Tag Archives: realizations

Fear Challenge 1/5: Souffle

In the post that is called ‘The Things I’ve Never Done: Part 2,’ I set five goals for myself.
Well, I completed one.

I made a vanilla souffle.

…And it did not go well.

Do me a favor: Visit Google, type in ‘Vanilla Souffle,’ and click on the image search function. Then, look at the pictures.
Do you get how the souffle is supposed to look, all puffy and bursting out of the ramekin?

This is mine:

photo 2

It ACTUALLY did the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what it was supposed to do!
And NO, I didn’t slam anything or bump anything!

I was PISSED.
…Then, I found it kind of funny. And I ate them.
I actually have never eaten a souffle before this and, if I’m honest, it was quite disappointing. Sure, it did not rise, but that wouldn’t have mattered. It tasted like…baked eggs with sugar. If you want that kind of taste, why not make a smooth, yummy custard instead of this?

So, all of this time, I’d been scared to make a souffle.

Did it hurt my ego a bit that it didn’t rise?
Sure.

There are those people who are good at almost everything…you know who I mean? The people who are kind of scary because everything that they do just turns out great and wonderful, or they take to a game or a sport or whatever, and they’re perfect at it.

Oh, this woman who I know is a doctor, but on the side, she knits opera gloves for orphans! Oh, you need to have her show them to you, but that’s nothing compared to what she did for her daughter: She sewed her wedding dress! Didn’t even use a pattern; it was her first time, too. …Yes, her first time sewing! Oh, and you know those amazing cookies in the break room? Guess who baked them!

Well, I am not one of those people.
I default to ‘inept,’ and that really bugs me sometimes. Yes, this involves practice time, as well. It’s downright tiring.
It makes me feel like I’m always outside looking in, which is how I’ve felt my entire life; like a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit anywhere.

Don’t get me wrong: I like being the odd puzzle piece.

But being inept at so many things makes it so difficult to interact with other human beings when you know, no matter how hard you try, that you will lose that cutesy board game, or that new project you wanted to try that is outside of your comfort-zone will turn out a mess EVERY TIME.
A lot of people enjoy ‘a bit of competition;’ it motivates them to be better and strive for greatness, but all it’s ever done for me was make me feel like shit. There are many times in my life where I’d asked myself, in earnest:

Am I good at anything? Anything at all?

The silence following that question is awful.

So, I came to the conclusion that instead of feeling horrible about myself for my ineptness, I would strive for MY best. When I did not bother to compare how I was doing next to others, it made me happier and more willing to continue with all of the things I’m inept with that I love to do. I no longer thought things like:

Why bother? I’ll never be any good at this, so what’s the point?

…and started thinking:

So what if this person is so good that it makes my skills look juvenile? I did my best, and I’m proud of myself!

It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
So good, in fact, that I had a revelation: I reject competition, in and of itself.
It’s certainly not a popular thing to say, but it works for me.

Even though I’ve made this personal progress with myself, I do become fearful of failing at something I feel I’m good at; it’s something I need to work on. Baking is cooking’s sister, so I honestly become scared to do it sometimes because I hate it when I make mistakes.

I would salivate whenever people made souffles on TV; they look SO good…but I was sure mine wouldn’t come out right. And I was jealous of the people who could make them so perfectly. But the funny thing is…it wasn’t as delicious as I thought it’d be. It looks amazing (when it’s done correctly), but I’d be almost embarrassed to serve something that tastes like that to my friends and family. Cut up some strawberries, sprinkle some baker’s sugar on them, and serve it with some angel food cake…call it a day. It is way less work, more filling, and a better dessert, anyway.

Maybe people make souffles simply because they’re difficult and they want to impress people…

Anyway…I did what I said I’d do: I made the souffle.
Did what I was afraid of happening happen?
Yes.
How did I handle it?
Just fine.

The Trouble with Tulips

I’d say that most people I know maintain their friendships the way a gardener maintains pansies or roses:

If a pansy should begin to wilt, stick it in the sun and throw some water on it, and it will perk right back up.
Roses, though…they’re different. They need constant attention, lots of sunlight, pruning, et cetra, but if the gardener is consistently paying mind, the payoff is fantastic.

Lately, my friendships, seem to be the most comparable to the gardener and the tulip:

The gardener plants a bulb, spring comes around, and the plant grows extremely fast. The petals look strong and vibrant, and the colors are bright and happy.
However…
Just when the gardener has gotten used to seeing these beautiful flowers everyday, the petals fall off and they’re left with nothing but the green stems. No matter what the gardener does, that tulip has a shelf-life of a couple of days and there’s no way to extend it. They pop up very quickly, and just as quickly, they disappear.

