When I was a teenager I started to bake. Not a whole lot and not anything too fancy. Mostly cookies; chocolate chip and peanut butter. My mom was awesome at baking pies and cooking as well. She made the best sweet potatoe pie I have ever had to date. Now this baking that I used to do came from my mom and a friend that she had. My mom’s friend had a daughter that was around the same age as me. Every now and again the mother and daughter would come over for a visit but the mother came over more by herself just to hang out with my mom. Every time my mom’s friend was going to come over my mom would ask me to make cookies. Peanut butter to be exact because my mom loved peanut butter cookies. I thought she was just asking me to make them because she loved them but I later found out that wasn’t all there was to it.
One day my mom and her friend were in the kitchen talking. I had already baked the cookies and was coming into the kitchen for something when I heard my mom tell her friend that I made the cookies from scratch. It took all I had not to burst out laughing because I most certainly did not (although the cookies were good)! I was not overly crazy about baking or cooking but I knew the basics and was fine helping my mom in the kitchen if need be. I most certainly was not a professional in the baking or cooking area. I later learned from my mom after her friend left that there was some motherly competition between the two moms and their two girls (we obvioulsy were oblivious to this). They were often bragging about us to each other and it kind of became a fun pass time between them.
When my mom became ill with cancer, it’s what she taught me that allowed me to cook when she was too sick to do so. But because at such a young age I kind of had to grow up to take on more responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, taking care of my little brother etc., I didn’t think that I would ever enjoy baking or cooking. Even when I got married (the first time) I would cook things and sometimes my husband would look at me, after he had eaten the entire meal, (bless his heart) and say “Yeah don’t make that one again.” Usually this happened with meals that I was trying for the first time, ya know, trying to step out of my comfort zone. So I would trash the recipe and continue on to cooking what I knew. It wasn’t that I couldn’t cook it was more so whatever it was that I was attempting to cook I wasn’t sure or confident that it would turn out well. I wasn’t certain that I knew what I was doing (and sometimes I didn’t) or confident that the meal would turn out well. I wasn’t certain that I could do this new recipe justice. I would try to make it my own and that would sometiumes backfire which made me lack even more confidence.
This lack of confidence in my cooking ability even translated over to group meals with friends. Some of my oldest friends will tell you when we were having a big meal together to avoid having to bring a dish and it not quite meet the standard I had set for myself, I brought the same things each time we gathered: corn on the cobb, hawaiian sweet rolls, drinks and I would make a cake or two. Sometimes I even threw in paper products LOL. That’s all they were getting folks. These friends were really great cooks and I was intimidated by that so I stuck to what was easiest and couldn’t really be criticized. But over the years after divorcing, being a single parent, and learning how to try new things, all of this gradually began to change. There are two things that will thrust you into stepping out of your comfort zone: being a military spouse and single parenthood. I started cooking more and even picked up some new recipes from other friends. The more that I started cooking things out of my comfort zone the more my confidence began to grow.
My confidence really bloomed more when I met my spiritual mother who is an amazing baker and cook. Over the years of getting to know her I learned more about different spices to use as well as trying different recipes in the baking area. As I practiced and started bringing new dishes to parties or group functions, I realized that not only did I like to cook and bake but I was also pretty good at it! My husband now is currently reaping a lot of the benefits from that. He thinks I can bake and cook anything! And truthfully there isn’t any recipe that I see now that intimidates me. I pull up new recipes all of the time and bake or cook them on a whim. Not just that, I will try a recipe for the first time and take it to a party or group function and not stress about it because I’ve become more confident in my ability to do so ( I also taste stuff before I bring it…..I mean I want to ensure it does taste good! LOL). I even cook without measuring now! And, sure, sometimes I burn things or it doesn’t turn out right but that doesn’t stop me or change my confidence.
The point to this story is somtimes we think we don’t like something or aren’t too good at doing something to include trying new things and in some cases this may be true. But sometimes it’s our confidence or lack thereof that is standing in the way. We allow the times that we have made mistakes or didn’t do as well discourage us from trying again. I know we’ve all heard the saying at some point in our lives “If at first you don’t succeed try and try again.” The more we work at something the better we become and the better we become the more our confidence is built up. Don’t get discouraged and resort back to staying in your comfort zone.
Keep in mind that as you branch out and try new things; as you push the boundaries of your confidence people may come out of no where and say or do things that may be discouraging. They may not mean it to come off as discouraging but people don’t always see the back side of things. They don’t always know the work or effort that you’ve put into something before they respond in criticism. Sometimes they think they are helping you. Either way remind yourself that you won’t always have everything perfect but that’s not going to change the path that you are on. Keep going because soon enough you will see the results of all of your efforts and well, confidence in yourself and your abilities is always a great result.
Now I do bake cookies and cakes from scratch and I imagine that my mom is in heaven smiling down at me because I rose to the potential she knew I had. I bet she wishes she could call her friend and really get her brag on now! But what really warms my heart is knowing that she bragged on me anyway-before I came into my potential and confidence. You may not have someone bragging on you right now but brag on yourself! Consider it the beginning of your confidence building journey.