I’m taking too long to decide. My eyes are darting around the table trying to compare everyone else’s order. I really want the homemade salted caramel pie but the rest of the table wants the white chocolate cheesecake.

There’s nothing about white chocolate that I enjoy.

The waiter walks over and in a moment of panic, I quickly blurt out I’ll have what she’s having!

A few moments later, the waiter returns with a tray of white. No richly flavored, light brown, salt-flecked pie in sight.

There’s no pie in sight because I didn’t order the pie. I ordered the cheesecake, like everyone else. Rookie mistake.

As the cheesecake is placed in front of me and while everyone is diving in with their mmmms and aaahhhs, I reluctantly take a bite and think to myself this would be so much better if the white chocolate was salted caramel and if the cheesecake was pie.

I’m going to venture to say that in one shape or form, we’ve all experienced an “I’ll have what she’s having” moment. Whether it was when you were grabbing lunch with your salad-obsessed friend and you ordered a bowl of measly, leafy greens when you knew that all you really wanted was the featured sandwich that had smoked turkey with homemade walnut pesto, fried green tomatoes, topped with goat cheese and panini-pressed between two pieces of freshly made ciabatta bread. And you love crispy ciabatta bread.

Or, maybe your moment was when you decided you wouldn’t go to your dream school because that’s not where your parents “could see you going.”

We look to the left and look to the right only to realize that we’re alone in wanting the item we want or wishing to do whatever it is that we really wish we were doing.

We feel ashamed, maybe embarrassed or less than. To alleviate this discomfort, we imitate, compare, copy and sacrifice.

We take whatever the other person is “having” and try to bully it into being our own. We neglect the truth that most (if not all) of life is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Life is a situation that is messy, wild, nonsensical, exciting and way too short to spend time subjecting ourselves to decisions that are not our own when we often have the ability to do otherwise.

The saying that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” has always bothered me, especially when placed next to the saying “comparison is the thief of joy.” I believe that comparison leads to imitation which often leads to self-disappointment and suppression of our intrinsic wants and desires. When we push aside what’s best for us and replace it with what someone else has decided is best for their individual desires, we are compromising a piece of ourselves. This isn’t a small piece either. We are compromising a piece of individuality that has been earned through years of cultivating character and experiencing moments that lead us to understand what is and isn’t best for us.

When the rest of my table ordered the white chocolate cheesecake, they ordered it because they knew it would make them happy and they loved what that cheesecake had to offer. I ordered the white chocolate cheesecake because I didn’t like the idea of being the only one to order something else. Heaven forbid that I draw attention to myself for rewarding my stomach with what I knew it really wanted. Isn’t simply recognizing and accepting what you truly want (despite the influence of others) in any situation an achievement on its own? I think so.

This “cheesecake situation” is merely a vehicle for a much larger conversation. Instead of deciding to order whatever it is that our stomach may want, we go against our gut and blurt out I’ll have what she’s having to avoid an uncomfortable situation.

Ultimately, we experience more discomfort after we make a decision to ignore our internal desires than we do when we make a decision to listen to them. By ignoring these desires, we end up unsatisfied and uncomfortable. When we choose to listen, although we may still heed some degree of discomfort, we are satisfied and pleased that we listened to our gut and gave it what it wanted.

Next time you find yourself saying I’ll have what he/she is having, just remember that you can (and should) have your “pie” and eat it too.