19 Feb

"I'm a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls."

Lennart, I. (2024, February). Funny Girl . Buffalo ; New York .

THE MEAT (The Main Idea)

This metaphor packs a little bit of imagery and a whole lot of emotion. Our quote brings about a sentiment that can stir up endless thoughts and beliefs about oneself. Admittedly, I wasn't familiar with Funny Girl (the movie or the play), so sitting in the theatre with 624 other people and hearing that line for the first time, my immediate reaction was, "I get her." 

There are often times I feel like the odd one out, the one that is unlike all the others - the bagel on the plate full of onion rolls. 

In Funny Girl, the character, Fannie Brice becomes the mirror reflecting the common experience some may feel; individuality among uniformity. It's a feeling that breaks through the theater curtain and into our workplaces, social gatherings, or even the sanctuary of our homes. The realization that you are different. This awareness comes with a flood of thoughts that grow into feelings; possibly empathy, understanding, and maybe even acknowledgment of your uniqueness. Our quote today initiates a conversation about identity. 

So let's dig a little deeper because you know our conversation will not unfold the way you expect. 

THE CHEESE (Added Depth) 

While Isobel Lennart may not have intended us to scrutinize the culinary differences, let's take a closer look at the bagel and roll to extract deep meaning. 

Google defines a bagel as a "doughnut-shaped yeast-leavened roll characterized by a crisp, shiny crust and a dense interior." Notably, it is hand-shaped into a ring, leaving a distinctive hole in the middle. The bagel undergoes a unique cooking and baking process. First, the bagel is briefly boiled to set its shape, giving it a shiny coating, and activating the inner layers of dough before baking. 

On the other hand, the onion roll, as described by Wikipedia, is a creation of Jewish origin, resembling a bun. Its soft, slightly sweet dough likened to challah contains dried onions throughout, giving it a signature flavor. 

From this culinary exploration, we can extract a few valuable real-life lessons: 


Boiling bread may seem like an unusual step, but being different demands an uncommon journey. Skipping this process might render us just another roll. Our individuality, shaped by our unique experiences, gives us form and distinctiveness. 


A bagel with its density and unique texture, holds together differently than a flaky roll. It exhibits resilience. Throw a bagel against the wall and it's likely to bounce back. Life's challenges, similarly, become sources of strength for those who embrace their differences. If we fight being different, then we just end up as a poor version of a roll. 


The intentional hole in the bagel, far from a void, is a purposeful space. Embracing the unique space within us, our individuality becomes a defining aspect of our identity. What if we allowed that space to be the very thing we are defined by? Just like we intentionally choose bagels from bread for their uniqueness, embracing our individuality can be a conscious and celebrated choice. 

In essence, this metaphor encourages us to appreciate the beauty and strength in our differences, reminding us that the intentional spaces and unique processes within us contribute to a richer, more vibrant, and purposeful life. 

THE OLIVES (A Surprising Element) 

Much like the diverse flavors on a charcuterie board, life offers an array of choices. 

Bagels, with their unique appeal, may not be everyone's first choice. Some may lean towards the buttery, flaky comfort of a croissant or the sweet layering of an onion roll. And guess what, that is perfectly valid. I've had to remind myself a time or two, "I'm not everyone's cup of tea."  

The diversity in preferences and strengths is what puts the strength in CliftonStrengths. When individuals discover and embrace their unique talents, it's akin to recognizing whether you're a bagel or an onion roll. Understanding your strengths and talents is a powerful journey of self-discovery. While you might be a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls, what's essential is not whether everyone loves bagels, but that you know, own, and celebrate your big, bad, bagel-self. 

CliftonStrengths teaches us that our strengths, much like bagels, are distinctive and valuable. The key is knowing who you are, embracing your strengths, and being perfectly accepting of your uniqueness. You won't be everyone's first choice. But, if you are going to be successful, you must recognize the things that make you you. 

Be at peace with the understanding that not everyone will be drawn to your specific strengths- and this is perfectly okay. As a matter of fact, it's good. They are not your people. Some people can't handle all your dense bagel-y goodness. Imagine someone being forced to eat a bagel they don't enjoy. Can you see their twisted face as they chew through an unenjoyable breakfast? You don't want someone who doesn't prefer you to endure you. You want them to enjoy everything you bring to the table. 

So don't try to change. Don't force it. Accept that you're not always going to be someone's first choice. The true magic lies in being unapologetically you, contributing your flavor while appreciating the diversity that others bring to the table as well. And always remember, bagels are pretty popular, they made it in NY, and they make a lot of money. 

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