Don’t tell anyone, but I’m a recovering perfectionist. This means I always, always tend to want to do everything I do perfectly well, but remain well below levels on par with an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Thankfully, over the years, my perfectionist tendencies have subsided somewhat. I suspect if I took a test today, I would not burst into tears if I did not earn an A++. Of course, I can’t be 100 percent certain about that . . . hhmmmm. Anyway, while I still prefer to do all things as perfectly as I can, I no longer steer entirely clear of things that I may not be able to do perfectly well. Golf not included. And, I’m finding that I’m more and more OK with things not turning out exactly perfect on the first try. Or even the second.
Case in point? Cooking. Nothing ruins one’s desire to cook like one’s desire to always be perfect. I’ve always disliked cooking. Or, so I thought. Recently, I’ve been wondering if I dislike cooking because of the actual process or because I’m concerned the recipes won’t turn out.
I’ve always been a by-the-book kind of girl. I follow recipes, painstakingly so, measuring and re-measuring to make sure I include just the right amount of everything. When all is said and done, if a dish doesn’t turn out well, I’m certain it is a reflection on my inability to adequately follow the instructions in the first place. Which can NOT be possible because no one can follow instructions better than me. No one.
So, you see the vicious cycle that formed and solidified my distaste for cooking or baking anything beyond a box cake mix.
These past few months, however, I’ve been moving beyond the need to have recipes turn out perfectly well on the first try, focusing more on the fact that I’m trying to make new things. Because, (a) my husband prefers to eat more than just different varieties of cereal and (b) if a recipe doesn’t turn out, I can chalk it up to a learning experience instead of the end of the world.
Why I did not discover this at age 10 is beyond me. How useful it would have been!
Imagine my surprise this past week, when I found myself willing to just throw things in a pot all willy-nilly like and hope for the best. Sure, it was pasta sauce, and you probably can’t remotely screw up pasta sauce, but I was tossing things in, not using jarred pasta and hoping for the best.
And you know what? Some onion, red pepper, tomatoes, pepperoni, chicken and 10 spices later, I had an excellent pot of pasta sauce simmering away. It’s true. Husband can attest to it. Yes, I was a little bit proud. And little bit more willing to try more experiments in the kitchen.
No worries though, I won’t be tossing my measuring spoons and cups or cookbooks anytime soon. Or picking up any golf clubs for that matter. Let’s not get crazy with this lessening-the-grips-of-perfectionism thing.