I’ve made some major lifestyle changes since moving here, which you already know plenty about. One of the biggest changes I have made since moving here is never ordering food from restaurants in Zürich, choosing instead to prepare and pack all of my meals. Only about once a month will I buy a pre-made sandwich at the school café when I can’t manage to scrape together any leftovers out of the fridge.
The honest reason for why I never go out to eat is because I can’t afford it. Switzerland is expensive, and in order to financially support myself here I need to be a little thrifty. My cooking skills have luckily developed to the point where I can actually enjoy what I cook for myself, which makes the situation a little more bearable. Although it requires some planning and thought, I have a good system going and am unbothered by a few hours of cooking every week, that is, until someone at lunch feels the need to comment:
“Oh you’ve packed your lunch again? Don’t like the cafeteria food? Yeah, I should pack my lunch too, but I’m too lazy/don’t have the time/am bad at cooking.”
I have been getting these comments every single week from multiple people, and each time it makes me more and more frustrated. Sometimes, I feel they are passing judgement on me. Even though I have a student job that helps me pay the rent and tuition, some people will comment on how I should be able to afford at least the cafeteria lunch because I get paid here. Not only is this straight-up rude, they completely ignore that perhaps my part-time job doesn’t cover all of my expenses and that I am trying to be a fiscally responsible independent student in one of the world’s most expensive cities.
Most people, however, are less brash with their comments. In these situations, I feel less like they are judging me and think they are more in search of a justification to their own behaviors. I get the sense that they wouldn’t be opposed to packing their own lunch, but they put up a self-imposed barrier to doing so by thinking they are too bad at cooking or planning to make it work. Or perhaps, some of them don’t like the idea at all and are just saying it for the sake of the conversation? I’m not quite sure what the true reasons are, but either way I want these comments to stop. If I’m content in my ways and they are with theirs, then why do they need to make the same comments every single lunch?
What I have identified so far to be the root of my frustration is that most of these people seem to be making excuses for themselves and bringing me into it, in hopes that I might justify their decisions. Do they want me to tell them that I’m on a tight budget and don’t want to pay over 6 CHF for one meal when my average total daily price of food is 8 CHF? Do they want me to admit that, yeah, I do have to think ahead and spend a few hours of my week preparing meals? Do they need to believe there must be something about my situation that makes it more necessary for me to do this, and that’s why I have to do it and not them? My message for these people is to simply stop making excuses for yourself and stop searching for validation of your excuses from me. I’m not judging you for not bringing lunch everyday, but also you are all capable of putting in the effort and making a change if you actually care to do so.
To address the other crowd of conversationalists, do you actually wish you prepared more of your own food or are you just carelessly saying this to me? If you’re happy with buying lunch everyday, that’s great and valid, but stop saying one thing to me and thinking another. It’s not wrong to have a different preference or opinion, but stop pretending you do in some effort to relate to me or conceal this preference. In 2019, let’s all try to have more genuine conversations by matching our statements with our true feelings and intentions. Here’s a quick idea of how I imagine we should shift these conversations:
Current: “Oh, I could never do X activity because I’m just lazy, not disciplined enough, etc.”
Improved: “Oh, that’s cool that you enjoy that activity. To be honest, it’s not something I do often or enjoy doing because I prefer spending my time doing Y or Z instead.
Anyway, all I want to do in the coming weeks is to eat my nice, cheap, home-cooked meals in peace without any comments. Maybe I’m a little too salty, and maybe I’m reading into these comments too much. Any thoughts Molly?