‘Twas the day after Christmas and Kevin was home from work. He was taking a vacation day to hang out with us some more. (I get grossed out by “staycation” and “vacay,” along with other words/phrases from a recent-but-not-quite era of, “Wanna come with?” or hanging out with the “‘rents” instead of “parents.” But more recent than “fabu.”).
The whole family went for a late lunch before visiting more Christmas houses in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
I was excited to take a bite of Kevin’s fish ‘n chips. They were extra golden and piping hot, just the way I like ’em.
After the first bite, though, I craved a rough and warm washcloth to wash my tongue out. I knew they were beer-battered but they tasted extra bitter, like the beer had been replaced with nail polish remover during a kitchen prank.
I asked Kevin if he tasted anything foul so he took a second bite to see what I was talking about. He didn’t really give me his verdict but said he’d ask the waitress for a replacement entree since I clearly could not stomach the nail polish remover batter.
It wasn’t about sending back his entree to do ME a favor.
I just could not believe he couldn’t taste the bitterness. When the waitress came over and we kindly explained that something was wrong with the fish ‘n chips, Kevin finally said, “Oh, okay, I think I’m starting to taste it now” after his THIRD bite. For me, the first bite had made me wanna spit it out and lick the wall as a palate cleanser.
This reminded me of the time when two of our college housemates played an April Fool’s prank on me and the other housemate. They offered us some Rice Krispie treats when we got home late from the library. We each took a bite and I screamed in horror as they grinned and started crackin’ up. They had replaced the sugar with salt. We looked over at the other housemate who was still chewing. “ARE YOU NOT TASTING THIS!?” She said something about how it might have tasted a bit off.
People are SO different. Not some new science I’m trying to drop to ring in the New Year, but something I don’t naturally accept especially when I compare myself to others.
Even during law school, I would get so insecure when I would hear my classmates talkin’ about pulling yet another all-nighter during finals. I couldn’t function without at least seven hours of sleep so I never even TRIED to pull one all-nighter. My brain would shut down.
Oh, Jihee of a decade ago, you so funny. If you only knew what was awaiting you in the sleep department in 2014 – a three-year-old in footed dinosaur pj’s poppin’ out his room every few minutes with a new excuse for why he can’t sleep:
“I have to give you my booger, Mommy. I have one in my hand!” or
“Bless you, Mommy! I heard you sneezing so that’s why I say bless you, okay?!” or secretly trying to climb into his new roommate’s crib to force him awake, laughing hysterically together, for the next hour.
Watching Micah and Ellis in their respective toddlerhoods, I see how even two dudes created in the same womb can be so different. Micah is the food inspector, especially when it comes to food temperature. He lets the food graze his little mouth to see if it is the right temp for him to accept. It makes mealtime EXTRA delightful for his parents. Ellis, on the other hand, will tremble violently with his sweaty little fists bunched up while forcing himself to try to chew too-hot food that Mommy didn’t cool down enough. He will become a heroic firefighter or an unstoppable fat guy.
I have to keep reminding myself that people are different, and for some reason, this fish ‘n chips incident screamed it at me. This reminder may help, in addition to Watching the Road and Naming That Feeling to better navigate through 2014. People are different so you can’t compare yourself.
I’ve always needlessly beat myself up by comparing myself to others: why I share so much, being all vulnerable for no reason (this is why I love Brene Brown), why I even have such a compulsion to blog so that anyone can access my personal thoughts, why I have the tendency to be more vulnerable and naked in a world where people tend to keep the messy stuff to themselves or want to appear to have it all figured out. Or at least only share with a few close friends and not on Facebook/blog.
Are others just more mentally strong, not feeling such a need to share and reveal themselves? Why do I have to vent and tattle when I get really hurt whereas some folks seem to hold it in just fine? In turn, I’ve also judged others for not sharing as much because it seemed unfair, and I would dare myself to stop being so open…to go against my very nature.
Sure, if I can learn from others because they have better ways of doing things, then by all means, I should adopt new habits and improve myself, but if it’s my general constitution, why not learn to just embrace it and stop battling myself so much?
I also realized that one of the MANY reasons I have trouble saying, “I LOVE to write,” or that I want to write more than anything else is that I kept imagining the natural response to be, “Yeah, who doesn’t?,” like everyone in LA working on a screenplay or every other Mommy becoming a blogger. I would try to demote it to saying, “I love telling stories” or the wordy, roundabout version of, “I really like to talk, like connect with others in person, or uh, through writing.”
But seeing that I’d rather write than exhale and eat or watch TV when the kids are asleep, I want to embrace me for how God uniquely created me.
With highly sensitive taste buds, vulnerability for days, and a love for writing.