Moments to Savor: a waffle-y honest moment

A drawing of a pile of waffles on a plate. The waffles are covered in various toppings, including blueberries, melon squares, raspberries, and greek yoghurt.
(Joanne Oh • The Student Life)

The other day, I made myself a waffle at Frary Dining Hall. I plopped a dollop of Greek yogurt in the center and then scooped up a handful of blueberries, noting that while some stuck to the yogurt, others cascaded down the sides and gracefully landed inside the rectangular waffle pockets. I continued adding to my breakfast creation, gathering plump raspberries and honeydew cubes and scattering some granola on top. Once I was satisfied, I carefully brought it to a table.

Sitting down, I remember feeling overwhelmed. On top of all the midterm papers I had to write and presentations I had to prepare for, I simply had a lot on my mind. I remember staring mindlessly at my breakfast and then realizing that the loaded waffle in front of me mirrored what I imagined my mind to look like at that moment.

Quite frankly, the waffle was messy. Sure, some blueberries were perfectly nestled in the crevices, but honeydew cubes knocked others off of the waffle completely, granola scattered unevenly over the plate, some yogurt that had somehow migrated outward to the waffle’s edges, with a couple lone raspberries on the verge of tipping over. 

Usually, I am a skilled compartmentalizer: I can manage my academic stress, club-related busyness and personal ups and downs quite well without letting one bleed into another. If I had to depict my typical mind as a waffle, it would be one where the blueberries sit neatly in the crevices, where the granola is scattered uniformly throughout and no yogurt drips down the sides.  

But on this day, I could not help but feel my personal worries seep into my academic and extracurricular-related stress, just like the yogurt inching to the sides and enveloping all the fruit in its way. Before these worries became any more overwhelming, like the honeydew chunks that ruthlessly knocked the blueberries off the waffle, a friend unexpectedly came up to me. 

“How are you doing?” they asked. For them, it was a simple inquiry. For me, it was the check-in  — the invitation for honesty — that I needed most at that moment. 

I shared with my friend all that was on my mind and I was so grateful to them for listening. When I left Frary that morning, I felt mentally lighter, my brain no longer trying to section off every thought and ultimately failing to do so.

Throughout the day, I spent a good amount of time reflecting. That morning, my friend reminded me that I don’t always need to compartmentalize my feelings so well and that letting my emotions spill over does not mean that I’ve lost control. In fact, they emphasized, recognizing these emotions and allowing them to come to the surface may actually be healthier in the long run, allowing me to have greater mental stability down the road. 

Thinking back to this day, I’m thankful for my friend’s wise words. I’m also particularly struck at how something as silly as a Frary waffle can lead me to reflect on myself and confront the jumbled thoughts in my mind, as messy and out of control as they may seem. I’ve recognized that even when you can’t or don’t want to put into words how you feel, what’s on your plate — the visuals, the textures, the aromas — can give you the gentle nudge you need to do so. I know that if I had not made a waffle that day, this TSL piece would have probably been about something entirely different, and I would have continued compartmentalizing my every feeling, putting on a façade that every neatly-packaged aspect of my life was splendid.

I love how food can be a quiet impetus for reflection, which then your friends can further encourage and deepen through a simple “how are you doing?” With this in mind, I hope that, even in this busy midterms season, you have a chance to grab a meal and sit with all the thoughts running through your mind. It’s okay if they spill over each other; it’s okay if they’re messy -— no, acknowledging them does not mean you are losing control. Moreover, as you sit with these thoughts, perhaps take a look at your plate, too. Just as your food may nourish your body, it may inspire some nourishing reflection for your mind, too. 

Emily Kim PO ’25 is from Irvine, CA. She is currently taking a break from coffee and is seeking caffeinated alternatives to get her through her three hour late-afternoon seminar classes.

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