Baking Meltdowns & the Repercussions of Failure

I might bake this family recipe this weekend. I’ve made it vegan before, but I might try to make it vegan in a different way this time and I haven’t decided if I want to make it yet because I’m waiting to see if I have the emotional capacity in case it doesn’t work.

A blank stare from my friend tells me that this only sounds sane in my head.

What I mean to say is that I know myself. And I know that sometimes at the end of a particularly draining day or week, I don’t want to try something that might not work. It’s more comfortable to do something I know will bring me joy.

I also know that when I have had colossal baking fails—be it the lemon bars that looked and felt like slime or the birthday cupcakes that tasted like sawdust, I don’t necessarily always respond rationally (cue crying on the kitchen floor).

I was laughing with another friend about this some days later when they got reflective (and charmingly validating).

I think it doesn’t sound as crazy as you’re pretending, though. Basically, what you’re pondering is whether you have time to do this thing knowing that there is a possibility of failure. What you’re asking is whether you have the time and capacity to deal with the repercussions of that.

And I suppose that’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? How much more likely are you to dream big when you feel like other parts of your life are stable and positive? How much more likely are you to take a risk when you know you have someone or something to fall back on?

Conversely, then, it makes sense that in times of uncertainty or exhaustion, we might hesitate to step outside our comfort zone.

I’ve had this post in the queue for some time, trying to pull a moral from these two independent conversations, trying to figure out what the big idea was. Finally, I came back to “the repercussions of failure.”

I suppose in the trial of chocolate chip brownies, the stakes are quite low. While it might seem devastating to ruin a pan of brownies and the ingredients, time, and energy that went into it, in reality, the repercussions are minute.

But what about when it’s something big and grandiose? The kind of thing you sheepishly tell a friend you want to achieve or accomplish. The kind of thing that sometimes sounds too bold to even audibly vocalize. What about the repercussions of that?

The first time I gave a public speaking presentation about The Smile Project I was 19 or 20 years old. In an effort to encourage audience participation and reflection with students who were only a few years younger than myself, I asked a series of questions, three of which were something along the lines of:

  1. What is a dream or goal you have?

  2. What happens if you try and it doesn’t work?

  3. What happens if it does?

In most cases, when forced to put pen to paper, the answer to the second question wasn’t nearly as devastating as our spiraling minds might want us to believe. Ah but our answers to question three? What happens if it all works out?

Well in the case of my recent baking query, it means decadent vegan brownies. And in the case of my wildest dreams? Well that’s even more beautiful than I can possibly imagine.

This week, we invite you to spend some time with those questions. Remind yourself that you can handle the “repercussions of failure.” And allow yourself to dream of the beauty that could be waiting just on the other side.

Love always,