When you try something for the first time, it is normal to anticipate errors. In fact, when you try something for the 6th or 10th time it is still normal to expect mistakes. As humans we are fallible. And to illustrate that point, I want to tell you a story about when I tried something for the first time without fear and made a silly, but big, judgement in error.
When I was younger my best friend Winnie and I’s birthdays were two days apart, with mine arriving first. On the day of my actual birthday, Winnie baked me a cake and brought it to school to share with all of our close friends. The cake was so good, and the gesture was so sweet, that I decided I had to return the favour. And so, I decided to bake a cake for Winnie’s birthday. The problem was, I had never baked a cake before. However, I did not see this as a hindrance to my plans more so just as a challenge I was ready to accept. Besides, I was taking Chemistry, reading a recipe was just like following a procedure in Chem, how hard could it be?
So I took out my mother’s cookbook from the cupboard, began collecting materials, and started following the recipe word for word. I mixed together the ingredients and everything was going smoothly until I got mid-way through the recipe. I was at the stage where pretty much all of the batter was inside of the bowl and then all of a sudden, the recipe read, “mix by hand.”
I thought to myself, “Mix by hand? Well, haven’t I been mixing by hand the whole time? Strange… but okay!”
And so, with only a moment’s hesitation, I walked over to the sink, pulled up my sleeves to my elbows, grabbed the soap, and began washing my hands like a surgeon. I scrubbed my arms until the point where they were pruning and walked back over to the kitchen table.
I looked at the big bowl of ingredients for my mom’s chocolate fudge cake, took a deep breath and submerged my arms in the cake mix and began mixing. I was about 1-2 minutes into the process of “mixing by hand” when the phone rang. My mother was upstairs and started yelling for me to answer the phone.
I yelled back, “you answer it, I’m mixing the cake!”
My mother responded, “just put down the spoon.”
So I looked at myself, and my current state, and yelled back a meagre, “spoon?”
In that moment, my mom came running down the stairs and mid-way down the staircase she saw me covered in chocolate fudge up until my elbows and collapsed on the stair laughing hysterically.
In that moment I learned more than one valuable lesson. First, do not take things so literally! When it said mix by hand, essentially the spoon was implied. Second, trust your intuition. I knew and had a moment of hesitation that alerted me to the fact that I may be going down the wrong path with my baking methodology. I was originally right and should have listened to that apprehension instead of going along with what felt slightly absurd. Third, while yes it is important to follow directions, it is also important to never forget your common sense. Common sense told me that mixing the cake by hand in that fashion was the wrong choice, but I did it anyway! And fourth, and possibly most importantly, as human beings we make mistakes, but it is important that we try. When we try something new, it is important to remember that we are going to make errors along the way. But mistakes are just a part of the process on the path to mastery or success in anything.
Do not be afraid to try new things, and do not be too hard on yourself if you fall short of your expectations when you try. If we always lived in fear of attempting new endeavours, we would never see our full potential realized. And what is life if not an exploration of a treasure trove of adventures for us to tap into.
Do not be afraid to roll up your sleeves and “mix by hand.”