Thursday, May 22, 2014
that people are like spice
I made a batch of biscuits recently. The name was something like 'apple spice biscuits'. Their ingredients included apple puree, ground cloves, cinnamon.... and ginger! As soon as I saw the last ingredient I predicted what would happen. After adding it to the batter, the result might as well have been gingerbread. We couldn't tell the difference. Once it was mixed in, we could no longer single out the flavour of cloves, cinnamon or apple, but we could definitely taste the ginger.
It was the last thing I added. Before its addition, I could taste and smell those other ingredients. They are just as nice as ginger, if not even nicer. I'm a cinnamon fan and also love the smell and taste of cloves. They are really yummy. But as I held the heaped spoon of ginger over the bowl ready to sprinkle, I thought, "That's it guys, get ready to be overpowered."
It's funny how people are pretty much the same as spices and condiments. We all know the ginger (and garlic) people. They are those wonderful, gregarious talkers who we rely on to fill awkward silences at group gatherings. The extroverts, the sanguines and cholerics. The sort who take over the running of meetings. "If John is in charge, it doesn't matter who else is on the committee. He's got such a strong personality, we know how it's going to end. It'd be wise to try to get him on side."
But just as ginger isn't 'better' than the other spices, neither is one type of person better than another. Although we all know this in our heads, it took me a while to get it into my heart. "Only sunny-natured, gregarious people need apply" the job advertisements cried out. My whole life used to feel like a bit of a reproach. On the way home from school, I listened to countless lectures from my mother, who used to try to coach me on how I should behave. "You need to speak up more. People think you're unfriendly when you stay too quiet. If you change the way you behave, they won't pick on you anymore."
The people who wrote the apple spice biscuit recipe must have thought the cinnamon and cloves added something to the recipe and complimented the ginger in some way. The might have given the overall result some edge, so that it's more than just a stodgy biscuit. That's what people of more low-key personalities can do for our ginger friends. It's been great, over recent years, to see the rise of the introvert movement. If you are subtle cinnamon, you can't be ginger, and nor should you want to be. The phlegmatic and melancholic folk, the quiet contemplative, deeply thoughtful ones have their own place in the world.
I only wish it had started while I was still in my teens. It seemed to begin with the publication of the book, "The Introvert Advantage" by Marti Olsen Laney in 2002, which I have on my shelf. Sometimes it takes something new like that for a movement to snowball. It's made me chuckle to see extroverts begin to take notice and complain that they are now being typecast as shallow, rowdy party-animals. I don't feel too sorry for them though, because they'll always have their cheer squads.
Whatever our personality, I think we need to take time to remember to take time to appreciate what we are, because when we don't, it's all too easy to slip into feeling inadequate, for whatever reason.