So I’m sitting here talking to the baristas at my go-to coffee shop. I know them, they know me. I do a lot of my work here. I would consider us work friends.
I’m doing this thing where I asked him what his favorite shot of espresso that they serve is. He told me it’s this special roast from Ethiopia and it’s amazing. I typically am a fan of Ethiopian coffees, so I decided to try out this special espresso.
He gives it to me and asks me what I think (clearly with that expectant look in his eye). I honestly can’t taste anything all that spectacular about this particular shot of espresso that would differentiate it from most other espressos. Maybe its due to the fact that I don’t drink very much espresso straight, so my taste is not as refined as it perhaps once was. Either way, it tastes like a solid espresso, but nothing to go crazy about.
So he asks me what I think, with a visage of anticipation, and I tell him its really good.
He jumps on this and starts riffing about the intricate flavors of berry and floral notes that are immediate on the front-end yet linger on the palate in a way that really is something special.
I agree. Floral berry stuff. Yeah, man. So good.
He’s not buying it. He’s a professional coffee junkie. He knows a barista-pleaser when he sees one. He steps away, a moment later coming back to see if I’ve come to my senses.
“So, what do you think?”
And here it is. The moment of reckoning.
“It’s not the best espresso that I’ve had here,” I tell him. “But I still like it!” I add quickly. I’m not a monster, after all.
Approval, Honesty, & Trust
So what the hell was all of that? Why did I feel the need to tell my barista friend that this miniature mug of caffeine juice was so great when that wasn’t really what I felt?
And am I alone in this experience? Am I the only person who just automatically tells people what they want to hear? Am I the only person who has a mortal fear of disappointing others?
It seems that every day I am reminded in a new, fresh way just how much I have a compulsive need to gain the approval of others. So much of my life has been dictated by whether or not what I do will earn me a pat on the back. Will this or that action result in the accolades of others? Will making this decision garner appreciation from family, friends, strangers, society, stray raccoons?
In my Rolodex of addictions and compulsions, hands down my drug of choice has been the Triple-A: the Approval, Appreciation, & Applause of others.
Which leads me to tell my barista friend that this cup of espresso is better than I actually think it is.
So what’s a boy to do (other than therapy)?
Honesty & trust.
I have to practice being rigorously honest in all things. And it is a practice. Honesty is a muscle that I have to build up. And it’s a counter-intuitive muscle. Being honest about the big stuff is easy, but it’s the little, seemingly insignificant things (like opinions on hot beverages) that really put the honesty muscle to the test.
I also have to practice trust. I have to start trusting that I already have every bit of approval, appreciation, and applause that I need. I’ve got loads of it from family and friends, and most importantly I have infinite, complete approval from the God who created me. I don’t have to earn or prove a damn thing. I’m completely complete right here, right now. And just like honesty, trusting all of this to be true is a practice, a muscle that has to be exercised and developed.
So, if you’re like me, the next time your friendly barista asks you what you think of the espresso, tell the truth and trust that in doing so you are being cheered, applauded, and appreciated by the One who created you to just not be a much of an espresso person.