For many years, I felt anxiety every time I had to set a table for a meal.
Growing up, my mom was very particular about how she wanted her table set. I think she learned this in school or something (I just realized I have never asked her this question).
She wanted the bottom of the dinner plates even with edge of the table. Forks on left (salad fork on the outside, dinner fork on the inside) with freshly pressed cloth napkins under the forks. Spoon and knife on the right, with the knife closest to the plate. The sharp-edge of knife blade was turned in towards the plate. And don’t get me started on glasses. SO many glasses.
Problem is I’m left-handed. And I do a lot of things backward. Including placing forks and other utensils on a table.
My anxiety came because after I set the table, my mom would come behind me and “fix” everything that she saw was “wrong.” And my young brain interpreted that as “everything I do is wrong.” Verily, my anxiety grew.
One day as an adult, I realized something amazing: it didn’t fricking matter how the table was set! These were a set of rules created by someone long ago for a set of reasons that certainly do not apply to me today.
I have no intention of having a fancy-schmancy dinner. And the chances of the President of the United States or the Queen of England coming to my home for dinner are slim to none.
Most importantly, I can’t really think of anyone else (except my mom) who might gives a rat’s behind how my table is set.
So, I’ve decided not sweat it. And I’ve freed myself from a lot of:
- Excessive amounts of flatware
- A need for “good” china”
- Ironing of linen napkins (or at least putting them in the dryer to get the wrinkles out)
And I feel awesome for it. Life is simpler. I am happier. And food tastes just as good.
I wonder, gentle reader, is there a place in your life where you are operating under “old conditioning” that is no longer serving you?
Are you “doing” something antiquated, archaic, fussy, precise, frustrating, silly, or even tiresome because that’s what you were taught to do?
- “Yes” to every request, all the time?
- Full make-up every day?
- Hair done – blow dry, curling iron, hairspray, the works!
- Reading the paper – or a book – in its entirety (even if you’re not interested entirely)
- Driving a certain kind of car
- Living in a certain city
- Eating a particular food
- Working in a certain “right” job
- Attending certain religious institutions
- Owning. Or renting. Or leasing.
Do you get my drift? If you’re doing something that feels like an obligation; if you’re doing something that doesn’t bring you joy; if you’re just going through the motions because, well, it’s what you were taught, STOP.
I hereby give you permission to stop it. Stop it now!
The choice is entirely yours.
Can it be scary? Sure.
Will there be consequences? Maybe.
Could it be awesome? MOST DEFINITELY.
Make Some Room,
P.S. I’ll also never be able to give my Dad a salad-sized fork to use for eating dinner. If we were being casual and not setting the table, my dad still wanted the big dinner fork. To this day, I have trouble giving people a small fork to eat with. Isn’t it funny that habits and “rules” we retain from childhood?
P.P.S. I’ll also tell you the minute I realized I was an adult: I opened a bag of Nestle chocolate bits and ate some of them. Without making cookies. Seriously, in my house, we DID NOT EVER do that or we’d have to face the wrath of my mom. “If you open the bag and eat them, the next time I go to make cookies there won’t be enough!” And she was probably right, but still…the day I opened that bag and ate some, I thought, “Oh, yeah, I’ve arrived.”