Our radio editor-in-chief reflects on her least favourite question.
When we introduce ourselves, when we do some primary school task or later when we learn a new language, there is always one question that keeps coming up: “What’s your favourite blank?”
I don’t have a favourite. Ironically, the only answer I could give you when you ask for my favourite is that my least favourite question is what is your favourite. I know. It gets confusing. You see, usually I can narrow myself down to a few favourites for certain things but getting the favourite – the ‘one and only’ – is my mission impossible.
When I was younger, I used to memorise which colour was my favourite. I felt this pressure coming down from somewhere – I needed to have one. For some reason I was also bothered by the inconsistency of my answers so I would try to come up with one and stick to it. Once I thought it was blue; I bought a pair of really bright blue glasses, which then of course I started to hate after a few months. Unfortunately, my mom did not understand my awkward teen embarrassment necessitating me to get a new pair, so they stuck with me (do not ask me to send you a picture with them on). It took me quite some time to give up on finding my favourite colour.
Let me explain where all of this is coming from. It is not that I am completely indecisive (even though I am close) or that I don’t like anything. I just haven’t found the answers to two questions: What is a ‘favourite’? And why do we need to have one?
What is a favourite?
Many people close to me have heard me go on a long rant after a question such as this one. Ask me any favourite-type question and I will deconstruct it for you. For example:
When you ask “what is your favourite food?”, are you asking me for the type of food I would eat every day for the rest of my life? Favourite food when I am sad or happy? My guilty pleasure or what I am always excited to snack on? Winter or summer food? For breakfast or dinner? Sweet or sour? Food is such a broad category which means every answer to a favourite has a different meaning to every person.
If a favourite can have such different interpretations, then does it have any meaning at all?
Once, my yearbook quote was “your favourite and least favourite Lithuanian”. It is easy to get a true favourite (with a least favourite) when there is only one of something to choose from. Two birds one stone, am I right?
Why do we need to have a favourite?
I hope at this point of the text you have lost at least one of your favourites. Maybe that song you swore was your favourite is actually your “Summer-2018-the-time-at-the-beach-you-spent-with-your-dog” favourite. That being said, I don’t want to say it’s not okay to have favourites. I just want to say that it is okay not to have one.
I love when people know their answer straight away, when their eyes light up as they get their answer ready: “My favourite number is seven!” Honestly though, why is seven such a popular favourite number? Their certainty is comforting. Their self-awareness is one to admire. However, I feel like it is often expected for us to have favourites. Faced with a-favourite-type question I start talking about why I dislike favourites but more often than not I just end up killing the conversation.
If I give you an answer when you ask for my favourite colour, that one colour will suddenly become very different to all the colours. It will become the colour. I won’t be even sure of what kind of the it will be. It almost feels unfair to all the other beautiful colours. I have no colour to embody that subjective feeling of favourite.
Maybe part of me is afraid that by choosing my favourite, I will be prevented from fully enjoying the alternatives. Once I settle that my favourite season is summer, will blooming springs ever look as beautiful as they did? In the end, what your favourite means does not matter as long as you stay open-minded. Keep the ability to change your favourites. Or if you change them too often like me, just don’t pick one.
Let’s call it – my theory of favourites (or my favourite theory?).