I see it all over my newsfeed. A glass of it in the hands of laughing friends, relaxing together. Being sipped as swanky folks prep their grass-fed, wild-caught, do-I-even-need-to-say-organic dinner. It gets paired with ski holidays, blissful date nights, and jazz only smart people understand. It says class, it says refinement, it says grown-up.
So, I want to drink red wine.
There are just two problems:
- I don’t really like red wine. I mean, it’s good. But the only times I’ve gotten really excited about it were when it was either sangria or Manischewitz, both of which are more like lightly-liquored Kool-Aid than true vino. High. Class.
- I’m allergic to red wine. I’m not 100% sure of this, but there’s a strong body of evidence to suggest it. After two or three small sips, I can feel my face and neck get uncomfortably hot and flushed. I don’t know what happens if I finish a whole glass because I’m a little too scared to find out.
Any reasonable person would look at those two items (Um, hello? Or just #2 by itself?) and conclude, “I’m not ever going to drink red wine again.” And yet, when red wine crosses my path every few months at a friend’s house or holiday celebration, there I am, happily nodding “yeah, sure, I’ll have a glass.” Yeah, sure, and maybe toss me a swarm of bees as a chaser.
So, why have I insisted on continuing to drink something that I don’t really like and I’m probably allergic to?
Let’s look back on that first full paragraph, shall we? It’s rather telling. It’s not the wine I want. It’s the lifestyle I want. It’s the image I want. I want to be the type of person who drinks red wine because I want to imagine that I’m the type of person who goes on ski trips and spends long evenings preparing gourmet dinners and lounging away the rest of the night listening to jazz.
Perhaps more importantly, I want other people to think of me as the type of person who does the ski-gourmet-jazz thing.
Which is a little crazy. I mean, for the love of all that’s Pete, I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO SKI.
Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better at thinking through these things and reflecting on my behaviors and the thoughts that fuel them. Who am I trying to impress? (And how in the world do I think it will impress them if I end up red-faced and vomiting?) What is it I’m really after? (Friendship and approval? By people who know me so little that they’re actually fooled into thinking I ski-gourmet-jazz?)
I’m better at letting go of the things which aren’t me. I’m more at peace with who I am. Who I really am. I’ve gotten better figuring out what is truly the whale of self, and which things are simply barnacles that I’ve allowed, or even encouraged, to attach to me. (Whales and barnacles. Don’t ask me where I get these analogies.)
When I’m honest with myself, there are plenty of barnacles besides the red wine one:
- I WISH I was an uber homeschooling mom who had all kinds of fascinating field trips and themed snacks for every unit BUT REALLY I’m happy to just make it through the math lesson without tears on anyone’s part.
- I WISH I was the type of person who always has a neat and clear desk BUT REALLY as I type this, my laptop is teetering on top of a notepad and a stack of drawings from my kids, surrounded on all sides by more piles.
- I WISH I always looked put-together and classy BUT REALLY my hair is still cycling through the golden trifecta and I believe this is the third day in a row I’ve worn this pair of yoga pants. The socks are clean, though.
But you know what? I realized that I’m actually fine with all those BUT REALLYs about myself. My kids get educated, I get my work done despite the piles, and I dress up on occasion but don’t need to look great every day. My husband and kids and family and friends love me, and all is well in my world. My true whale self is happy without those things.
So, it’s time to scrape those barnacles off. (Which a real whale wouldn’t do, but whatever. It’s an analogy.)
Good-bye, red wine! This whale doesn’t need you anymore.
(Jazz and gourmet, you’re okay to stay. I like you even though we don’t hang out often. Skiing? You intrigue me. Stick around and we’ll see if life ever drops me on a snowy mountain.)