July 16th, 2012
I’ve always been a Maker’s Mark girl. And by “always” I mean, ever since my senior year in college when I decided that whisky was cool, and a fancy kind of whisky was even cooler. And I’ve worn this label like a badge of honor all these years. And consequently, it’s become a part of my identity. Another item in the bag of “things that make me, me.” Or rather, “things that make me able to tell you something ABOUT me, without having to actually say any words.
Like “Hi, I’m Sally…I like guns and drink Maker’s, so therefore I must be tough and a bit rebellious, but I have refined taste.”
So you can imagine my surprise, as I’ve been undergoing a bourbon taste test lately, to find out that I do not, in fact, think Maker’s Mark is the best bourbon anymore. I’ve found that there are better ones out there. And I just never knew that, because I never questioned it.
And as I’ve been pondering all this, it occurred to me that we all have so much wrapped up in the identities we’ve created for ourselves so long ago. We go along, day by day, accepting these self-imposed identity rules, without ne’er a question. That just because we decided something about who we were, back in the day, that we must uphold these constructs, because essentially, if we don’t have them, we don’t know who we are.
And this becomes a problem. Because inevitably, we all change. Things change. Ideas and desires change. Wants and likes change. What we thought we wanted life to be like in our 20’s might look very different than what we want life to be like once we get to our 30’s. And so on.
And so if we believe that we must always stay the same, the second we actually want something different, we question ourselves. Is it ok to want a new type of whisky? Is it ok to not want whisky at all anymore? What if I suddenly start wanting gin…what does that say about me? If I’m no longer “Sally Hope, who likes Maker’s Mark,” who am I?
We all know that snakes shed their skin. They slough off the old, to create way for the shiny and beautiful new. It’s not considered weird, it’s considered part of life. And that’s what I’m proposing here for each of us. That we get to be our snakey selves. And slough off old skin that doesn’t fit us anymore. So we can try on new skin, and then DECIDE which skin fits us best, at this point in time. To really look inside and evaluate which colors we want to keep. And which feel like old news.
There is nothing wrong with wanting and liking things that are indicators of identity. The message more here is that it’s ok to not like, anymore, what you used to like. Or to like something you never thought you would. Sticking to what you’ve always believed about yourself isn’t mandatory, and in my opinion, it’s a wall to personal growth and discovery. The goal isn’t to always stay the same, but to question, evaluate, and always be learning about yourself and improving upon the skin that came before. To add colors when needed. To remove scales when necessary. And to completely leave behind everything previously known, when called to do so.
So tonight…it’s a gin and tonic for me. What’s it going to be for you? What “old skin” might you be wearing? Where in your life do you feel you could leave something behind to make room for the new? Leave a comment below, fellow snake, and share with your snake-like peeps.