I can’t cook. It’s not because I don’t know how. I watched my parents for years, and Andrew and I have spent the last decade cooking together. I know my way around the kitchen; I’m familiar with different cooking techniques and all of the cooking equipment we own. I even have decent knife skills, and I know the difference between a dice and a mince.
So what’s the problem?
I’m a perfectionist.
Sometimes when I have tried to cook on my own, I have run out of the kitchen crying. While I hid in the bathroom, Andrew swooped in and fixed what was wrong.
This is not a new experience for me. It happened when I was a little kid too. I’ll never forget the art project I couldn’t complete. I was using oil crayons to draw a winter landscape with mountains and pine trees. I had the whole picture in my head, but when it came time to making my creation come to life on the page, it didn’t look anything like the picture in my head. I had a hysterical meltdown. So my mom swooped in and saved the project.
I have grand ideas, I cannot execute what I envision, and I flip out. I really hate this pattern.
Most of the time, my pursuit of perfection means that I freeze up before I can even start. This is especially ridiculous to me because I know the importance of failure. I even teach an entire unit to my seniors on success where we read an article on failure.
Last year, I failed my 20Time project because I didn’t even try. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but something has changed. Maybe it’s turning 30. Maybe it’s the spirit of 20Time where failure is an option. Whatever it is, I’m ready for a change.
I pitched my project to my kids last week, and I told them that my 20Time project is to learn how to cook. But I don’t think that’s accurate. Reflecting on this, it’s more precise to say that my project is to stop being a perfectionist in the kitchen.
I know it’s not going to be easy. Actually, I think the first few weeks are going to be miserable. Candidly, I’m terrified to let go of this part of myself. I’ve been obsessed with perfection for three decades. I also know that it’s not a healthy mindset. It’s not one I want to model for my students, and even more importantly, it’s not a mindset I want to pass on to my future children.
Last Saturday, I completed my first dish, and I did not need rescuing. Here’s to learning new things and having a growth mindset. Until next time friends.
I'm a Southern California teacher who loves the outdoors, weekend DIY projects, gardening, and baking.