Doubt is a funny thing. It shows up when you least want it or expect it; like a terrible acquaintance who pops in at the most inconvenient time and brings nothing but a sick ass casserole you have no intention of eating. It doesn’t matter how many times you ask it not to return or shout it has no place in your life, it barges past your locked elbow, plants its butt on your couch, and barks out an order to grab it a beer.
You can tell I don’t have much love for doubt. I know it adds nothing to my life. Logically, that is. But there is something about the way it sweet talks its way back into my life that I can’t resist. Doubt tells me I may be special in my own little way, but nothing like the huge dreams I’ve set for myself. Doubt reminds me it’s doing me a favor by breaking my heart now with the suggestion to never try before any real pain happens from failure.
There must be something comforting about doubt to let it return to my life on such a regular basis. When I feel strong, powerful, there’s no second thoughts about casting it away. But the smallest hint of failure brings it barreling back. And even though I hate myself for it, my arms open wide and welcome it back like an old friend.
It’s ridiculous. I know it’s no good. I know there’s no value. But here we are. Doubt and I wrapped in each other’s arms and with its sweet nothings being whispered in my ear. There’s only one thing to do to combat it. Think about cake.
What does cake have to do withy any of this besides the fact it’s pretty much the remedy for anything? A few months ago, I declared I would make my father-in-law’s favorite cake for his birthday. German chocolate. I’d never made it before but couldn’t wait to try a new recipe. The days crept up fast and for some unknown reason, it was the night before his birthday before I knew it. German chocolate was nixed and I went to good ole fashioned classic chocolate. Since I’d waited until after work to bake, I couldn’t frost until the next morning before another grinding day at the office.
In the morning, I woke up early to make the ganache to fill the layers. Against my better judgement, I poured on the liquid chocolate in a haste and stacked the layers. I knew it wasn’t a good idea before I did it, but I was rushed, frantic, and needed to get the damn thing done. What should’ve been an easy frosting turned into chaos when chocolate flowed over every edge. With each fix, another hole sprang. Before I knew it, the whole thing was a chocolate mess. Frazzled, I threw it in the fridge, cursing it was ruined. I’d have to deal with it when I got home in the forty minutes I’d have before he arrived.
All day I berated myself for waiting until the last minute, for thinking I could pour ganache without a dam, and for being a terrible baker. (How quickly we jump to the worst conclusion.) After work I sped home so I could get back to salvaging, knowing the real answer was to scrap the whole thing. The ganache between the layers had set up pretty well and the remaining I’d left from the morning was a good consistency for frosting. I whipped it up and had just enough to cover the cake. The edges were rough, but it was at least covered, right? In the fridge was a little vanilla buttercream left over from a cake a few days before that I was saving for cake pops. I used it to pipe the edge and threw a strawberry on top for a little color. Ta da!
My father-in-law thanked me for making him a perfect cake. A cake filled with mistakes. Nothing was how it was supposed to be. Every decision was a conflict to what I wanted. Doubt was there the whole time telling me to throw the whole thing away. If I’d listened, there would have been nothing to celebrate him reaching another year. If I had, doubt would’ve won and more than a cake would’ve been lost.
So right now I’m thinking about my Mistake Cake. The imperfection of the layers. The uneven piping of the vanilla roses. The fact it wasn’t anything close to German Chocolate. Because as I humor doubt by letting it stick around and drink all my alcohol, I flutter from my oven to my computer to pour my heart into my passions. Slowly, I’ll build my strength with small victories to bring the power back to my side. It’s only a matter of time before I tell doubt it was never invited, the casserole is shit, and most of all get the fuck out.
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