A Wave of Thoughts
Updated: Feb 11
Today I was thinking back to the days when I didn't know how to cook. It didn't strike me as much of an issue until I moved into my first apartment, but even then I wasn't that interested.
There were so many other things I wanted to do and variations of pasta and sauce were just fine with me.
By the time I got married at 28, I had been thinking a lot about not being able to cook. I wanted it for me (it was time to eat something new besides that pasta), plus it seemed one of us needed to know our way around the kitchen.
I was so intimidated by the process of learning to cook. I blamed it on the fact that my mom wasn't much of a cook. I also compared myself to people who were already cooks (really good ones). When I had the guts to try cooking, it wouldn't "turn out" and I would conclude I wasn't meant to cook.
In 2006 I moved to New Orleans, and decided my cooking status needed to change. I arrived not knowing a single soul. My husband worked long hours. By that time, I was a new stay at home mom who longed for the ability to make a meal for our family. It seemed like a simple thing I should know how to do by now. I birthed a child so why in the world had cooking alluded me for so long?
I set off to find cooking classes in one of the most famous food cities in the US. I saw an opportunity to meet people and learn from the pros. I was so nervous. Meeting new people AND cooking with them. I immediately started sweating. Even introducing myself seemed scary. To be honest, it still is sometimes. But that's another story.
I took a few basics courses and before I knew it, I was cutting a whole chicken into parts, making a roux and using more butter than I have ever imagined. I learned about cooking tools, cooking methods and how to put a meal together. It felt so good to be able to cook for my family. Even if it took hours and I broke the disposal with shrimp shells, I plowed forward. (I'm from the midwest. Enough said on that one.)
Looking back, it was the structure of the classes, the fact that I paid to be there (always keeps me accountable), the camaraderie between students and most important, the one thing the teacher said over and over again.
"You can pretty much fix any meal. There are no mistakes in cooking."
Over the course of a few months, I became a person who cooks.
That was almost 14 years ago. If you met me today, you would never know there was a time when I didn't know how to cook. I know how to follow recipes, improvise and have created a few of my own dishes.
Sometimes they turn out awesome. Sometimes it's meh, and that's ok. On occasion, they really suck and that's ok too.
What's so clear to me now is the story I told myself about cooking kept me from doing it.
I had a bunch of excuses as to why cooking was so hard for me. (It's so easy to blame moms for everything right? I sure did that with cooking.)
I didn't want to be a beginner and fail.
Planning it, grocery shopping and finally doing the cooking seemed like tons work.
I wanted and expected to be like experienced cooks.
If a dish didn't work out, I was frustrated about the time and money I spent.
I knew I would feel uncomfortable in the kitchen.
None of these thoughts set me up to succeed. Quite the opposite result.
It wasn't until I believed what my cooking teacher said.
There are no mistakes in cooking.
That sentence gave me the freedom to make a ton of mistakes.
Imagine if you gave yourself the freedom to make mistakes?
To be a beginner. To suck at new things. To fail. To fail and not make it mean anything about you.
Take a moment to imagine what you would do. Write it down.
What would be the sentence that would propel you forward?
What's the sentence that holds you back?
Becoming aware of these sentences is the first step.