I grew up thinking a lot about food. In my family food was a favorite topic of conversation. Hours revolved around procuring the best ingredients, researching recipes, cooking, and of course savoring meals together.
By the time I got through college I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I liked to eat. I had a history with food. It was familiar. I found pleasure in it, so I just kept seeking more.
After graduating I spent some time in Latin America on the pretense of furthering my undergraduate work. But guess what I decided to pursue instead?
I figured out the secret to Chilean salad was sprigs of fresh parsley folded into thinly sliced onions and tomatoes. That the best Argentinian empanadas have an egg and whole olives hidden among the meat stuffing. And that dulce de leche pairs really well with bananas in ice cream.
It made sense to throw myself headfirst into culinary school. Why waste my time with anything else? Five years in the restaurant business, six as a private chef, and my standards for a good meal kept getting higher.
Until one day, not too long ago, I decided that I had enough.
I started to realize that food was a distraction.
Too many times I found myself overeating and feeling physically sick, unable to sleep, or lethargic the next day. I was so busy searching for the perfect ingredient, focused on the ideal recipe, or consumed by hunting down the best restaurant that I missed out on everything else going on around me.
My kids' conversations. A thought my husband had for an article. A friend's idea for a future business. When I took the filter of food off my lens, I began to see the other dimensions to my world that I was missing.
My brain was consumed by thoughts about food for a long time. When I learned how to redirect these thoughts, I was amazed at the space that opened in my mind. Ideas I never knew were there. Inspiration to change my life. My thinking started to evolve.
For awhile I wrestled with this change. I thought "Food is who you are. It is your identity." But the truth is, I am not defined by my habits, and neither are you. Just because we have always done things a certain way does not mean that's who we are. And it certainly does not need to be our future.
So many of us choose to think things like "I am a procrastinator. I have always been that way." Or, "I am not athletic. I don't have the right body." Sometimes the thought seems so innocent, like "I am just an anxious person."
Who we are is so much more than the result of old habits that we learned as a kid or actions we unconsciously choose as adults. We are not our past. And we do have ownership over our future.
Our identity is who were created to be. It is the best version of ourselves. It is all we are capable of. It is the truth of who we are once we peel back all the layers of distraction.
Do you know who you are? Are you willing to find out by allowing all the discomfort, raw emotion and undistracted thoughts to be there? Invite them all in, and be prepared to sit with them awhile. Resist the urge to distract yourself. Listen while they speak their peace. Then decide what truth you want to believe about yourself.