9 Important Life Lessons Learning To Bake Teaches You (Other Than That Everything Is Better With Butter)
What I love about baking is that anybody can do it, regardless of experience level. It doesn't come with a weird set of social rules or a need for skill like golfing or scuba diving or whatever it is that people who don't bake do in their spare time. And baking suits a lot of different personalities: You can either play it safe and stick to the tried and true recipes, or go crazy and try whatever you want. Baking doesn't judge. Plus, at the end of it, you're always rewarded with something delicious, whether it's the world's best chocolate chip cookie or homemade bread or some creation you don't even have a name for. (I'm the inventor of an atrocity I like to call "cake blobs," for instance.)
I've used baking as a band-aid for petty school drama, as therapy for mid-twenties crises, as a perfect excuse to stay indoors and eat on a rainy day. I don't think there are many revelations in my life quite as fun as realizing that I have three hours where I have nowhere to be, and I have time to hit Pinterest and make what may very well be the ugliest thing that comes out of my oven. Over the years I've gotten better at it (enough that I'm usually trusted with an oven timer), and have learned that baking teaches you a lot of worthwhile lessons about life:
Things Are Going To Get Messy
It doesn't matter how careful you are or how well you plan everything. The cocoa powder is going to explode. You're going to lose out on that job you thought you'd nailed the interview for. The only thing you can expect in baking, and in life, is that you're not really supposed to expect anything at all, because there are just some things you can't control.
Some Accidents Are The Good Kind
Once my sister left the eggs out of these biscuits she was making, and while I remember her being a bit bent out of shape about it when she first figured it out, they ended up tasting oddly delicious. I mean, they clearly weren't biscuits anymore, but I still fantasize about them. A lot of things in life are similar to that egg incident: When something unexpected or accidental happens, I like to think it's because something good is going to come out of it. Then again, I'm addicted to baking, so maybe that's just the optimist in me riding this cliché out to the end.
Little Mistakes Will Blow Over
Baking forgives. You can accidentally add in an extra half cup of flour and odds are nobody's going to tell that much of a difference. In life, I think we tend to beat ourselves up over little things that have no real bearing on our futures, or little things that we don't have the power to change, but in the end, it's just a waste of time and a waste of worry. Forgive yourself as easily as my sister's biscuits forgave her, and your life will be a whole lot easier.
Some Risks Are Worth Taking
Go ahead, substitute almond extract for vanilla. Go on that blind date. Sometimes shaking things up will leave you pleasantly surprised.
Some Things Are Worth The Wait
Do you know how much self control I exercise by not eating the entire bowl of cookie dough? Of course you do; I'm assuming if you're reading this, you are also a human with taste buds. And while I am always going to lick the spoon (take that, salmonella), my patience is always rewarded when warm cookies come out of the oven. I think we spend a lot of transition periods in our lives the same way: Waiting and knowing that if we do, there will be better things up ahead. This is especially relevant to post-grad life. While the months or years of figuring things out are certainly a lot more of a toll than the ten minutes of waiting for cookies, it will also be worth the wait when you find something that makes you happy.
You Are Just Fine On Your Own
Baking can be a solo sport just as easily as it can be a group activity. I love hitting Pandora and baking in the quiet when I'm the only one home, because for some reason mixing sugar and butter on my lonesome makes me feel reflective and peaceful. It can make you appreciate all the other quiet moments in your life where you are totally capable of being on your own.
But You Always Have More Fun With People You Love
Baking with my sisters or with my buddies is the best. In college I used to physically mark it on my calendar and the excitement would sustain me for all the days leading up to baking dates. I had full-on "cake parties" for literally no reason other than I wanted to bake and see my favorite humans. Life is just more fun when there are people around you to share it with.
Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously
Baking is just baking, so of course you shouldn't take it too seriously. Unless it's your actual job, baking is something that you do for fun, and whatever you make won't last forever. But when you think about it, life isn't all that different. It comes with its own set of responsibilities and pressures, but every now and then, just relax and remember that you should make the most out of the life you've got. (I'm trying so hard not to put a particular acronym in here that rhymes with polo, so I need to move on, NOW.)
Hard Work Is Always Worth The Reward
Especially if that reward is slathered in frosting or butter.
Images: Fox; Giphy (9)