What Are Your Labels?
I got an email the other day about a friend trying to make one of my recipes. She was panicked about trying to pull it off without the right equipment. When she didn’t hear back from me, she kept working on it but she was not happy with the result – blaming her bad cooking skills the whole time. The whole experience confirmed for her that she was a bad cook and should be the kind of parent that buys all baked items wrapped in plastic.
Meanwhile, I was also baking that day. I also had messed up my recipe and ended up with burnt granola. I took one look at it, picked the burnt pieces off the edges, put it in the mason jar and called it roasted granola. The experience did not alter how I felt about my cooking skills or much else.
The episodes made me think about how we label ourselves and what happens when we live up to those labels. My friend already defines herself as a bad cook so everything that goes wrong in the kitchen merely confirms her idea of herself. When a dish works out she considers it a fluke. I am the opposite, when something goes wrong in the kitchen, as it almost always does to good cooks and bad, I shrug it off, toss it in the garage or figure out a solution. More often that not, I blame the recipe.
I wish I could say that I am like this in all parts of my life. But I am not. There are lots of times that failure, or perceived failure has stopped me from moving forward with an idea or project. Many of us can only go as far as the limits we place on ourselves because of our perceived faults.
My younger son says he can’t ride a bike, so every time he falls it just confirms his suspicion that he is two-wheeled challenged. My eldest son used to consider himself a bad reader so he never picked up a book. Somehow this year he has completely lost that self-label and become a voracious reader. It was an incredible transformation because as an adult it seems almost impossible to change your self-definition. Sometimes we can learn amazing things from our kids -- that working through that recipe or difficult blog post can actually change who we are.