When Beauty Is Only Frosting Deep, or, Working Overtime on Being Kind to Myself

dsc_0039I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It might be your secret, too, or it might not. It is a secret that is both deeply comforting and often unnerving.

The secret is this: I am at my very best when I’m alone.

On my own, it’s easy to follow my instincts, to go where I want and do the things I love. This independence allows me to be the best version of myself–unconcerned with performing any  kind of part for another person. However, I am no hermit-in-training. I don’t want to go off into the woods and build a shack for myself and the small wolf I found in the forest. I love conversation and touch and laughter and those, for the most part, require another person.

How strange that I feel I must give up a part of my best self in order to be with other people.

I think this feeling is why baking appeals to me. All on my own, I take raw ingredients, blend them together in different ways and, hopefully, something worthwhile comes out of it. But the greatest pleasure I get from baking is watching other people enjoy what I’ve created, watching them appreciate that I have made this thing and brought it to them because I thought of them. How intoxicating to be thought of! Alone, and not alone.

The cake I made this week was a Chocolate Sponge Cake, similar to the Genoise Cake, but sweeter and more moist. Again the ribbon stage eluded me. I think in my enthusiasm to reach this ideal, I have been overbeating my eggs, taking all the air out of them.

This is like my life.

Lately I feel like I’ve been trying so hard to build a life that fits me (as opposed to squeezing myself into a certain kind of life) that I’ve chased myself into a corner. As a generally very calm person, I think that’s where all this anxiety is coming from. This feeling that I must, must, MUST get out. This feeling that I’m bruising myself by pushing and pushing and pushing.

Coming out of the oven, the cakes themselves were very soft and velvety, so much so that the top kept flaking off whenever it came into contact with something else. I took the bottom layer and covered it in 7-minute Frosting (similar to old-fashioned meringue), placed the second layer on top, and then covered the whole thing with a chocolate ganache. It was, I think, the most aesthetically appealing cake I’d made so far.

But once I cut into it, I wished I had made the middle layer of frosting thicker, more like a Hostess cupcake. The cake ended up being overly dense (that overbeating again) and littered with little potholes of unincorporated flour, like zits on a pubescent teen’s face. The cake itself was highly disappointing. I expected filet mignon and got Arby’s. The frostings were both good–the 7-minute frosting was excellent and the ganache was decadent and slightly crunchy–but in the end, it simply didn’t work.

In the end, this was the worst cake I’ve made. I threw it away instead of sharing it, because I was embarrassed by its distance from perfection, from my own vision of what it should be.

I think I’ve been spending so much time focusing on beating my life into shape that I’ve forgotten how much enjoyment I get out of sharing it with others from time to time. Yes, I am great at being alone and honestly enjoy my solitude, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I also love my friends and family, and they love me. I’ve become so focused on myself and what I’m not accomplishing that I’ve forgotten that they don’t care whether or not I’m perfect…

They just want to be near me, and for me to be happy.

How lucky I am.

Current Means of Escape:


Current Auditory Therapy:


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Erin says:

    You are exactly on point. You are loved for who you are. Perfectly imperfectly so.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s