I recently realized that people are a lot like gingerbread houses.
Except we’re a lot better.
I am a Merrill, and, therefore, I don’t like to be bad at things I attempt. Ever. However, I will be the first to tell you that I am horrible in the kitchen. I don’t know how to cook any dish ever, and I can’t make anything that people hope is edible. I can microwave things like a champ, but that’s about it. I don’t necessarily like this—it’s difficult for me to admit that there is something in this life that I can’t do well. It’s a shot to my pride, especially since I don’t have anyone else to make me food. But, to be truthful, I haven’t really tried to hone my kitchen abilities any. I don’t actually like cooking or baking (I think it is a patience and boredom thing), so I honestly don’t have a huge desire to try to get better. I accept that I’m not good at it, and I don’t pursue it.
It’s like biology—or really any science, for that matter. I never liked science in school, and I wasn’t good at it, so I didn’t try to get better. I simply memorized what I had to in order to make good grades, and then I never thought of any of it again. I didn’t pursue anything dealing with science because I hate it.
I know that I can’t be good at everything in life. I’m not so pompous to think that I’m superhuman and can do anything that ever was (although that would be pretty neat), but I do find myself with complete frustration when competition is on the line. I don’t know if it’s because I have played sports my entire life or just the way I was raised, but I really don’t like to lose. And I especially don’t like to lose when I’m really, really bad at something.
Like making gingerbread houses.
Our department at work had a gingerbread house contest last week, and I discovered that I lack talent in projects that involve food construction—and probably construction in any regard. I never owned any Legos, so I’m pretty sure that is where the root of the problem is. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I just started building without any real plan as to what my finished product should look like. I began putting together graham crackers, candy and the homemade icing concoction that served as glue until I thought I had created a masterpiece.
Except it wasn’t quite as special in the judges’ eyes as it was in mine. In fact, one judge said it looked like it was a house from a third-world country. Needless to say, I did not win. I didn’t get second. I didn’t come close to placing. But, for some reason, I wasn’t very disappointed. I made something—it was mine. It was unique. It was beautiful (to me, anyway). It was perfectly imperfect. It was special.
I think too often we forget that humans are a lot like gingerbread houses. We were all made completely differently, and we have our own unique features and characteristics that others don’t have.
And people judge us.
The thing is, though, there can’t be just one winner in life. We aren’t all competing against one another for some special prize or the pride of being better. So, why do we constantly do that? Why are there so many comparisons we make about ourselves to others? I do it more than I would like to admit—people have more money than I do, people have plus ones who aren’t their sisters at weddings (though my sister is seriously a kick-a$* wedding date), other women look prettier than I do, people are faster than I am. I could keep going, but I’m just going to stop right there. It starts to sound depressing. I don’t need to compare myself to anyone, and neither do you.
Because we are all precious gingerbread houses created by Someone not interested in those comparisons.
And the good thing is that we’re all a lot stronger than gingerbread houses—and a lot stronger than we sometimes think we are. We don’t have some pasty substance trying to hold us together, and we can’t be so quickly destructed or crumble to pieces. We all have sweetness to us, though some people choose to show that sweetness more often than others, and that sweetness doesn’t expire like candy does.
I understand that gingerbread house competitions need judges to decide fairly who made the best houses. That’s just how it goes. But I wish that in the real world we would look at all gingerbread houses as the perfectly unique creations they are. It would likely help people feel more comfortable with their special features.
And perhaps more people would realize just how valued they are, how loved they are and how much they matter—and start treating one another the same way.