It must be exhausting for cauliflower.
There was a time when cauliflower could just be… cauliflower.
A steamed vegetable on a platter, the side dish no one ever really wanted. Maybe occasionally pureed into a soup… that few chose to lead off their meal.
These days, cauliflower wears many hats… er, florets.
It is a go-to substitute for a multitude of items.
Want a variation on rice?
Pulverize some cauliflower!
A replacement for potatoes?
Mash up some cauliflower!
How about some gluten-free pizza crust or vegan wings?
Cauliflower. Cauliflower. Cauliflower!
When did cauliflower have to be everything to everyone?
Broccoli is just broccoli. Red peppers are just red peppers.
Sure, zucchini can serve as a watery replacement for pasta. But in doing so it gets its own cute name: Zoodles.
Cauliflower gets no fun nickname despite being the hardest-working cruciferous out there.
When did we start DEMANDING so much of this vegetable?
Why is simply being cauliflower, the limp side vegetable of the day, not enough?
When did it have to pick up the slack for rice and potatoes and wings and… EVERYTHING?
So how about you? Are you the Office Cauliflower?
(If this is your first time with me here, know that this isn’t the first time I’ve used an inanimate object, like an errant kidney bean in a can of chickpeas, as a subject for my story)...
Are you that person at work who does whatever is needed?
Do you do your job well and then all sorts of… other stuff?
Are you the plus-one person when the project needs one?
Are you the mother hen, always taking care of everyone?
Are you the lead volunteer, the note-taker, the party planner, and the cake server? (Hell hath no fury like the senior woman on the team tasked with serving and cleaning up the cake!)
When someone needs a hand, a lift, or a tampon… are you always the one to offer?
What made you think you need to be everything to everyone?
If you’re the Go-To Girl at the Office, just what are they going to you for?
Those opportunities that you’ve been hoping for, that you really want? Or those extra tasks and committees and note-taking that no one else wants?
Are you truly earning your value or are you stuck on the shelf, on sale for $3.99, and hoping a buyer will see your value?
What does doing more work get you other than… more work?
It’s like someone is holding out a carrot – a far more popular vegetable – and dangling it just out of reach. You think if you do one more thing, take on this one more task, you might be able to finally grasp it.
But the carrot is moved a bit further out of your reach. Often times it gets tossed to someone else. To that person just content to be a tomato or a turnip or whatever it is they are – that they do best – without feeling like they need to morph to meet other people’s expectations.
You can pound yourself into submission just as a cauliflower must to become pizza crust.
You can slather yourself with spicy sauce or chop yourself into so many little bits that you resemble rice.
Or you can just be the cauliflower. Add a little parmesan and roast at 400 degrees and you’re pretty darn tasty just as you are.
You don’t need to be everything to everyone all of the time. Tell the boss tending this garden that the other vegetables can be called upon to step up too.
You, my friend, are a glorious cauliflower. You’re a flower full of antioxidants and phytonutrients!
That alone is enough.
Valerie Gordon is a long-time storyteller whose feature work has appeared on HBO, CBS News, and ESPN. As the founder of career and communications firm The Storytelling Strategist, she uses the power of story to help clients with the skills and tools necessary to advance their careers on their own terms. Read her other humor articles here.