I am a fan of Mac and/or Cheese. I don’t get too fancy with it, I am typically satisfied with good ol’ Velveeta Shells and Cheese, but sometimes I will venture outside of my go-to and try something new.
Trying new things is hard for me, because trying new things leaves you open to being disappointed. There are a lot of people out there (and often I am THOSE PEOPLE) who would rather just stick to what is familiar, instead of venturing out into the unknown.
I recently decided to give The Cheesecake Factory the opportunity to WOW me with their version of Mac n’ Cheese, and I got to tell you, that first experience was AMAZING! That first bubbling cast iron skillet of noodles and melty dairy was pretty much everything I had ever hoped for. I couldn’t get enough of it, I devoured it in minutes. I wanted more, but I told myself that there was always tomorrow, and now that I knew where to find the perfect Mac, I could always come back to partake in its’ glory.
Maybe a week or so later I was back. I needed my Mac fix. I ordered, I waited patiently without filling up bread because I was saving myself fully for the main course. The Mac n’ Cheese arrived, I dove headlong into it, and to my great shock and dismay…it just wasn’t the same. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it was different. There were no obvious visual or textual imperfections, nevertheless it just wasn’t as good. I was baffled, bewildered, utterly beside myself…and yet…I figured that everyone has an off day and perhaps whomever was in the kitchen just “forked” it up, and that certainly it would be better the next time.
In fact, every subsequent time I have ordered the Mac n’ Cheese it has utterly failed to even come close to the quality and the enjoyment of that first experience…And I still can’t tell you why. I’m fairly certain that all of the components are the same, and that it was prepared the same, and presented the same, and yet…it’s just not the same. The truly interesting thing to me however, is the fact that even though I continue to be consistently disappointed with the meal…I continue to order it every time I go there.
My best guess is that this is a combination of my often detrimental hopeful nature, and my desire to replicate that first experience. Seriously, if every time could be like the first time, then I can’t see any reason why I would want to stray to another menu item EVER. But as it stands currently, I go, I order Mac n’ Cheese, I’m disappointed, and I leave vowing to never order it again, until the next time I go and do… in fact… order it again.
I think human relationships are sometimes like terribly disappointing Mac n’ Cheese. I think sometimes we meet someone, and that first initial experience with them (however long it lasts) is amazing…it’s incredible…it’s quite possibly the best we’ve ever had. But then something changes. Either it changes for us, or for them, but something, and then it isn’t the same, it isn’t like was it was before. Maybe it wasn’t us. Maybe we were just as excited and interested as we ever were, but something changed for them. When that happens, I think our natural response is to try and justify, rationalize, and to make excuses. “They must just be having an off day…that has lasted 4 weeks”…..or…..”Maybe I’ve done something wrong and they are waiting for me to fix it, even though they aren’t telling me what I have done wrong or how I can fix it.”
We can drive ourselves mad trying to figure out the WHY behind why it isn’t like it was before. Meanwhile, we continue to go back to that same person, and we continue to try and make things works, and we continue to be hurt and disappointed. I don’t know why we do this, and I’m sure it is not as simple as I am making it out to be…But…I do think that a least a PART of why we do it is because we are trying to recapture how amazing it was at the beginning. When we know how good something or someone CAN be, it makes it really hard to walk away from it or them. In times like these, our hopeful natures can actually hinder us from positive upward progression .
If we weren’t spending all of our time trying to recreate something that doesn’t exist anymore, then it would leave us open to finding something equally as good, and possibly better.
There is a whole 20 page menu at Cheesecake Factory, packed with so many options you could probably order something different every time you go there and still be trying new things for years. There are millions of people in the world. There may not be millions of people we can date, or form meaningful relationships with, but there are still more than what we allow ourselves to believe. If we are constantly disappointed by a person, or situation, or relationship, then why do we keep going back and believing that it is going to change?
Maybe that person is giving us false hope. Maybe they are saying one thing and their actions are showing another. If that is the case then there still comes a point where all of that becomes largely irrelevant, because at the end of the day, we are unhappy, we are unsatisfied, we are hungry.
I’m not married, so I wouldn’t feel right telling anyone what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their dating lives. I’m not telling you what to do, I am merely going to say this…
Take a look at your current relationship. It doesn’t have to be a romantic one, but it does need to be one where you feel constantly and chronically disappointed. Even if you can’t walk away, even if you feel powerless to move on, or try something different, I just want you to just try and be aware of what you are doing. That’s it, just be aware. See it, own it, accept it for what it is. When you are ready, you will let it go, you will move on, but not until you are truly ready. And that’s the point really. No amount of analogies and metaphors on my end are going to finally convince you that your time is worth more, that YOU are worth more. But someday, some moment, you are going to have a very real moment of clarity, and that moment of clarity is going to be the catalyst for you to make a change in your life, but again…only when you are ready. Take your time, this is your journey.
But if you are going to keep ordering sub par Mac n’ Cheese, I hope you at least order dessert as well, because you know…dessert.