This post was originally written in March 2014. I haven’t written in a while. Mostly because I have been completely absorbed with my Self. Now usually I wouldn’t admit that (out loud). The truth is since I’ve moved to Austin and started culinary school at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts, I haven’t made time for anything else. Being Self-absorbed is a full-time job. Before I go any further, let me define “Self-absorbed” in the context I am writing about: Self-absorbed: Taking the time to look within. Noticing and approving of (as opposed to judging and making wrong) your thoughts, feelings, and actions. A few days ago a classmate of mine told me to get over myself after I shared that I carved my initials on the bread I made.
I was confused, hurt, and angry. I reacted like the 12-year old Vasavi would. At first I bottled it up (for like 2 minutes). And then, the inner battle began. “Who the hell does she think she is? Wait, do I need to get over myself? Should I have not initialed my bread? Wait a minute. WAIT A MINUTE. Does she think I’m arrogant and self-absorbed? Screw her. She’s not my friend anymore. See? No one gets me ever. I’m all alone.” And then, I unleashed my beast. I found the perfect opportunity to let her have it. It went a little something like this: “Oh, so clearly I need to get over myself.” She responded but I have no clue what she said because, at that point, my beast had taken over. All I could see was RED. “Yeah keep talking. I’m walking away now. Yup Yup. Uh-huh. Whatever.” This went on for about 5 minutes. By the end of the conversation, I stepped outside bawling my eyes out. Wailing. I felt so alone. Clearly I needed to get over myself. Or did I? Without proper context it would appear I was emotionally unstable, reactive, dramatic, and immature. By the way, I can be all of that. However after a little “Self-absorbed” time, I understood what this classmate triggered within me.
- Believing there was something wrong with sharing my accomplishments.
- Believing I can’t be too awesome otherwise people will hate me.
- Believing I deserve to be humbled since I have broad streaks of arrogance that surface from time to time.
- Believing I can only share myself with limits.
- Believing I should wait to be acknowledged and complimented rather than giving it to my Self.
But in THAT moment, my mind went blank. Every trick, personal growth mantra, affirmation, self-awareness, and pattern-interrupting technique went out the window in that moment. I got triggered. Have you ever been in a situation where every single piece of advice, tip, trick has gone out the window? Yeah, me too. It’s like you’re 12 (or 5 or 7 years old) all over again and you forget that whatever “attack” you’re experiencing isn’t really happening to you. I’m not going to tell you a backstory about WHY I hold those beliefs. I won’t tell you not to get triggered. I won’t even tell you to take the “high road” or “spiritual path.” I believe part of the reason why we are so emotionally and spiritually constipated is because we want to intellectualize, rationalize, or worse, spiritualize our feelings and experiences. Spiritualize: attaching a spiritual reason as to why whatever is happening in our life is happening, thereby robbing us of simply being with the emotion, feeling, or experience. Though I’m inclined to take the high road because quite frankly any other way doesn’t feel aligned, the result can be debilitating. This can keep you spinning in circles and confused as to why you keep attracting and repeating certain relationship patterns with yourself or others. What I do want to share is the lesson that surfaced for me since I’ve joined the “real world.” Yes, culinary school is the real world. Unlike 99% of the people I interact with where everyone knows who people like Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, and Don Miguel Ruiz, or the top personal growth/entrepreneur blogs are, culinary school reflects the majority of people walking this Earth. Needless to say it’s been an adjustment and ego check for me. The truth is, no one is “wowed” by my accomplishments, TV appearances, fancy website, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook fan page. No one gives a shit. In this place, we have a love and deep respect for plant-based cooking. That is what binds us together. It took this recent experience with my classmate for me to understand this hard lesson and recurring theme. That I need to make time to notice who I am without the external validation and approval. Who am I without the “fan mail,” constant interview requests, and monitoring my Facebook likes (and unlikes)? It’s like that final battle between Eminem and Papa Doc in 8 Mile:
Let me tell you who I am. I think very highly of myself and truly believe I can do anything. I also feel inadequate most of the time. I love to be the center of attention. But I compare myself to my Self on a daily basis. I’m clear that there is still a ton more of inner work and growth that I need to do. I also love taking shortcuts. I don’t take No for answer. And surrendering makes me anxious. I own that I am arrogant. But the minute I sense that someone doesn’t like me, I make myself small. And as much as it scares the crap out of us to be judged or rejected when we get this real with each other, we must own up to the truth. Because once you stop exhausting all of your energy to uphold some persona of who you think you ought to be, you can finally channel your energy on being more of who you already are. And that’s how you end the battle.