When I was a little kid, I remember only liking two foods – mac ‘n cheese and mashed potatoes. Everything else was strange and foreign. I felt like I could choke down a new food but I couldn’t imagine eating other foods regularly. Potatoes and noodles were the staple food of my youth.
It wasn’t until I traveled to Spain that my palette changed. Suddenly I was living in a new culture and had to conform to the diet – which consisted mostly of fish. Where I stayed they didn’t know what mac ‘n cheese was and mashed potatoes were a rarity. So the more I ate fish, the more I grew to the taste. After trying it, I could try other foods and expand further.
The change wasn’t immediate when I got home though. Most of my diet remained the same as it was before. Over time my tastes expanded with each place I went. Things that I didn’t enjoy at all, like raw tomatoes and avocados, became a huge part of my diet.
When I moved out last year, I left home and my family’s cooking. Not only did I leave having access to a kitchen, I left my part of the country. Foods native to Minnesota (are there even any?) were much less prominent in Texas and Mississippi. I was forced to change my diet.
When I finally got out to Charleston, South Carolina I realized that I have become a total foodie. Going downtown is like an adventure trying to find the best restaurant. Finding a new atmosphere and a new climate has become exciting and fun rather than stressful.
As I look back at myself, I realize that my taste preference wasn’t the only thing that changed. I’ve come to know that “variety is the spice of life”. There’s so much joy in new experience and new things.
When we only eat apples, we don’t know what an orange tastes like. We can’t understand why people make a funny face when they eat a lemon or cry while handling onions. We don’t know how deep a cheese can taste or how flavorful raspberries are.
By restricting ourselves to doing the same things repeatedly, we miss out on all the wonderful things life has to offer. Yesterday I was at a music store and started a conversation with a stranger about some bands I love. It turns out that she was into the exact same bands as I was. We spent the next half an hour talking about new bands to listen to and being giddy about the ones we loved. My life was so richer sharing that experience with her.
For the past month I’ve been going downtown to various new places that people recommend to me. One of the places I ran across was a bakery. I originally went there for bread but I found out that they have a lot of odd products you can’t find other places. Since finding it, I’ve tried sun-dried tomato bread, yogurt-soda, sesame seed bars, and drinks make from aloe vera plants. Each item was a brand new experience and an exhilaration. Each time I went, I’ve run across the same baker who laughs and smiles at my craziness.
I know that being adventurous is contagious and I think that all humans crave experience. Some just have a self-imposed barriers – fears they think they face alone. We fear being rejected by new people, going to places we’ve never been, and trying new things. Everyone faces them.
Why? Because we don’t understand that part of the experience is that occasional rejection. Almost spurting yogurt-soda out your car window because it tastes so horrible. Having a great story to tell when you get lost in the ginormous Paris airport. Vlogging in public and having people jump into the back of your videos.
The thing is, I can’t push you over your fears. I can’t make you realize how much it’s worth it to conquer them. That’s something only you can figure out yourself. I can only tell you that variety is the spice of life and living with just salt and pepper is a boring way to live. If you’ve only got 80 years to live, then what are you waiting for?
Go try sushi for the first time, I did that last month. Buy plane tickets to that country you’ve always wanted to see. Talk to that person you like because life begins outside of your comfort zone. And who knows, maybe that person likes you too. You’ll never know if you don’t try.
In the comments, tell me something you’ve always wanted to do but have been too afraid to try.