August 16, 2016

How a Small Confession helped me Stop Feeling Inferior.

U.S. Embassy The Hague/Flickr

I have a confession: I’m 35, and up until a few months ago I didn’t know what a bread knife was.

This fact was truly terrifying to my aunt. She’s from Long Island (if that means anything to anyone) and when I was cutting bread with a regular knife she asked where my bread knife was. I said, “What’s a bread knife?” That’s when things got weird. She looked at me like I had just told her I enjoy kicking kittens and eat human fingers in my spare time.

“How is that possible?” she asked.

I answered honestly and cautiously, “I don’t know. It’s just how my life played out.”

She showed me what a bread knife is and then how to cut with it. She cut that bread like she was doing brain surgery. I watched intently, scared about what would happen if I didn’t pretend to be interested. I mean she did have a knife, and an inexplicable rage for my lack of cooking-utensil knowledge.

Now, I know this aunt pretty well. There is a zero percent chance she went back to Long Island and told no one. I’m sure all her friends and everyone in my husband’s family knows my dirty little secret. Every time I walk by someone from my husband’s side of the family, there will be whispers about how I don’t know how to cook and my poor family probably eats sloth and dog food for dinner.

I also know that I have a choice: to give a f*ck or not.

I chose the latter.

I’ve made peace with the fact that cooking isn’t my thing. I know that my aunt and other members of my family take a lot of pride in their cooking. They even derive some of their self-worth from cooking. I’m happy for them. Find whatever makes you happy and do it well and feel proud. Just don’t expect that “thing” to be the same for everyone.

When people act appalled that I don’t know something, it often has nothing to with me. It has to do with their need to feel better about themselves. My aunt was happy I didn’t know what a bread knife was because it made her feel superior. I have no control over that. The truth is she’s not a terrible person, and I’m not a terrible person. I just didn’t know what a bread knife was.

That, my friends, is the beauty of life: you get to live it however you choose. If cooking is important to you, great! If it’s not important to you, great! Be whoever you are and let others be whoever they are. If people want to try to make you feel bad for not knowing something or for taking a different path, accept that you can not control that. However, you can control your reaction to it.

I’m willing to bet the original gangsta Eleanor Roosevelt* didn’t know what a bread knife was and didn’t waste a second of her life feeling bad about it. As she famously stated, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

So when this aunt makes digs at me, I channel my inner Roosevelt diva and let it go. Life is ridiculous. People are ridiculous. It can make you bitter or it can make you laugh. The choice is yours.


*I have no factual or historical knowledge pertaining to Eleanor Roosevelt’s bread knife knowledge.


Author: Deirdre Londergan

Image: U.S. Embassy The Hague/Flickr

Apprentice Editor: Devin Mudcat Kelly; Editor: Nicole Cameron

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