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Be the main dish, not someone’s ‘mashed potatoes’

Road trips are one of my favorite things to do. I took my first legitimate road trip with my best friend Adina when we went to NYC our sophomore year. Her Plymouth car, with a tape deck and Zhane music playing, took us to the city that doesn’t sleep.

There was one song that we played on repeat called “Kindness For Granted.” This song would haunt me especially when I started performing in the “Vagina Monologues” here at Ohio State.

Once, when I was performing and writing my own piece to bring to the stage, my gal pal Salina had a horrible breakup. She, a Gentile, was dating a Jewish male friend of mine. Everything was “great” until they went on a ski trip together. He was in charge of a class of kids’ pre-bar mitzvah and he hid her from the kids only wanting to meet up with her when it was … bedtime.

After the trip he got more distant and then stopped calling and texting. Then the author of the book, “He’s Just Not That Into You” came to campus and we went to hear his lecture.

She went up to the microphone to ask about why this man had stopped contacting her. Well, you know what he said. Salina started crying in front a room full of people and it was not the words of friends but those from a stranger, now wealthy from a line that we basically say all the time, that made her understand.

Soon after that, my crew came up with our own slogan which was prescriptive rather than reactionary. We started telling everyone we knew, “you are no one’s mashed potatoes.”  This means that if someone is treating you like a side dish and not the main entrée, you have to peace out. Jettisoning poor relationships or sifting people out of your life who are damaging requires a certain fortitude.

First, you have to know your worth. How can anyone value you if you do not know the value of your own swag? Your security cannot come through being validated by a significant other. I was at a conference this past Thursday and a professor said that family had more of an influence than peers. He is a human development and family science person so, I suppose that works for him and pays the bills.

I am a social scientist so I definitely come at this notion from a different paradigm. I know that there are a myriad of socialization agents at play from religion and media to politics and neighborhoods. Higher education is an institution that can be the time of life when you can develop such fortitude with making wise decisions.

Equip yourself with the ability to critically think so that when someone feels they can feed you a pop tart, you know just how to react. It is both steak and eggs with hash browns or you can take your pop tart and walk. In order to have that ability to do just that, you have to make sure you surround yourself with strong friends with similar core values. You have to have your own dream team.

Michael Jordan was only at his best when the best was around him to enhance his performance. Only agree to mashed potatoes if you are getting the main dish treatment you deserve. 

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