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Say No to Red Sprinkles
The art of not settling
“Amorcito, they don’t have the red one, but look they have this one with red sprinkles. Or look, chocolate, my favorite.”
I don’t usually find myself in this position, persuading my three year old son to choose a sugary treat. But we’ve been talking about this ‘Mami-Nico cupcake date’ for five long days now and he’s been obsessing, announcing various times a day, at the most random moments, how excited he is to have his RED cupcake. Red velvet, that is. Red is and has always been his favorite color. Everything he chooses is red: sweater, marker, scissors, cup, shoes, you name it. He even wants to live in a red house, which I’ve vetoed but have compromised on a red door someday.
We’re finally here at Sinners & Saints (I know, inspired name for a bakery) and they’re out of red velvet. Well, damn. I continue my calm persuasion routine, showing him the other choices while my insides twist, on alert, ready for a melt-down. His eyes get watery. I up my game, in an effort to keep this scene from going nuclear. “I understand you’re upset…,” I continue and elaborate, hoping my exaggerated empathy is met with emotional maturity in this toddler. Possible? Yes. Likely? Doubt it.
At this point, there are two potential outcomes: i) he budges and goes for red sprinkles or ii) tantrum-bonanza. Today I’d put my money on the latter. He walks over to the display, gets on his tippy-toes, and stares. I hold my breath.
“Ok”, he says, “red sprinkles.”
But as soon as I order it, he surprises me.
“Actually no, I don’t want it.”
“Which one do you want then?” I ask.
I’m stunned, but ok. I had bought a coffee so we head to the patio, me trying to distract him with some ants roaming the floor, when we’re interrupted by the saleslady: “We have more red velvet cupcakes!”
Nico’s face; he’s ELATED. And I am elated for him.
This kid was so clear on what he wanted and today he chose not to settle, even though let’s face it, sugar is sugar. But he didn’t want any cupcake, he wanted a red one. And not a partially red one, he wanted a fully red, inside and out one. Had he accepted the one I tried to convince him on, he’d be sitting here with a half smile instead of this bright-eyed grin.
My poetry teacher always says (yells), “We don’t do mediocre shit!”. Mediocre being anything that’s not exactly what our heart desires.
Because it’s easy to say ‘no’ to the things that are not even close to what we want, just like Nico didn’t even consider the boring brown chocolate. Red sprinkles, however, are the danger zone. Those things that could make us somewhat happy. They’re close. When we come across them, we don’t light up entirely but we may still stop to contemplate them, analyzing pros & cons, oftentimes telling ourselves it could work. They invoke the feeling of “yea, sure?!”
Like when you’ve been house-hunting and have visited more than twenty already. The twenty-first one comes along and it checks off all the boxes but a small one - closet space is limited. You’re so tired of looking. Or you’re interviewing for a new job and have received a sizable offer from a team that inspires you, but it’s in the same city and you were hoping to move. Should you live here another couple of years, save up, and then have the bigger adventure? What if you’re dating a wonderful person, who’s kind, supportive, and adores you. Marriage sounds like the obvious next step and you know you could have a comforting white-picket-fence life together. But deep down there is a yearning for something else.
These ‘Wannabe Yeses’ are the true tests. Do we say yes and live, perhaps, contently? Or do we remind ourselves “We don’t do mediocre shit!”, say No, and go after what really ignites our soul? Those things that, when they appear, give us a full body chill, an undeniable HELL YES firing up in our gut. Because, like our stomach, our life is not limitless; if we fill it with one cupcake, one house, one job, one partner, it doesn’t leave space for another.
I want to be like Nico. I want to be strong enough to listen to myself, to know my heart’s wants so well that even when things come my way that look & smell like the thing but are not the thing, I can say “No Thanks” and leave room for the real dream to unfold.
So here’s to not settling. Say no to red sprinkles. If it’s not a Hell Yes, then it’s a plain flat No.
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