Really Wanting It

Whilst the performances on last night’s X Factor seemed average to me (I can’t see a world class recording artist in there), I was more interested by a concept and language that runs through X Factor and other such programmes, which is creeping into modern life – ‘really wanting it’.
It’s not enough in X Factor to work hard and do what the coaches, mentors, etc tell you to do, you have to ‘really want it’. That makes sense at one level. To do anything in life, you have to want to do something, to buckle down, study hard, make sacrifices etc; what ever it takes. But in X Factor, it’s not enough to really want something, you have to ‘really want it’. But, does really wanting something as opposed to just wanting something add some special power to the voice or the performance. When Louis says ‘I know you really want this so much’, does it turn the average performance I have just witnessed into something magical? And, even worse, when people are being voted off, there are discussions about ‘who really wants it more’? What does all this mean?
When I was young, I really wanted lots of things, most of which I can’t remember now and although I’ve wanted things all my adult life, I’ve only really wanted two things in the last fifteen years. I really wanted my mother to be cured of cancer and I really wanted to live my life with the woman I loved and and her daughter. And I really wanted those things, 110%, 1000% (to use other X Factor cliches). I wanted them so much it burned. But the brutal truth is that ‘really wanting’ made them neither easier to happen nor easier to take when things didn’t work out. And when I see X Factor contestants crying on stage when their dreams are shattered, I don’t laugh. I know what it’s like to really want something more than anything in the world and fall short.
But do I really want anything more than someone else? I don’t know because there is no conceivable scale on which this can judged. How does a 16 year old’s dream match up to the dream of a single mum of two who’s had a rough life and wants to give her kids a better life? A 16 year old may not think there is more to life than X Factor but a single mum should know there is. And when they both say ‘it means everything to me, I really want it’, they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Which of them really wants or deserves it more? I don’t know. I’m Generation X not Generation X Factor. I just don’t quite get it but I really want to understand.


About Peter Domican
Marketer and change professional. Writer and photographer.

3 Responses to Really Wanting It

  1. Claire King says:

    Excellent post, Pete. I don’t watch X-factor, but I’ll admit to a little Masterchef and the formula seems to be the same. There’s a production need to raise the stakes for the contestants, push their desire to explosive heights. “If I don’t win this competition I just don’t know how I’ll carry on… ” so that when their chocolate fondants harden like bullets, we the audience know a tragedy is in the offing, and we begin to grieve for them. We know how much they really wanted it.

  2. And you also have to “really want it, but not too much”. You have to have dreams, but not ambitions, because being openly ambitious is bad. Even though all the huge pop stars they’re presumably meant to be emulating must have been overwhelmingly ambitious and driven.

  3. Martha says:

    Great post there — and the truth is, these things don’t come to the ones that REALLY want it — they come to the ones who are really good at it, and who hit lucky on the day. Wanting can get you a lot of places, but not always and not forever. Life is a tease, clocks lie, and if we do get what we want, we need to hold the moment sacred.

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