I am handed menus to choose from everyday. I am not just speaking of restaurant menus. I make choices off of social menus, political menus, fitness menus, activity menus, friendship menus, behavior menus, relationship menus…but what if what I want isn’t on the menu at all? Can I still order what I want. Can I ask for something off the menu? I say YES!
I have just sat down for breakfast at “Rosie’s” Cafe in Tahoe City. I know what I want before I look at the menu, Oatmeal with fruit. I don’t expect Oatmeal with fruit to be on the menu, but I figure I can combine a bowl of fruit and bowl of oatmeal. to get what I want. On the menu I see a bowl of Oatmeal is $3.99 and a bowl of fruit is $4.99. $9 for a bowl of oatmeal with some fruit on it?!!!
While reading the menu I also notice the “Oatmeal Swedish Pancakes”. Their tasty description notes that they are topped with “applesauce, sour cream and lingonberries.” Ummm. That sounds good. I’m guessing that if the toppings taste good on Oatmeal pancakes, they will also taste good on Oatmeal…but of course…that combo is not on the menu and will take some creative ordering to get.
When the waiter comes and asks if I know what I want I say confidently, “Yes and I am hoping you will be able to make it for me.” I hear the groans of my 17-year-old son and can feel his eyes rolling into the back of his head, “Here she goes again!”
I tell the waiter politely that I’d like a bowl of oatmeal with the toppings from the Oatmeal Pancakes. He blinks his eyes and looks at me quizzically. I explain. “I’d like to have oatmeal topped with applesauce, sour cream and lingonberries, just like the Oatmeal Pancakes. Will you do that for me?” He stares at me some more, mumbles something which has an affirmative but questioning tone to it, but then writes my request down. I thank him and tell him how happy this will make me. He smiles.
5 minutes later my oatmeal comes with 3 little bowls of my toppings. I pay $3.99 for the oatmeal, and $1.50 for the toppings. $ 5.5o total. What a deal. I get exactly what I want and I don’t get ripped off!
After eating this morning I had an epiphany. Life is full of menu’s. Social norms, activity choices, reigning opinions, presiding options. Some of them are easier to spot… there are Political Party Menus, Religion Menus, Measures of Success menus, Education menus, Relationship menus, etc…
Guess what…the restaurant isn’t the only place I usually don’t find what I want on the menu I’m handed! I’m lucky enough to usually have clarity about what I want. What I am learning is that not only is it ok to order off the menu but it actually works pretty damn well!
Guess what happens when I order what I want! #1 The people around me whom I communicate with actually know what I want. It’s crazy how many times I would not ask for what I wanted because I it wasn’t being offered and I was embarrassed, ashamed, didn’t think I deserved it, whatever…and then I would get mad at someone for not knowing me and not knowing what I really want. Guess what…people can’t read you mind! I swear!
#2 The people who care for me learn and eventually are learning to accept who I really am! It’s amazingly freeing to be completely open and honest about my needs, desires and my choices.
#3 Other people take notice and realize that maybe the menu they have been handed doesn’t actually contain all the workable options either. They start asking for stuff off the menu. The world and the menu’s start to change!
#4 I am learning to accept and learn rather than judge. Giving myself permission to order off the menu has meant ceasing to judge myself and beginning to know and accept myself. This has led to accepting others. It’s awesome…the I stopped judging myself, I stopped judging others and started learning from them!
#5 I have gained confidence. The more I ask for what I want, regardless of whether it’s on the menu or not, the more clarity I have for what I want, and the more confidence I get sharing who I am with others.
#5 I GET WHAT I WANT! ok, so not all the time, but at least I know I have a chance. When I didn’t ask for what I wanted, I rarely got anything close to what I wanted!
The funny thing is, I have found, whether people get my reasoning or not, they are usually happy to give me what I have asked for, are grateful that I have been honest with them and grateful they can give something truly meaningful to me.
Letting others know what you want empowers them in their relationship with you! What I am learning is that empowered humans are loving, generous, and want to create a community which supports its members.