dice ’em up

Every now and then, when I’m watching a movie, I see something that catches me off-guard and makes me want to slide between the cushions of the couch. I see myself. I see a character doing or saying exactly what I would do or say. The specifics of the situation may differ, but the idea is the same.

Take, for instance, Julie & Julia, a charming and funny movie about two women learning about life and food in two very different times. Julia Child (played to perfection by Meryl Streep) is a wife in Paris, trying to break into the man’s world that is Cordon Bleu cooking school. After a particularly difficult session of dicing onions, she determines never to be embarrassed again. So she goes home and practices. Her husband finds her like this:

(© 2009 Columbia Pictures)

He says, “Jules, you’re being a little over-competitive don’t you think?”

“Well you should have seen the way those men looked at me!” she blubbers into the onions. “Like I was some frivolous housewife just looking for a way to kill time.”

She had been misjudged. She had been underestimated. She found herself unprepared. And she didn’t like it. (And all this was after the stuffy French lady told her she wouldn’t like the class and wouldn’t be able to keep up.) So Julia went home and made sure she would be ready for the next time.

I can understand the feeling. I’ve been misjudged before. People look at me and think they know who I am. They make assumptions. Sometimes it’s useful, especially in some sort of business situation because when someone underestimates me, I have the upper-hand. They think I’m young and inexperienced. They think I’m sweet, with no business savvy. And the moment they make that assumption, they have given me a huge advantage. Because I’m a hundred times more intelligent than they think. And although I might be sweet, I’m also seriously tough.

But sometimes, I falter. Sometimes I encounter my own onion-dicing scenario that leaves me feeling clumsy and unprepared. And just like Julia, I go home and I practice and practice until I don’t look like a “frivolous housewife,” until I can come back and blow them all away. (And I also have a husband who knows how to stay out of the way until I have drilled myself into near-perfection.)

I demand a lot of myself. And while that pushes me to accomplish wonderful things, it also sometimes requires a giant mountain of diced onions.

What about you? What’s your onion-dicing challenge?

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