What a bitch.

My ‘tulip’ friendships began around the time I was 26 or so.
I never really had much trouble making friends in the past, but as I got older, it got increasingly difficult for me to find new friendships with staying power. The friends we make in college move away, people have babies, priorities change, and then we’re left in this late-20s rut. Gone are the days of striking up a conversation with the person smoking outside of a building at school between classes or lab partners. Co-workers are sometimes far too different to form a real relationship with outside of the workplace. So, how does one make friends with people in this semi-isolated state?

I was able to find that ‘rare gem,’ that wonderful stranger I found by happenstance a few times, and form a friendship with them over the last four years. About 90% of the relationships have died, and one is currently dying on the table, seemingly unresponsive to any attempt at resuscitation by my hand, or mouth, in this case.

When this first started happening, it really hurt me. To be blunt, it sucks to think of how nonchalant people are when it comes to dropping another person out of their lives. I’ve always seen every person I’ve ever known as a one-of-a-kind original…something that simply cannot be replaced. It’s always been a damn near inconceivable notion for me to just drop a relationship, as I believe there are ways of working our issues out. And there will be issues, as almost no two individuals will never have a misunderstanding or fight of some kind during their relationship. Nevertheless, people will loosen their grips on those with whom they have even the smallest of conflict.
The other issue I have are people who I get along very well with, who are too busy to include me in their lives. This usually happens with people who have children, and I have yet to find a way to break through this barrier.
Either way, I felt like the others were to blame.

After some reflection, I was able to break out of blaming and ‘victim mode,’ and tried to think critically about my role in these tulip friendships. Could I honestly be completely innocent? Could it really be that everybody else in the world is a perpetrator, just waiting to hurt me?
Cue panic:
It IS me! It MUST be! If it were just one or two people who this happened with, then maybe I just found a few bad eggs, but it just keeps on happening! What if this is it? What if I never make any friends ever again? Is this my life? Oh my God…I’m a completely dysfunctional person! I’m too stand-offish! My standards are WAY too high! Nobody will ever care about me the way I care about them!
I’M FUCKED.

Once I calmed down, I thought about the last few friendships that the petals had fallen off of, one of them being a girl who lived a few minutes away from me.
Before she had a job, we spent lots of time together, but after she found full-time employment, every time I asked her if she wanted to get together (like on my birthday), she’d be busy, but she’d call me every two weeks or so at around 9:00 pm, on a weeknight, drunk, telling me to come over. She’d somehow make time for other people, was constantly throwing parties for her other friends…hell, I even helped her make Jell-o shots for a party to which I wasn’t invited, but I couldn’t manage to plan anything with her. She would do these things, then proceed to call me her best friend. I just couldn’t take the mind-fuck of it all, and I had to walk away from it. But, I tried, oh lord, did I try to make it work with this woman because I cared so much about her. Even now, I’m worried about whether or not she’s eating right or drinking too much or if her marriage is alright.
I had a choice to make: Hurt myself and endure, or hurt myself and stop more pain from happening?
I chose the latter.

Pain like that makes you want to go outside and dig up every single fucking tulip bulb in your yard. I swear, sometimes, I just want to hide, to run away, to stop trying anymore: To be frank, there are times I actually do.
Why even bother anymore? What’s the point? Everything turns to shit, nothing lasts, and people don’t genuinely care about each other. All they care about are people who can provide them with money or sex, and no matter how much of yourself you give to them, you will always be second fiddle to them. A throw away…do you want to be a throw away? No; you’d rather be alone.

So, what does it all mean to somebody like me?
What IS the point?

The point is that these people have taught me so many valuable lessons. Sometimes, they were to blame for the deterioration of the relationship, and sometimes, I was. Sometimes, the petals just fell off, naturally. Either way, there were always lessons for me.

Even though I was hurt by my friend, we had some really good and meaningful conversations and provided each other with the intimacy of a close friendship (for at least part of the relationship, anyway). She was there for me for a particularly trying time in my life, and if she hadn’t been, it would’ve been even harder. Most of all, though, she taught me that I do have the strength to walk away from a relationship when it’s hurting more than enriching me, and that is something I didn’t know I was capable of before.

I still want roses, though.
Hell, I’ll even take pansies. I think they’re both a lot prettier than tulips (and smell better, too).
However, the tulip isn’t all bad. The sight of the tulip signals the ending of the cold, lonely winter, and inspires the hope of warmer weather to come…the kind of weather in which roses thrive.