"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Harold WhitmanI read it moments after I awoke with fatigue in my eyes. It’s been a rough week. I’ve been very hard on myself this week. Internally. I’ve kept it all internal. The demons like it there. It’s warm. When I write for my blog I ask myself routinely, what can I give today? What does the world need? What can I put out there that will be useful to you? And then I write the most boring, mindless, peppy, rah-rah! recipe introduction because I’m a cookbook author and that’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to write a perky food blog. The world needs more food blogs. But good Lord, I am not a food blogger. I do not want to write food blog. I never did. I never will. Sometimes I like to write about food. Sometimes. But writing a food blog does not make me come alive. Writing perky recipe intros does not make me come alive. Espousing the benefits of unsalted butter over salted butter does not make me come alive. Reading about cookies stuffed with pies rolled in brownies topped with nuts dipped in chocolate does not make me come alive. Frosting, yes, frosting does make me come alive. But not for the reasons you think. Frosting was forbidden. Always. There was an intense shame I would feel as a child when I eyed that corner piece of cake with the giant frosting flower. Afraid to ask for it. Afraid I’d look like a glutton. Wanting SO badly to put that giant mound of colored sugar in my mouth but letting the shame of my desire keep me from requesting it. Listening to the moms say, “Oh none for me, I don’t like dessert”, and hearing the echoes of, “too much sugar, too much sugar” ringing all around. Until one brave soul (always a man) walked up to the cake table and assuredly, with a slight air of smug, lay claim to that frosting-laden corner piece. I hated that man. And I wanted to be him. I envied his confidence and bravery. Having a love for frosting felt undeniably forbidden. Wrong. Shameful. Disgraceful. Gluttonous. Akin to doing drugs or over imbibing in alcohol. Butter, sugar, and salt—the three deadly sins—all dressed in rose’s clothing. But throughout my life my secret love of the forbidden frosting continued. Always falling prey to that in life, which was forbidden. Constantly being pulled between my desire to shirk the rules and the shame I’d feel if having done so. A maniacal pull to buck the trend. To fight conformity. To allow myself to be, and inspire others to be human. But as strong as that pull is, the fear of judgment is often stronger. To open a cupcake shop when I should have been finishing college. To start a business when the most experience I had was filing papers in a car dealership. To start over after getting swindled, when I should’ve quit. To audition again when I didn’t make it the first time. To close my shop at the height of it’s success. And to write a book about frosting everything when frosting is just for cake. With each of these decisions, I’ve fought my fear of judgment and my fear of shame in order to do the things that have felt forbidden. And in those moments, I came alive. But then something changed this year. I rediscovered my fear. I fell victim to it. I approached this blog most days only writing what felt safe. Many times I told myself to stop hiding. To reenter the forbidden. And then I’d find myself writing perky recipe intros, peppering my speech with words like “tasty” and “delicious”—a style that is so saccharine it makes me sick. I stayed safe by following the lead of other baking cookbook authors, attempting to remain “on-brand” in the hopes of catching a sponsor’s eye and making a dime. I’ve held in all that I’ve wanted to say, all that feels “me”; and I’ve sat on my couch and stewed. Sometimes the forbidden “me” took to twitter, where comments scroll quickly, and “delete” is at the tip of my finger. And in that one second when the real me is unleashed, when I tweet what feels authentic—the snarky, the shrewd, and the forbidden— I finally feel alive again. I started this journey to break through the boundaries of what felt forbidden. To inspire others to be brave enough to attempt, to create, and to venture into their inhibitions. To start a business, to invent a product, to stay single when everyone else is married, to rent when all your friends are buying, to hop a bus to NYC, to drive to New Orleans, to adopt a dog, to test your strength, to eat the frosting off the cake. To give the world what the world really needs—people who have come alive.
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