I broke up with Starbucks last year (who can afford it?), but every once in awhile, we get back together. The barista taking orders today had on this glorious apron that said, "Coffee Master" underneath the Starbucks logo. I asked him what he had to do to become a coffee master. Apparently, it involves a nomination and a year of training.
The barista making the coffee, a kind older woman, (she offered me extra shots of espresso--why not?) had nothing written beneath her Starbucks logo. She told me that nobody has nominated her yet. I cupped my hands in a whisper and told her I had a sharpie in my bag. We could write "Coffee Master" on her apron and nobody would know the difference. She laughed out loud.
As I watched her concoct my drink, I wondered about Starbucks. Why is Starbucks so unapologetic about what it's good at? Why can they, without any hesitation, ask employees to boldly display a claim like "coffee master?" The concept resonated with me because I just finished teaching two classes on memoir writing. I asked students to write down ideas about some experience they've had that allows them to offer wisdom or insight for another person. So many students said, "I'm so boring. I have nothing to say to anyone."
Not flair. Not flair at all.
Don't most of us feel this way? But what if I had to wear an apron to display what I was best at, what I knew I could contribute, what I'm sure could help others? What would it say? And why is self-esteem so troubling for us? Finding what we're good at seems so hard, and yet, I practically wrote an essay this morning at kindergarten registration when the form asked me to tell them what my daughter's "special talents" are. Could I have written with the same enthusiasm about myself? We so easily find the good in others.
Starbucks has never had a self-esteem issue. Maybe they could market personalized aprons for the rest of us.
People are coffee masters, grill masters, yoga masters, master craftsman. Couldn't I think of just one thing I could put on an apron that signified my contribution? Maybe it would be "master of the dishes" or "master of bedtime snacks." Maybe I've mastered suffering or mastered survival. Whatever it is, I want to be unapologetic about it.
Living with flair means I think about what my life experiences qualify me for, and I can celebrate that like the Starbucks barista who knows she can make a great cup of coffee.