to have been younger.” So I consulted Wikipedia. Lo and freaking behold, HE *WAS* TITY BOI AT THIRTY. Which means (1) I just typed “tity boi” three times, once in capital letters, and (2) 2 Chainz is almost 40 damn years old. All of this saddens me. Thanks a lot, Jerome.

      • LOL damn!!! See, i didn’t know he was almost 40!!!!! That makes the story even better!

        • Rewind

          What’s even more scary is that most of the successful rappers out today are between 32-45 and yet still talk like they are 21. You can’t tell me that’s not creepy.

      • WIP

        LOL! I’d gues “tity boi” may have been a nickname- I’ve heard it before. Still not something you want to get printed on a business card…

    • This may be slightly ot, but yes the Law is Attraction is real! The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that as well

    • “Why can’t you be 30+ and start your rap career? 2 Chainz did it.”

      As did Plies, Coolio and Maino. Notice a common thread here?

    • YeahSo

      “Why can’t you be 30+ and start your rap career? 2 Chainz did it.”
      -Urrrahhh 2 Chainz has been rapping for a very long time… please stop the bs giving these niggas false hope. Nope!! And no dem 8 bars you came up with in the car on the way home from the gym ain’t hot. Have a seat.

      • YeahSo

        Oh sh*t he really did start at 30… so he’s 40? O_o *bullet to the brain*

      • YeahSo

        Why am I being moderated for saying n*gga? I thought Gwyneth Paltrow was crucified so that all men could slur and slur more abondantly!

    • D.C._Dude

      I will have to firmly agree with you. The brain is a very unique organ and when you are able to tap into it’s abilities, it can allow you to do amazing things. With that said, you made a very good point related to drive and focus. Those key ingredients will allow you to achieve any goal you map out. I feel the same way, but everyone doesn’t possess the ability to tap into these two. Sometimes you have to make certain sacrifices that may take you out of your norm, but if you can see the bigger picture, you will know that those baby steps will eventually lead you to your destiny. If you can believe it, you can acheive it!

    • WIP

      I agree. I believe there are people who work harder than me and as a result have things/success I don’t have. Many people are not willing to do the work it takes to make things happen. Some are scared. Some are too comfortable.

    • 2 Chainz is like 35. And he’s been rapping for at least 10 years. Sure nobody heard about him until he was like 30 with Duffel Bag Boyz, but in the A, we’d heard him on other folks sh*t as Playaz Circle.

      Though I will say that I just peeped his Wikipedia page. And while his age is correct there and his college basketball career is accounted for, he left after like one year and definitely didn’t graduate with a 4.0. lol. ninjas get way too much freedom on Wikipedia.

      • YeahSo

        Ok maybe I should have read Wiki instead of taking everyone’s word for it because I thought her started before he was 30 and then read he didn’t and well… so yeah!

    • whostolethesoul1

      it’s the level of committment to really be successful at most things, especially starting a second career takes time and its pulls from relationships, with spouse and children. Usually its the sacrifices that make it feel so good when/if you realize success.

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