When I was little I thought I was doing a great job using them—I would hit them on the table, twirl them in my hair, even attempt to pick things up with them. But, eating? Now that’s a chopstick skill I never mastered, and honestly I thought I would never have to.
Boy was I wrong.
I recently traveled to China as part of my business class for school. Sure, I was nervous about the language barrier, and the difference in culture, but do you what took the most adjusting? Chopsticks.
Somewhere between classes, papers, and sleeping, my classmates found time to learn how to use chopsticks. I was confused. Whenever I ordered Chinese food before my trip, I used a fork. When did everyone become so cultured? So talented? Did they take a class?
I blame the mass popularity of sushi.
Everywhere we went in china—breakfast, lunch and dinner, there were no forks in sight. I wasn’t about to be “that girl” and ask for easier utensils. So there I was, halfway around the world, pushing my food around attempting to hold chopsticks correctly. My classmates ate with such ease, as if chopsticks were second nature. I wish I hadn’t missed the memo.
I was embarrassed, and hungry. I couldn’t get the hang of it. I tried so hard to figure out the trick. Yes, I even tried putting a hair tie around the ends, still no luck.
In the end, I had to just pretend no one was looking and try and try again. As the days passed I learned to scoop, stab, and occasionally pinch small pieces of food. By the end of the trip I had built up enough confidence and had practiced so much, I could almost pick up rice. It was a small accomplishment, but an accomplishment nonetheless. I never used a fork. I never went hungry, well too hungry and I had fun trying something new.
Whether you’re in China, or at home, or even at school, there will always be things that are new to us. There will be times when basic things seem hard, and you get frustrated. It’s life. It’s college. It’s part of growing up.
Being in China and using chopsticks taught me to be flexible. I learned that it’s okay to not know how to do something right away, and that sometimes part of the fun is improving.
Whenever you struggle with a new area—a class, a hobby, or a skill you’re trying out, learn to laugh at yourself, and keep trying. I was probably the worst chopstick user in all of China, but I didn’t let it get to me. I kept trying. It was an adjustment, but a fun one.
And plus, now I have an excuse to break out chopsticks when I get back to school. My roommates won’t know what hit them when I impress them with my skills.
Now that I have the right utensils, I guess it’s time to tackle sushi…