First of all, because of my somewhat alarming love for food, I understand things much better if a food comparison can be used. And is there anything better than ice cream?
Not only is it easily comparable to life by itself, but my behavior in an ice cream or frozen yogurt shop is as well. When I first walk into my local frozen yogurt shop my 10-year-old self takes over, and after sampling at least half of the featured flavors, I fill my cup with everything I just tasted and as many toppings as possible.
Although my combinations are never bad (really, how could they be?), sometimes I wish I would have just stuck with vanilla. It gets a bad rap for being boring, but when I have the patience and self control to sit and savor plain, creamy, delicious vanilla, I am always surprised at how amazing it is: no complicated mix-ins, toppings or giant brownie underneath - just vanilla in all its beautiful simplicity.
Unfortunately, whether I choose vanilla or seven flavors swirled together, as soon as I sit down with my husband (of course he's there with me and not at all embarrassed by my displays of enthusiasm for all things dessert) I have to try a bite of his. But once I do I disappointedly "suffer" through the rest of mine because his is always better. Even though I spent a lot of time making mine the best I could and was really excited about it, the second I play the comparison game I lose sight of the amazingness in front of me waiting to be devoured.
This is something I struggle with in all life aspects and really need to work on. I think most people fall victim to this mind trap every now and again, especially with the way people see the lives of their friends and acquaintances portrayed online, but it is not a healthy way to live. When you do this, you're not only ignoring all the good things you have and do, you're wasting time and energy better spent elsewhere getting down on yourself. So much easier said than done, I know, but differences are meant to celebrated and tools for learning from one another, not breaking others or ourselves down.
I'm at a point in my life right now where I thought I'd be a little more like this:
. . . instead of a lot more like this:I know I'm not alone in this. Call it the quarter century life crisis or whatever else you want, but I thought I'd have a bit more accomplished by now and am having quite the reality check but trying to remain positive. I have had some good opportunities and experiences, and I have seen friends and acquaintances acquire even better ones. Instead of being afraid or insecure of others' successes we (I) should learn from them. This idea is a little terrifying since I'd much rather flash a weak, congratulatory smile and go wallow in my 'woe is me' thoughts than have an actual conversation with this person, but whether someone's a doctor, a marketing VP, a teacher or a taxi cab driver, I think everyone has simple vanilla days and triple chocolate mint brownie days, and we could all learn a little something from one another. People are probably more willing than we (I) think to help others out if we (I) can get over the fear of asking. My plan is to regularly interview professionals of all levels in different fields to get an idea of where they're from, where they're going and what they've learned along the way. I'm excited to gain some great insight and be able to share it with you!
Some people's lives really are never-ending scoops of exotic flavors layered in gold encrusted chocolate waffle cones or towering banana split masterpieces, but imagine those creations being built with a sour vanilla base. No amount of caramel, cookie dough or whipped cream will completely cover that. A solid, flavorful vanilla base is crucial to its success before all the toppings are added. Right now I may only have my 'base' to work on, but I'm going to do what I can to make it the best it can be, and even it only ever becomes a small sundae with bits of hot fudge and sprinkles thrown in every now and again, it's still going to be decadent and worth every bite. This is me slowly learning to embrace my vanilla and hoping you can (or already have) embrace yours too.