Is a hot dog a sandwich?
I’m assuming you all want my opinion on this so I’ll get it out of the way now. I think a hot dog is a sandwich. It very closely resembles a submarine roll, but with just one ingredient. The amount of ingredients shouldn’t matter though (grilled cheese), right? Also, it’s got bread on the two sides, which I think is an important qualifying factor. Some would argue the structure is a bit off, but I feel like if I took the bun and cut it in half lengthwise, then but the hot dog in between, it would certainly be a sandwich. That transition of qualifiers seems loony to me. To be totally honest, I called Alex, another HUT author, for some help writing this article and we stayed up till 3 AM debating this and trying to clarify the lines which make something identify as a sandwich.
The Need to Know
Aha! I tricked you! Indeed, a hot dog is not a sandwich. It’s got too many aspects which are unlike the majority of sandwiches, and it has a close resemblance to the lovely taco. This was a mere demonstration of a false perspective on something that doesn’t matter. After hours of debate, research, and new perspectives, Alex and I came to a conclusion: It’s stupid and irrelevant. What a huge waste of time! Qualification of the hot dog is a matter of opinion, completely subject to one’s past experiences and developed perspectives. Anyways, I think we as a society are past the circular intrigue of these sort of questions (Is water wet? Is a thumb a finger? Does a straw have one or two holes?). Seriously, though, these matter-of-fact declarations on what things are can be so subjective and vary too often to be relevant. Also, they can be plain wrong.
Following our Instincts
As human beings, we have a natural desire to label things, seeking definitive understanding as a means to ensure survival. This is because we want to be able to quickly know what to keep a safe distance from and what is okay to engage with. That’s why we fear the unknown, and find comfort in the familiar. The hot dog argument is a harmless example but when we start to qualify ourselves as some thing or the other, it can become a problem. When the natural instinct to declare what we are acts internally, we raise uncertainties about who we are. We would keep a distance, like anything else we don’t understand, but we can’t. So in turn, we embrace who we are and act accordingly, not as a genuine effort at self acceptance but instead as self defence… against ourselves.
Personal descriptions, names, and paradigms develop quietly over time. They can be morphed by who your friends are, what you do with your time, and what you’re interested in. Pretty basic stuff. The thing about these views, while they do provide some comfort via understanding how we see ourselves, is that they are completely limiting to who we are. These personal perspectives are what subconsciously tell you to do or not to do certain things. I remember countless examples through the past years of my life where I’d encounter a new opportunity and count myself out of it because it wasn’t a “Pranay” thing to do. After having walked away from so many chances, I feel like I missed out on tons of ways I could’ve grown as a person just because I feared the discomfort associated with change.
In a less tangible manner, I feel there’s still an ongoing trend in my life where I judge how I feel and think based on a previously established standard of what’s acceptable. Here’s an example: Let’s say I tell myself “My name is Pranay and I’m a hard worker.” Then I proceed to watch a youtube video about how to make a perfect BLT instead of studying. Afterwards, I think, “What the heck was I doing? Why am I not being myself right now? Am I just not a hard worker?” Bro, chill out! It was legit just one youtube video! But there I am feeling bad about myself for either not being a hard worker or feeling confused because I’m acting in ways I can’t understand. Quite frankly, though, that’s just not how life works. Times change, people change, and we can’t always be the picture perfect versions of ourselves that we want. It just isn’t possible. Thus, having a static view of how we should be in light of external altercations seems pretty irrational.
I reckon it’s possible that you’re thinking that accepting yourself for not always being perfect is a defeatist attitude, that we need to push ourselves to be as close to that as possible. I get it – being hard on yourself feels like a really good motivator, but it can really be counterproductive. There’s times for it, where you want to progress as efficiently as possible, but think of it this way. Say you get a bad grade on a test. Do your teachers tell you that you’re stupid? Do your friends (not jokingly) tell you that it’s a sign of things to come? Do those you love say that they’ll always be disappointed in you (I sure hope not)? There’s a reason. It’s an inefficient motivator. There are certainly other ways to go about pushing yourself, but this certainly isn’t one.
There can be times where these labels can help you when applied correctly. Completely static attributes such as your race, background, or other identifying factors can be a great place to look back at and see who you are. Furthermore, they can keep you in a rational state of mind in times when you’re faced with a moral question. But for the most part, trying to call yourself a sandwich isn’t the best idea.
What you can see
Instead of putting a label on who you are and how you should act, be a hot dog. Don’t try and classify yourself as a sandwich or not a sandwich, but just be the series of traits you appreciate about yourself in any present moment. Look at yourself in the most positive light possible, and take each instance of personal greatness as an opportunity to add to who you are in the present moment. You’ll certainly find patterns in the things that make you feel good, and you can use those not as a way to describe yourself but rather as a way to outline what makes you proud to be who you are. For example, though I love sandwiches, I don’t see myself as an avid sandwich eater. Rather I’ll capitalize on any opportunity I get to eat one, without regarding it as a part of who I am. The adage You are what you eat, no longer stands.