Food Truck Faux Pas
This weekend, while standing in a food truck line waiting to order a cheeseburger, I couldn’t help but stare at a group of women next to me. Fortunately for me, I had sunglasses on so it wasn’t entirely obvious that I was staring at them.
They looked the same, for the most part. Tall, blonde, light blue denim shorts, a flowing white button-up over a neutral tank top, gold jewelry, white shoes, and black sunglasses. That’s what they were all wearing. As I looked at them, I noticed a nagging voice in the back of my head growing louder and louder.
I call that voice judgment. As I watched them, judgment began criticizing them for looking the same and wearing the same outfit. They were all very “in style”, but they also looked exactly the same. I laughed to myself, thinking “they all look the same and I don’t”. I wanted to feel superior, but I wasn’t proud that I was judging these women. As a woman, knowing exactly how much effort they likely put into their outfits and the amount of money they probably spent to look the way they did, I felt guilty and disappointed.
Rather than allowing the voice to dominate my thoughts, I asked myself, “what am I really feeling that is driving this judgment?” I took a breath, silenced my mind, and allowed my emotions to come through. In other words, I took a moment to practice mindfulness.
Insecurity and jealousy. That’s what I was feeling. Their outfits were so well put-together while I felt average at best. Their beauty was making me feel insecure. Having new clarity on what I was feeling, I decided to be honest with myself instead of picking at them to feel superior; I knew my reaction had everything to do with me and nothing to do with them.
The truth is, I haven’t gone shopping for day-to-day clothing since early 2020. You know, those pre-pandemic days. Many people probably fall into the same boat. Before the pandemic, I felt stylish, and fashionable, and loved the clothes I wore. Today, I feel out of date. I also don’t particularly enjoy shopping because women’s sizes are an unpredictable and confusing mess. But, that’s a story for a different day.
My judgmental voice was trying to protect me from the insecurity I’ve been feeling for a couple of months now. Knowing I don’t have the budget to replace my closet entirely, I’ve been wearing what I already own and feeling a little frumpy. But, I don’t want to be someone who shields myself from uncomfortable emotions by attacking other people, whether they hear the attack or not. I knew what I was thinking and I didn’t like the cruelty in my thoughts.
So, I decided to do the most honest thing I could think of; I picked up my order and marched back to my husband to share what had just happened.
“I was standing in line waiting for my food and I started judging those beautiful women by me because I felt insecure about my outfit and myself,” I said.
“So, what did we learn from this experience?”, he asked.
“I’m not sure what answer you’re looking for….” I said.
“You’re a nicer person after you’ve had food,” he said.
I laughed. True, the worst version of me comes out when I’m hungry, but I still admired the simple and compassionate response he shared with me. I felt my way through my thoughts and he showed me how to, lovingly, release any shame or self-judgment I carried. I was grateful.
So, I want to know, do you get curious about your emotions when your mind is reacting defensively? What would it feel like to explore that space? Perhaps the idea of doing so seems vulnerable and foreign. That’s okay. Maybe it’s something you hadn’t thought of before. Would you be willing to try? In doing so, do you think you could practice compassion toward yourself and feel through the thoughts? I’d love to hear about it if you decide to give it a try.
I have to give myself credit for bravely diving into my own emotions when I recognized something I didn’t like in my thought pattern. I’m proud of myself for doing that. Really, it’s just further proof that we can observe our thoughts, not just react to them.