I have a friend who’s going through a “first.” It’s their first time to experience something coming up – something BIG – and it’s interesting to see how everyone reacts to it. Everybody has a different opinion, a different viewpoint, a different attitude about it, or different pieces of advice to offer. Some care a great deal, some don’t really care at all but are too polite to say it, and some find humor in the whole situation and can only respond with sarcasm. (Anyone want to guess which category I fall into?)
So this friend of mine… They’re about to embark on a pretty incredible journey. It’s going to change their life. They’ll never be the same. We’ve all had a life-changing, breath-taking, oh-my-gosh-I-can’t-believe-this-is-about-to-happen moment… single, married, divorced, short, tall, fat, thin, black, white, working, unemployed, educated, experienced or inexperienced…. We’ve ALL been there. Your moments of this unbelievable magnitude may not be a “big deal” to me, and my life-changing moments may seem ridiculous to you, but in that moment I don’t care how you see it, because its life changing for me. Everyone has had one of these moments where you have no choice but to take the plunge and hope you can make it without drowning. So I’m going to simplify this scenario to put it into a perspective that EVERYONE can understand.
My friend… is about to… eat their first apple.
That sounds dumb right?
Well, for good reason. Who hasn’t had an apple before? Nobody I know… but maybe I don’t know what I don’t know. Some people may be allergic. Some people may have grown up with family that had an allergy to apples so therefore they were never within reach. Some people may have grown up in Alaska where certain types of fresh fruit are hard to attain so they never tried. There could be lots of reasons why someone has never had an apple.
So this friend… They’ve never had an apple before. Most of their friends and family have already had an apple at some point in their lives, and some have been teasing my friend about her carefree apple-less life up until this point. The few friends who haven’t had an apple yet have made it a point to stay away from apples. They’re good with peaches and pears and the occasional watermelon. Apples aren’t something they’re ready for.
My friend didn’t buy a ripe apple… It’s still a little greenish/yellow. Not ready for eating yet. So all my friend can do at the moment is know that they’ve got an apple in their possession and try to prepare for the day it can be eaten. During this excruciatingly long wait, all they can think about it this apple. What’s it going to look like? How will it taste? How will they feel about it once “The Big Day” comes?... Will they want to eat it, or will they be ready? Will they be happy to eat it, or will they be sad that their apple-less life is over? What if it doesn’t taste good, or what if it doesn’t live up to their expectations? What if it smells sweet but at first bite they discover it’s actually a bitter apple? What if they drop it or it gets bruised or it has a worm?! What if it gets dirty?! … What if it doesn’t live up to their expectations?!!! WHAT IF they’re not preparing for it correctly?!
Quite quickly, my friend’s brain became obsessed over this apple. And their possession of the apple. And their preparation of the apple-eating day. Rightly so, of course… All of those who have already experienced the apple-anxiety can remember when we, too, could think of nothing but the apple. We read about it, dreamt about it, stocked up on supplies to get ready for the post-apple life… But then it happened, and we moved on. It’s hard to tell my friend that they are not the first person to EVER eat an apple in the history of the world, and that life DOES go on after “The Big Day” of apple-eating. It’s understandable that my friend is almost constantly overanalyzing their apple-anxiety, and asking all their apple-experienced friends for tips and advice and suggestions and recommendations… But it’s hard to tell my friend that while good advice is always helpful, sometimes you just have to have your own experience. Don’t let your expectations be set by what someone else experienced… You’re only setting yourself up for failure or disappointment, when this experience SHOULD NOT include failure. Everyone’s first experience with an apple should be wonderful as defined by their own expectations, not the expectations others tell you that you should have.
So in sharing with others their apple-anxiety/excitement/anticipation, it has drummed up a multitude of different reactions: some are excited for my friend, and leave it at that. Some are excited WITH my friend and want to be involved in every aspect. Some are all too ready to pass on their apple-knowledge and experiences, regardless of whether or not their advice was sought out or even welcome. And some… like myself, I regrettably admit… have heard enough about it.
I’ve had apples. Yes, they are new and exciting each time… but I’ve got my own apples to worry about. I’m more likely to bow out of the conversation every time it turns to apples nowadays, because frankly sometimes I feel like I’m already up to my ears in applesauce. Apple pies. Apple butter. Apple-scented candles. My life is consumed with apples. Sometimes I’d like to have a conversation about ANYTHING but apples.
But I must remind myself daily, sometimes constantly, sometimes BY THE MINUTE, that at the time in my life when apples were new and scary and exciting, I would’ve been devastated if someone told me “Quit talking about your apples already, I don’t want to hear it!” So I’m trying my absolute best to keep in mind that other’s experiences, no matter if they’re ahead of or behind me in the game of life, are JUST as important to them as my past, current, and future experiences are/will be to me. I’ve also come to the conclusion that, since I’m not one who angers or aggravates super easily, there’s probably another underlying issue at work here… and that would be jealousy. I’m jealous of the excitement in my friend’s life at the moment—if I could go back in time, there were lots of things I’d do differently to better soak up the moment, every little moment, pre-apple.
Sometimes more aggravating than the apple conversation is the party who dominates the apple conversation with their advice. “You must buy your apples HERE and you must cook them LIKE THIS and you must eat them A CERTAIN WAY… because that’s how I did it”… That’s more often than not the time when I have to step away because I cannot stomach someone even insinuating that because we don’t juggle our apples the same way, that I’m automatically not doing it right.
So… now that I’m sure you’re curious as to what apples we’re comparing here:
I’m not going to tell you.
What I WILL tell you … is that we ALL fit this scenario. We’ve all been through some apples. And we’ve all been on both sides of the situation: my friend’s side with all the butterflies-in-your-stomach anticipation, and the excitement and nervousness during the planning, and even the moment right before “the end” when you freak out and want to scream “NO! I’m not ready!!”… to the wonderfulness that consumes you when whatever you’re anticipating FINALLY happens and its more phenomenal than you could ever imagine… and also on my side where your time has come and gone, and life keeps chugging along, onto the next step.
Need some examples? How about… Graduating. Getting a job. Buying a new car. Buying a house. Dating. Getting Engaged. Getting married. Having a baby. Adopting a baby. Travelling. Opening a business. Buying a business. Overcoming an addiction.
I’ve had friends experience all of these things recently. So I’ll let you all come to your own conclusions as to which one I’m referencing.
Here’s a hint…. Almost all of them. J
And you know what, friends? I’m so proud of all of you. I’m proud of what you’re doing, of what you’ve done, of what you’re aspiring to do or be or become… I’m proud to call all of you friends, for standing by me when I’ve been through my apples in life. I’m proud of what I’ve become with your support, and I’m proud of where I’m going in life with all of your help.
And I plan to be a proud bystander in your lives as you all juggle your apples. And I promise to lend a hand whenever I can, without complaint/envy/exacerbation. Because when it comes to apples, we’re all in it together.
Now who wants some pie?