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8 Struggles Any Good Cook Would Understand

8 Struggles Any Good Cook Would Understand

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” – Harriet Van Horne.

The problem with being a good cook is that everybody expects you to produce amazingly good food every single time! There are no exceptions and no excuses are accepted. Once you are on the good cook list, you really have to work hard to stay in the top 10 and people are just incredibly fussy, judgmental and often damn you with faint praise. Cheap and cheerful recipes are not for you. If you are a good cook, here are 8 struggles which will certainly resonate with you.

1. You have to adjust the menu because…..

You telephone your guests well in advance and ask if they have any dietary restrictions. You can cope with vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant and even gluten free. The only problem is that when somebody adds a last minute guest who just happens to be lactose intolerant and you have ordered mozzarella cheese from your local dairy. You bang the saucepan on the counter top and feel perfectly justified in never inviting them again.

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2. You cannot find that spice.

Guess what? The turmeric spice which is an essential spice in your curry just happens to be behind all the other things in the spice cupboard. You are also running out of time and growling while tempted to throw everything on the floor.

3. You hate guests who arrive early.

The final countdown. Quite frankly, it is sometimes scary. These are the moments when everything has to mesh together for that perfect dinner party and then the doorbell rings. They hope you don’t mind they are half an hour early and they will not disturb you! You can cope with late guests up to a certain point but the early ones can ruin everything.

4. You love perfection but it is not easy.

Can you remember a dinner that went perfectly? The starters were gobbled up and there were enthusiastic murmurs. The pasta dish was perfectly done in a delicious sauce which was just right. Not too salty, not too bland, the pasta not too much ‘al dente’. The roast was perfectly cooked and not too dry and the syllabub was perfectly smooth and the ginger spice was not too strong. Dream on! There will always be something that just did not quite make the grade. Well, 90% is not so bad and you think that your friends’ cooking is pretty mediocre anyway. You remember when you had to eat those miserable, shrivelled up quails the last time you were invited to their place!

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5. You wait for the compliments that never come.

We all crave praise. It is human. But sometimes your dinner guests get caught up in some awful political discussion while you hope they will be distracted enough to give you a little praise. If only they knew the effort you made in ordering the right cut of meat, the detours you made to get the fresh vegetables, not to mention the problems in finding the fresh cream at the dairy because your normal shop had run out. Yes, it was Sunday and you should have known but you would never mention all that!

6. You dare not to experiment with a new dish.

It is just not worth the stress. I have decided never again to try out something new on my guests as it is far too risky. You have studied all the guru chefs and crawled the Internet for the perfect recipe. But it is much better to try it out on your own. Yes, it is a waste of food, energy, blood, sweat, and tears. But you know, it is worth it because there are times when you think ‘Thank goodness I did not try that on my guests.’ You also console yourself with the fact that cooking is a science and it is not about throwing some ingredients in a crockpot.

“There are people who claim to be instinctive cooks, who never follow recipes or weigh anything at all. All I can say is that they’re not very fussy about what they eat. For me, cooking is an exact art and not some casual game.” – Delia Smith.

7. You refuse to take shortcuts.

“The radiation left over from the Big Bang is the same as that in your microwave oven but very much less powerful. It would heat your pizza only to minus 271.3°C – not much good for defrosting the pizza, let alone cooking it.” – Stephen Hawking

You will rarely use the microwave of course. That is not real cooking. There are some shortcuts you refuse to take because you are a good cook and you want to keep your reputation. I have lots of friends who can spot home made pasta, fresh fish and even home made pie crust. Taking shortcuts just does not work. You have to do it the hard old way. That reminds me, I rarely make homemade vegetable stock and so far, I have got away with it!

8. You are always learning.

You spend hours researching and studying recipes and nobody realizes that. Of course, you learn from your mistakes and Julia Child recommends that good cooks should be fearless and have a lot of fun. You should also reflect on your successes and praise yourself to the skies, if no one else will!

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“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.” – Julia Child, My Life in France.

Featured photo credit: I can cook! Watch me!/Phu Son via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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