Lately I’ve been struggling lately with all the negativity that surrounds us constantly in the news. There are political arguments, issues with terrorism, fights among people of faith over things like Kim Davis (which is a blog for another time) and just general unrest all around us. It can sometimes start to wear you down in ways you don’t even realize. We start looking at things in our own lives with a wary eye. We become cynical and start focusing on all the things we don’t have or what other people DO have. We start losing our confidence and feel like hunkering down until all the stress of life blows over. It can absolutely wear you down. This is where I’ve found myself lately, but then something wonderful happened. I baked a pie. I realize that announcement seems to be completely unrelated to what I have to say, but it really isn’t that far out in left field. You see, sometimes it is the most unlikely, seemingly random things in life that can help you refocus on something positive.
I am not, (I repeat, NOT) a domestic goddess! Most of you who follow the blog know that I am a true tomboy and always have been. While my sister was spending time in the kitchen with my mom and grandmas, I was busy outside hunting, fishing, playing football and doing whatever else I could to get dirty and have some fun. As a result, I never developed a love for cooking and baking, or even knew HOW to do any of it. I could do enough to eat and stay healthy, but tackling something like a pie? Well, that was just way too far out of my comfort zone. I manage to do a lot of things fairly well, but believe me, VERY few of them involve a kitchen! That being said, I saw a picture of a pie a week or so ago and immediately thought it was one of the coolest looking pies I’ve ever seen. Immediately I thought, “I want to make that pie!” (No, I’ve never made a pie from scratch in my life. No, I’ve never made pie crust. No, I have no idea what I’m doing.) I showed the picture to a dear friend of mine who is an amazing cook/baker. Seriously, everything I’ve ever tasted of hers has been amazing! When I told her I wanted to make the pie, she chuckled and then said, “Ok, let’s make it!” We decided on a time to get together so that she could stand in the kitchen with me and help talk me through the first pie-making experience of my life.
Yesterday, she showed up with all the stuff I needed in order to make the pie but knew I probably didn’t have in my house – cookie sheets (I only had one), parchment paper (I had no clue what that was for), spices (believe it or not, I actually already had nutmeg!) and a recipe for apple pie. We went to the store and bought the other things we needed, and I embarked on my journey. I don’t know how long a pie is SUPPOSED to take to make, but I’m pretty sure the process isn’t supposed to take almost 7 hours. I watch MasterChef and I’m pretty sure they could have done it in less than 45 minutes! LOL. Don’t get me wrong, I made the entire pie myself, but I had to ask questions and have the “whys” of certain things explained to me. If I’m going to learn to make a pie, I want to really learn how to do it so I can do it again. By the time everything was complete, I stood in my kitchen staring at something I honestly never thought I’d be able to do. It made me giddy! Yes, a pie made me giddy! I was so excited that I posted pictures of it on Facebook mostly for the shock value since all my friends know I don’t really cook and I’m sure seriously doubt I have any skills at all. It was a great day/evening, and I made a great pie! Yes, it even tasted great. Was it perfect? No, but it was better than I imagined.
So why share the somewhat boring story about making a pie? Because as I drove to church this morning, with my pie in tow for a potluck, I realized just how good it made me feel. You can laugh at me for saying this, but it made me feel more confident as a person. Yes…a PIE caused that. I realized that no matter how confident I may be in other areas of my life, this was an area that actually made me feel stupid. Do I HAVE to cook? No. Do I HAVE to find a way to be good in areas that do not come naturally for me? Not necessarily. But stepping outside my comfort zone and being willing to listen to someone who is masterfully skilled in an area I’m not, made me see just how true it is that any of us can do anything we set our mind to do.
We make decisions every day – mostly small decisions – that affect how we feel about our abilities, ourselves and our lives. We make them without even thinking about them. We gravitate to our comfort zones even when they may be strangling us to death. If you are a somewhat confident person, it is also sometimes hard to step out of your comfort zone because it can feel embarrassing to have to start from the bottom in something and learn the basics. I dropped out of piano lessons for that very reason. I could play enough piano to write songs and play most of what I wanted by ear. Having to start by learning scales and other basics was just too boring. I didn’t want to admit I struggled with playing the basics when I could sit down and play and sing an entire song already. So our comfort zones can sometimes keep us from growing. Actually, they quite often keep us from growing. We make decisions to put ourselves in boxes. There are certainly outside factors that build boxes for us. People may tell you that you’re not intelligent or that you are brilliant. You may be told you are beautiful or aren’t attractive at all. You may be labeled as a hard worker or lazy. There are so many boxes that are built for us, but here is the beautiful truth: WE choose which boxes in which to put ourselves! We are the ones who choose to climb into them, or in some circumstances, refuse to climb out of them.
Boxes and labels can make us feel safe. We can climb into a familiar box and make self-depreciating jokes about the things we don’t do well so that we don’t have to hear anyone else make jokes about us. We think it is easier to accept our limitations in ways that hold us captive than to put the energy into climbing out of that box. Am I saying we all have to be great at everything? Not at all. Besides, no matter how great you are at most things, there is always something in which others do better than you. It is perfectly okay to NOT be good at something. It is perfectly okay to NOT like something. What I’m saying is that what we tell ourselves about those things is vitally important to our self-confidence. What we choose to believe about ourselves is crucial to our mental well-being. Don’t give in to the peer pressure of a society that tries to dictate what you have to be good at or what makes you “successful.” BUT don’t become so uncomfortable or embarrassed about those things that you aren’t willing to try them if it’s something you want to do. As you’ve probably heard before, “You never know until you try.”
We all have natural abilities, and our life should be filled with maximizing those abilities, talents and gifts. I believe they are God-given for a purpose, and we should embrace them and walk in them. But doing so doesn’t mean you can’t live life to the fullest by experiencing new things! I don’t bake, but I made a pretty darn good apple pie from scratch (based on the reviews of those who saw and ate it)! Had I not been willing to step outside my comfort zone (or ask for help in doing so), I would have missed out on a great experience – both in the time spent with a friend while making the pie and the joy of sharing it with others at the potluck. Will I make another pie? Probably. Do I want to become a baker? Nope. I simply found that I didn’t have to be intimidated by something just because it’s something I wouldn’t normally do.
The greatest thing you can do is to live YOUR life! Be who you want to be and stop making choices based on someone else’s assessment of what you are or are not capable of doing. We are all amazing human beings. Every single one of you reading this is AMAZING! You make look at others and label yourself as being less creative, talented, skilled, smart or a host of other things, but the truth is if that is what you believe, it is because you CHOOSE to believe it. If someone tells you that you aren’t capable of doing something, it is your choice whether or not to believe them. Don’t let someone else’s definition of your potential limit your dreams! And don’t let your potential go unattained because you are held captive by your own comfort zone! Listen to your heart and go boldly in the direction of your dreams – even if those dreams seem insignificant or unreachable to those around you. Achieving even our smallest dreams can become confidence builders that take us to new heights in our lives, even if no one ever knows why it is so important to us.
I guess sometimes all it takes is to bake a pie.