I'm a big fan of the writer whose voice you hear in this video, Helen Rosner. Helen writes about wide-ranging topics with sensitivity, awareness, and insight. I think she's one of the best food writers out there. In the wake of Robin Williams' suicide she wrote about depression's slack black hole in the middle of her life. I found myself recognizing little details in a way that don't usually hit me in other personal essays on the topic.
Helen's point, and it's a good one, also happens to be a classic GAD trigger. When people ask for restaurant recommendations, she says, they're usually trying to be seen in a certain way for a certain need. Nothing's simple about that simple question. We're motivated by our own desires to control how we're perceived. So when Helen's podcast co-host, Greg Morabito, says, in what sounded to me like an offhanded, matter-of-fact voice, "Our tastes define us," I wonder if he has idea what kind of reverb that statement has for an anxious person.
GAD complicates everything, but for me, this thicket is one of the thorniest. The idea that others are judging me based on external components like what I wear or where I choose to eat throws me into an avoidance spiral. For those of you who've known me in the professional context, you might find that interesting or even contradictory. But the truth is that I always want to be liked, and I definitely want to get "it" right—whatever it might be. If a person is defined by their tastes, they will necessarily alienate others who are defined by differing or contradictory tastes. GAD wants me to commit without committing.
Thinking about it a bit more, the fact that I worked on a food site for so long actually makes a lot of sense. I'm both drawn to choosing the "right" thing while trying to avoid any judgements from the outside world. I just want it both ways. The shield of brand-taste helps take the pressure off the individual. (Apple's made millions off this very idea.) Ultimately, though, you're stuck with yourself. If you've spent so much time avoiding and pleasing, how do you figure out what your true tastes are? And without that, do you lack definition?
Oh GAD, what a tangled web you weave.