The Sandwich Theory

This is a term borrowed from calculus, although here it is used in an  entirely different manner.  It’s just a way to live your life.  It’s more of a way of blending in.  I’ll have to convey this in a picture or something later, but here’s the gist of it:

Okay, in life there are people who are the best at certain things and there are people that are the worst.  Then there are the people who fall somewhere in between.  This is the basic sandwich.  The people who are the best are the top slice of bread, the people who are the worst are the bottom slice of bread.  Then you have the people in the middle or the “meat” of the sandwich.  This group usually makes up the most people and they are at all varying degrees of competency in this field.  Now, some of them are near the top piece of bread, trying to become one of the best, while others are sinking down towards the bottom part of the bread, or moving towards the worst people.  There are advantages and disadvantages to being in each position, however.

If you’re one of the best, there’s a lot of pressure on you.  People want to know, “What’s your secret?”  People are constanly asking you for advice on how to improve themselves, as well as how to become like you.  Also, you have to maintain that position and guard it like it’s gold.  Because if you let your guard down for even a second, someone could and very well should take over your high position.  But you’ll come to realize that guarding that position is futile because it will take away all of your other time to just relax.  You’re constantly warding off other overachievers who want your spot.  It’s not a very good place to be in, and one the other get there, they’ll face the same connundrum.

Now let’s talk about the bottom.  The bottom is also a very dismal place to be.  People will look at you like, “You’re worthless.”  So you have to defend the fact that you’re not worthless and that you are getting better.  You have to show momentum in a positive direction or else you will be constantly criticized.  People will say you’re not trying hard enough and you need to get your act together.  But some people prefer this to defending a position that will be eagerly taken over because of one misstep.  There is a lot of room for mistakes at the bottom because you really can’t get much worse and you can always improve.  When you’re at the top, improvement is very slow because there’s not much more to improve upon.

Now let’s get to the meat of the sandwich.  This is the part where there is some animosity, but there’s also more relaxation.  If you’re in the middle, people will often forget about you, relieving you of having to defend your position.  You can relax a bit, but watch out for the bottom feeders trying to take over your position.  THey’ll be the only ones who seek out your advice, but you don’t have to worry much about them because they have a long way to go.  But in the middle it’s your decision.  Do you want to stay where you are or try to improve yourself?  Do you want to slip back a tad?  So what, nobody’s really going to notice much and you can always build yourself back up before anyone notices.  I don’t know.  It’s just a very abstract theory I’ve been working on. 

But nobody really wants mediocrity.  The middle meat in society are all the people who have the one house with the white picket fence and a distorted feeling of security.  Those are the people who just get by with what they have and live a simple yet average life.  They can always look down on the people who are on the bottom to feel good about themselves after wondering why they aren’t on the top.  It’s a great place to be because you’re secure.  But security is only half the battle.

If you find yourself at the bottom or in the middle, why can’t you do better?  Most people do not want responsibility.  Moving up in this metaphorical sandwich increases the amount of responsibility one has.  Like if you were to move from a sales representitive to a manager of the store, that would increase your responsibility tenfold.  Which is why many people do not want to increase their position in life.  They feel comfortable.  And they’ll do anything to protect that feeling of comfort.  But it’s almost as bad as being on top because you’re always wondering why you’re only halfway where you want to be and have to come up with reasons to defend you staying at your current position.  You wonder if you take a chance and leave it, when you come back all that will be left are positions lower than what you have now.

I guess you could call this type of thinking a mid-life crisis.  Should you quit your job to do more meaningful work, even if it means a cut in pay?  Should you chase your dream or succumb to the fact you’re more worried about how to pay the bills than living your life on purpose?  I say we weren’t meant to be domesticated in one area for our entire life. Take that chance of moving upward.  Even if you end up lower than you were, you’ll be glad you took that chance.  Believe me.

I think the main problem is that people are so attached to the fear of failure and fear of success.  Well, if you can conquer those two fears then you’ll not even care about where you are on this sandwich anymore because you’ll have experienced all aspects of it.  And it’s more about enjoying the journey, not the destination.  You spend far more time on the journey so it only makes sense that you should enjoy it more.  If you’re going to spend twenty years of your life trying to reach this pie-in-the-sky ideal life, then you might as well enjoy getting there.  Because you will find once you reach this idealism, there’s an even better one off in the distance and you may need to sacrifice all you’ve worked for to get to that new utopia.  So it’s an evergoing struggle, if that’s the way you see it.  You can also see it as a wonderful journey, no matter what the outcome and you’ll tend to enjoy it more. 

Race you to the top of the sandwich. 1-2-3-Go!


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