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I don’t have favorites

| Thursday, April 15, 2021

So, there’s this question that has been on my mind for a little while now. Why do people have favorites?

These past couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting new people, and naturally, we have been trying to get to know each other better. Our conversations over dinner or on group chats have often involved favorites: “What is your favorite movie?” “What is your favorite sport?” “What is your favorite color?” The list goes on and on. 

I don’t know about you, but I honestly hate these questions. The reason is I never truly know how I am supposed to answer these questions. I am always trying to think of something off the top of my head… not necessarily to impress them, but whatever seems like the coolest thing at the time. Okay. Maybe to impress them a little bit. But even then, the concept of favorites doesn’t sit well with me. Today my favorite breakfast food could be a nicely toasted bagel with some good cream cheese spread. Ask me again in a month, and I would want to answer with something completely different — whatever I have been obsessed with recently. The key here is that I hate having to fit the things I like in neat and clearly delimited boxes. I want to be able to like and enjoy a series of things without choosing a top contender from the mix. 

This idea has been discussed on the forum by HighExistence (an online platform and forum to ‘wonder and question’). One response I found very interesting was the one by the user @brainofmorbius:

“I think little things like this build a pattern of character. There have been studies of people with brain damage where their biggest challenge was trying to make little decisions. They wake up and don’t know what to put on. They don’t know what to eat for breakfast… They don’t know what chair to sit in… There’s a key portion of our minds where these little facts of life are stored. And it turns out that most of the decisions we make in life are based on being emotionally drawn to one thing over another. We just don’t realize we are doing this.”

So would my inability to pick favorites hint at an incomplete character? Maybe just non-conforming? Am I unconsciously making myself reject habit or routine? Or maybe I do have favorites that I have refused to explore further or acknowledge? 

Another user, @lawnboy, also had interesting input. 

“While you yourself, or anyone else for that matter, are essentially and ultimately unknowable, the human condition drives us all to try and place small, concise, comfortable labels on everyone and everything. Look out the window. Your eyes receive an unfathomable amount of information from the outside world. But your mind has a preset label for most things based on past experience. It says ‘tree’, ‘grass’, ‘car’ and that’s it, you move on without much notice. If you stopped to actually SEE each and everything in every moment of every day you would sit in utter awe and confusion at the beauty and complexity, drooling on yourself all day and you would get nothing done. It’s an evolutionary tactic that is essential to survival in the wild. But now that we’ve distanced ourselves somewhat from the wild I think its time we took a minute and just drooled on ourselves for a while. Especially in the instance of attempting to know another human being.”

These two responses are actually pushing me to explore whether it is possible for me to actually call something a favorite of mine without feeling like I have to conform. This line of reasoning has actually helped me see that I do fear conformity, but at the same time it seems like my issue is also rooted in a need for acceptance. I don’t want to be boring; I don’t want to be just like anyone else. But it seems that along with that I don’t want others to see me as boring. I don’t want others to look at me and think I’m just like everyone else. So maybe I am just unconsciously afraid to pick favorites because of how people might perceive me when they are getting to know me and inevitably ask the questions I dread? 

This column is a little different than the ones I have written in the past. Yes, I am still writing about something quite personal that has been on my mind recently. But normally, my thoughts would also be interlaced with well researched arguments and evidence. By the end of my columns, I normally have an answer for you and essentially for myself. But here I don’t think I do. I have been trying to answer the questions I posed as I reviewed and edited the column. The phrase *insert conclusion here* has been staring at me for the past week. And yet, this column seems to be an unfinished work. But, that’s alright, because this unfinished work is a reflection of my unfinished growth. I still have a lot to question, plenty to understand and tons of blank spaces to fill. Thank you for your patience.

Krista Lourdes Akiki is currently part of the Mendoza College of Business. Coming from Beirut, Lebanon, she always enjoys trying out new things and is an avid travel lover. She hopes to take her readers on her journey as she discovers new lifestyles and navigates new cities. She can be reached at [email protected] or via Twitter @akikikrista

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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