I was watching the people on the platform from my seat in the train. I watched their every movement, and especially whether they were watching me, too. I almost ducked if they were. During that split second when they weren’t looking, I dug up the cheesy bread stick that was hidden in my bag, tore off a piece, and ate it as fast and secretly as I could. This almost sounds as if I’m a celebrity avoiding paparazzi. The truth, however, is not nearly as glamorous. It’s even a tad ridiculous. I realised that when I was looking around suspiciously, nibbling at my cheese stick. Add massive sunglasses covering almost my entire face and the image would’ve been complete.
Just ten minutes earlier, when I was about to get on the train, I simply couldn’t ignore it any longer… I could not only feel, but even hear my tummy churning, growling: “feed me!” With almost thirty minutes left before the train should leave, most people would immediately have gone to the bakery that was about twenty steps away. It’s not that simple for me; I was not supposed to have some fancy sandwich for lunch. But even I knew that, by the time I would get home, it would have been ten hours since my last meal at breakfast. Even I understand that’s ridiculous. So a few minutes later, I left the bakery with a cheese stick.
The cheese stick was securely concealed — no one could see. I would only uncover it when no one was watching. Shame was creeping up on me as I took the first bite. I was so embarrassed for eating this thing that I wanted to hide in a corner, as if I was being followed by a bunch of paparazzi, all too eager to photograph me. I could already see the headlines: “Busted: Laura Kaai Eats Cheese Stick!” with a picture of me gorging down that stick (because those pictures are always worse than reality).
Reality was that I was not “gorging down” that stick; I nibbled like I always do. Reality was that no one was paying attention to me. They couldn’t care less about me, or the cheese stick, if they had even noticed me at all. No one cared whether I stuffed myself with some unhealthy, cheesy bread stick. No one would judge me for that. Well, except me.
But why should I care? Why does a cheese stick embarrass me? It’s not like I had been walking around in my underwear because my dress got stuck in my pantyhose without me realising that. No. It was just a cheese stick, and I had been eating it. And it was a good cheese stick, too!
I’m all for healthy eating and living. I definitely am. It’s just crazy that I feel this peer pressure, and that I feel like I have to live up to something. It’s crazy that I feel like eating the occasional cheese stick, or whatever it is, is a bad thing that makes me a failure. But it’s clear to me now: I don’t have to hide like a paparazzi-avoiding celebrity any more. It’s okay to enjoy a cheesy bread stick every once in a while. It does not change me in any way, figuratively or literally. It’s just what it is: me, but eating a cheese stick.