shedding externalities

a lot of what i've been working on over the past couple of years has to do with simplifying, getting to the heart of things, and letting go of what's unnecessary.  

in terms of the pop-up, it's been about experimenting with what it means to cook really high-quality food and share it with the folks who want it.  do we have to do it in a restaurant?  does there have to be a "fancy, white tablecloth" sort of narrative around the whole affair?  how many people have to come between the cooks and the customers?  this has been a project completely bent on stripping down the food chain to its simplest possible form, and it's been really interesting and rewarding.

in terms of my classes, it's about encouraging folks to get into the kitchen, get their hands dirty, and let go of whatever preconceived notions they have about what it means to cook a certain way, or at a certain level.  when we abandon the idea that we need a bunch of fancy tools, expensive ingredients, formal training or whatever external elements we've been conditioned to believe are necessary for a good meal, we can really tune in to the brilliance of the experience of cooking, of connecting with the food, understanding where it comes from, and sharing it with people we care about.  just doing that will make your meal more delicious and satisfying without even picking up a knife.

in the tartine dinners, it's about letting go of what ideas we might have about what it feels like to cook or dine in a restaurant.  we challenge people's comfort levels by smushing them cheek to jowl at communal tables, force them to interact by making the food family-style, and ambush them with generosity to do our best to make them feel loved.  because it's not set up to be a business, we have the luxury of taking really, really good care of the customers without being concerned with how much money we're going to get out of them.  a lot of the artifice and theatricality of restaurant dining is left behind, and instead replaced with a spirited sense of authenticity.  it's an experiment--one that's not exactly financially viable, but incredibly rewarding nonetheless.

whether consciously or not, it's been relatively simple for me to bring my work into focus in this way, but somehow in the secret corners of my heart and mind that determine who i really am, and how i really feel and think, i haven't been able to replicate this lens.  it's such a subtle thing that i haven't noticed it until just now, perhaps the most deeply reflective period of my life.  

let me break things down: yesterday i had a moment of clarity wherein i realized that i have always burdened myself with worrying about what others will think.  that worry has controlled and directed pretty much every action and decision throughout my life.  coming to understand this so clearly while simultaneously examining the central themes of my work has been pretty disconcerting.

the formula:

    aversive personality (buddhist psychology)
enneagram type 3 (the achiever)
enfp (mbti)
  samin: incredible potential to achieve success, but also crippled by an obsession with what others think  

the past few months have been some of the most challenging i've ever faced.  though the successes i've had and opportunities i've been given have been wonderful, they've made me ever so acutely aware of how many more eyes are on me.  it's weird, because i don't really shy away from attention (that's putting it mildly) and i am pretty darned comfortable as a public figure.  but the part of my psyche (or ego, if you will) that's so consumed with worrying about what others think of me and my every action has really been triggered into overdrive lately, and it's been a cause of great anxiety.  coming to realize this on a deep level is the first step toward loosening its shackles on my heart and mind.

i spent the afternoon with a sweet friend yesterday; she has the gift of making me feel totally safe around her, and i deeply appreciate that.  i told her of the many ways lately in which i've been paralyzed by these worries, like to the point that i'll write an entire blog post but then not post it because i'm worried about what one certain person might think or say.  i don't want to do anything that anyone could perceive as hurtful, narcissistic, egotistical, or mean, and in consuming myself with dreaming up all of the possible scenarios of what people might think, i lose the joy of the experience itself.

i'm committing myself to relaxing a bit around these fears, to trying to take things a little more lightly, and to shedding the externalities in my every day life.  i want to let go of the inner/outer narrative that binds me in my thoughts and actions and instead return to a place of living from my heart, with the purity of intention and experience that i value so much in my work.   


  1. Samin,

    I've been having an issue that I think is similar, but also a bit different. From what I think is my deepest desire to serve my students to my highest ability, I've found myself comparing myself to others, incessantly worrying what others think of my teaching and questioning my worth as a teacher in general.

    Often times the fear of what others think, or of not being good enough paralyzes my growth as a teacher and encourages me to make decisions that are not in alignment with who I am.

    Today I began thinking about how I could take my natural reflectiveness and curiosity and manifest it into something that works for me, instead of into fear. I guess I'm asking, not how do I get rid of my inner monologue, which seems to be a part of me, but how do I let it help me blossom more healthily. How do I move from love instead of fear?

    Again, not sure if its quite the same, but while reading your blog, I connected to your experience of the somewhat stressful nature of reflection and your desire to live from your heart. :)Thanks! Ali

  2. you're so human, and wonderful. thanks for sharing your sheart.

  3. Samin, a beautiful post!

    I've come to very similar realizations over the past few years. I also tend to be crippled by external judgment. I've navigated my way (not always smoothly) through a career transition over the past few years. In so doing, I've been learning to ignore the judgemental voices and to really listen to myself.

    It's still a work in progress, but strangely enough, my blog and my writing has actually helped me with my perfectionist tendencies. I've learned that I can post an imperfectly written article, and the world doesn't end. And I've learned that my clients are often perfectly happy with a piece that I thought was just a first draft.

    Lose those shackles and keep on going. You are doing such amazing work! I'm in awe.

  4. Samin,

    It's incredibly brave of you to put out something true and revealing.

    Your descriptions about worrying what others think made me think you've been spending time in my head. It's great to know others deal with this too.

    The realization that's slowly helping me to get over it is that others don't think about you nearly as much as you think about how they are thinking about you (and imagining them dissecting every foible or shortcoming).

  5. thanks, guys. your compassionate words mean a lot to me.

  6. What a blessing, Samin! Thank you for this gorgeous post. I've been calling these (for me) mere mortal moments. We get such strength when we share them...we realize we're not alone. You are not alone. And I am sitting 4,000 miles away, grateful for: YOU. Thank you for this. much love!! xo

  7. thanks so much for your comment on my blog today! i will definitely let you know if i am in sf!

  8. samin, your understanding of yourself is gorgeous and awesome - i can relate! and just say that i've found these moment of revelation hugely powerful, transformative if you want that - amazing in any case. thank you for showing this part of you - i'm in awe, as always!

  9. I had a powerful experience this weekend, one that taught me a very valuable lesson. The lesson is that it’s none of my business what others think of me. My focus MUST remain on what God thinks of me and whether I am remaining true to my mission and the vision for my life.

    Last Friday, a man posted three very rude comments on my blog "Capturing Happiness" …comments that attacked me directly. Luckily, I have a very good sense of humor and was able to laugh his comments off. But it got me to thinking – how often to I worry about what others think about me, and how energy have I wasted trying to control others?