Last week, I set out to make cookies. And by set out, I mean I had a sudden attack of restlessness and felt an obsessive need to make something – anything – just as long as it involved measuring and baking. I landed on cookies because they’re the easiest thing to make when I’m scattered and NEED TO DO SOMETHING. Thus, I set out to make easy, no fail, made them 500x, have the recipe memorised chocolate chip cookies.
I didn’t have a lot of chocolate chips, and only half the butter I needed, so instead of going to the store (which would take too long), I decided to only make half a recipe. I weighed the butter and cut it into cubes. I knew the butter wasn’t soft enough and if I didn’t wait an hour, I’d make a giant mess of sugar and butter crumbs when I tried to cream it (oh, the perils of hand mixers and shallow mixing bowls). So I waited maybe 5 minutes while I measured everything else and prepped the pans. And then I couldn’t wait any longer so I got to creaming.
As predicted, butter and sugar went flying. Instead of waiting for the butter to soften, I mashed it with the potato masher, and tried to “fold” the sugar into the butter. It still made a mess. Instead of waiting for it to soften again, I added a bit of milk. Bingo. The sugar and butter creamed without making a mess, and I didn’t have to wait an hour (even though by this point I had already wasted another 15-20 minutes). I mixed in the dry ingredients, the chocolate chips, and scooped them into the pan.
I thought something was strange when the dough was sticking to my fingers, and not really staying in a ball like shape. That’s weird, but whatever. I put the pan in the oven to bake, and 10 minutes later, was welcomed to this:
A burned disc of butter sugar shit. And the next pan was the same.
The disappointment was palpable.
I quickly realised what happened – in my ADD MILK haste, I needed to compensate with a bit more flour – which I didn’t. I also chopped it up to being bad at math and not reducing the ingredients correctly. I reduced the flour from 2 1/4 cups to 1 cup, 2 tbsp, which Google and a quick fact check by Leah confirmed was correct. But later that evening when I was washing up, I discovered that I used a 1/2 cup measure that I thought was a 1 cup measure. So really, I’m good at math, and bad at reading.
Small mistake. It sucks. If you’ve been following along the blog recently, I haven’t exactly been batting a thousand this year. I’ve felt more way failure than win, like a lot more failure. And as I looked at this pan of greasy, dried elephant dung that I created, something that I’m normally amazing at, and yes, shamefully scooping it up with a fork and eating it in much the same manner as the way a dog eats its own vomit, I knew I really need to get my own shit together.
I make small mistakes that avalanche into big mistakes because I rush. Because I’m ridiculously anxious and impulsive. It’s OMG I HAVE TO DO THIS NOW I DON’T CARE IF IT’S NOT READY inside my head and then FUCK WHY DIDN’T I JUST DO THAT THING I NEEDED TO DO when it turns out badly. It was like this pan of baked diarrhea was a direct metaphor for my life – hurrying and making small mistakes just to get it done rather than taking the time to do it right.
If my internal failure cycle were an Ouroboros, it would look like this:
It’s a vicious, vicious cycle. Anxiety > Rush/Stall > Small Mistake Avalanche > Fail
Most of the time, I’m of the “OMG, I really need to do this, but I see these issues will prevent this from being the best it can be, so I’m going to take X step and X step so I don’t make a mistake.” persuasion. For the past few months though, I’ve just overlooked all of that so I can get something done and feel some sort of personal gratification or sense of accomplishment. I’ve fallen into this “oh it’s just a small mistake so it won’t matter” kind of thinking that just doesn’t work at all. Because small mistakes turn into an avalanche. So even if I’m accomplishing things, those things aren’t the best – or they’re just wrong. Which makes me feel like more of a failure.
And I’m desperate to learn how to derail the cycle. How to instil thoughtful, deliberate, mindful actions in everything I do, instead of rushing to get to the finish line. After all, I’m not winning any ribbons by finishing projects, goals, or baked goods that look like shit – literally.
So on Sunday, I decided I needed to regroup, since Saturday was a panicky waste of good breathable oxygen. So I made of list of everything I needed to do, gave myself time frames to do some chores while Skyping with Cara, get a giant chunk of work done, and then I went to the store to buy more cookie ingredients. This time, I measured everything carefully, I let my butter soften on the counter, I made way less of a mess, and the cookies turned out crispy on the edge, soft in the center, all over golden, and delish:
I was even able to finish my weekend work with a little more satisfaction than I normally have. And I think it’s because I took my time to slowly and considerately do everything. The cycle of OMG GET IT DONE is a hard one to beat, and over the past week, I’ve realised I just need to take it one day at a time. Of just being careful and aware – I mean, I want to be HIGHLY AWARE, but I’ll accept general awareness and perseverance for now.
Basically, the point of this blog is I learned a lesson:
If you don’t wait for the butter to soften, you’ll end up with shit.
Eating half a pan of melted butter sugar dough will make your pants suddenly shrink over night.