Chipotle. My brother. America. Wawa. ChapStick Moisturizer. CNU.
What do all of these things have in common?
- If someone asks where we should go to lunch and a Chipotle is within a five mile radius? Chipotle. But the lines are so long! But they never give the same portion twice! But you’ve had it for your last five meals straight! Don’t care. Going.
- My brother is the kind of guy who texts me random selfies with my sister-in-law just to brighten my day and forces me to miss out on my precious sleep so that he can listen to me cry we can catch up over an extra drink. He could publicly dis Mindy Kaling and I’d still stand by his side. (Though given he’s a talent agent for comedians, I know he never would.)
- America might be a little weird these days, what with school teachers in Nebraska no longer being allowed to call kids “boys and girls” because apparently acknowledging genders is now insulting (??), but I still tear up when “I’m Proud to be an American” plays during every 4th of July bar crawl.
- The predicament: I have about 14 miles worth of gas left in my car, and a sign tells me there’s an Exxon in 2 miles and a Wawa in 14.5 miles. The decision: Wawa.
- Not lying, I’ve gone to three different drugstores in a one mile stretch to find ChapStick Moisturizer (the blue tube) before buying Blistex, Carmex, or some other second-rate creation that doesn’t make my lips as kissable.
- Our football stadium (yes, we have a team) may be smaller than the visitor’s bleachers at my high school, but when Christopher Newport University is mentioned on obscure lists of best emerging colleges in the nation, you better believe I swell up! I’ll be C-N-U around, fellow Captains. (ha.ha. …)
Loyalty is hard to come by these days. From relationships to sports teams, people jump ship as soon as something easier or more personally beneficial rolls around. A perfect example is the effect of fantasy football, where “loyal” fans find themselves rooting for someone on the opposing team since that person is on their fantasy team. Where’s the reverence? Where’s the devotion?
The “me” culture of the 21st century is responsible for the demise of a laundry list of once-popular characteristics, to include persistence, humility, and empathy. Loyalty is only one among the many endangered qualities in a jungle of stifling selfishness. Though not yet extinct, loyalty is more of a pleasant surprise than a collective expectation. Examples of unyielding faithfulness are generally applauded for their rarity, such as the couple celebrating their 81st wedding anniversary (<– click) or the employee who started in the mailroom and ended up as a principal in the same company (<– click). Though citing extreme examples, the general concept of someone sticking by another person or thing’s side- even when times get rough- is more heartwarming than ever before, because with rarity comes value and admiration. Like gold. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, beanie babies.Part of the problem is a fear of commitment. Choosing one thing means letting go of the idea of something “better” coming along. It means viewing an obligation as a respectable responsibility, not a dreaded requirement. If we are loyal to a person or thing over time, ups and downs are inevitable. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but not a single thing on this earth will ever be consistently phenomenal- except faith, but even that fluctuates due to our state of humanness. When we make the decision to be loyal to something, that decision is almost always made during an “up.” The challenge is to be aware during that initial decision that a “down” will eventually follow, often simultaneously with an “up” replacement. For example, someday your relationship will be in a rut, and at the same time you’ll meet someone new who seems incredible. Loyalty is sticking to your initial commitment, which is on its “down,” even when a tantalizing new “up” is dangling in front of your face. The same can go for your company or favorite brand.
This is not to say that every choice in life needs to be definite. Circumstances absolutely exist where the best move is to close a harmful chapter, but in the spirit of self-development, perhaps we should all choose one or two more things in life to pledge our loyalty. Even if it’s something as silly as Velveeta over Kraft, making the choice to stay loyal (going all the way to a different grocery store if the one you’re at doesn’t carry liquid gold Velveeta) will be a good reminder to not always give way to selfish convenience or personal gain.