Familiar is Not Necessarily Best

The other day, the gentleman I’m seeing offered to make me a latté and was showing me how his really quite nice home espresso machine and frother worked. He stopped himself mid-sentence. “Look who I’m explaining this to!” he said with embarrassment. “You could run circles around me in the kitchen!” I assured him that wasn’t the case and we can all learn new methods of doing things. Everyone has something to teach.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. We think we know how to do something. We’ve maybe even mastered it. We get comfortable in the way it’s always been and fall into thinking that’s just it. Our patterns are set and we keep repeating them (whether consciously or subconsciously). We just don’t know anything else.

Maybe you, like me, grew up eating canned vegetables, thinking the muted color and mushy texture were normal. I thought I knew what peas tasted like. (I hate peas.) But as an adult, I discovered fresh, flavorful, more nutritious versions of vegetables (including peas) and discovered that what I had grown to accept as standard was not how it had to be. Maybe you also had macaroni and cheese from a box and you liked it well enough. It’s what you were used to. That’s what mac and cheese is, right? Then someone comes along and makes it from scratch. They boil the pasta. They use a mixture of gooey, creamy, stringy actual cheeses, real milk, seasonings, etc. and actually make Real Mac and Cheese The quality is clearly better but it just doesn’t compute. “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be”, you might think. Can you even let yourself like the higher quality, more nutritional version?

Our patterns and habits can stunt us in a myriad of ways. We may have found emotionally unavailable partners more intriguing and attractive, habitually. Many of us seem to be programmed to attract and be attracted to unhealthy mates. They are mysterious and just a bit elusive, may have a bit of a wandering eye, indecisive about what they actually want with a big fat fear of commitment. I can win him over, though. Challenge accepted – game on! That’s just the way dating is, right?

The bad boys are exciting and require the strategy of a chess match but, inevitably, it ends the same way each time. Later, rinse, repeat. As painful as it is, it’s what you’re used to. Are some of us incapable of being attracted to healthy people? It feels crappy, yet comfortable and familiar. It’s the box of dry elbow pasta with powdered “cheese product” personified, but it’s what you know. You’re trapped in a cycle that doesn’t serve you.

Decent, honest, kind people are, it seems, like a needle in a haystack but when one comes along, it’s time to break the cycle and make a shift from what we’ve grown used to accepting to what we actually deserve – an upgrade! The crappy boxed mac & cheese is NOT how it has to be and canned vegetables pretty much suck. Love yourself enough to hold out for the healthier, higher quality version of what you’ve had before. Reject what you’ve grown to accept as standard. It can, indeed, be stable, happy, angst-free and easy.

Every once in a great while, someone comes along whose priorities and values mirror your own. They’re positive, deep and steady and you don’t have to jump through hoops for them to think you measure up. In fact, they think you’re pretty fabulous just as you are and although you’ve had way too many of the lower quality versions, you’re finding them pretty fabulous too.

As for me, I’ve got a hot latté in hand, music is playing throughout the kitchen and there’s a pair of warm eyes smiling at me from across the counter helping grate the smoked Gruyere.