On the morning of my boyfriend’s 23rd birthday, I attempted to make French toast for breakfast. I will preface this by saying I loathe French toast and cringe whenever he suggests the dish as a possibility, but it’s his favorite, so I played along.
Disclaimer, don’t make French toast with fresh bread. Don’t make French toast with fresh, chocolate-chip brioche bread from Aldi, no matter how scrumptious it looks. Wait until your bread is mildly stale.
Spoiler alert, I didn’t wait. I soaked fresh bread in the egg, cinnamon and vanilla mixture and slapped the sloshy slices on a griddle. In hopes of redemption, I cranked up the heat, but no amount of burner power could reward my efforts. French toast turned into fresh slop, and I choked back tears as I tried to laugh off the failure.
I think I’m like most people in that I don’t like failure. In fact, I hate failure; I don’t deal well with failure. I’m so terrified of not succeeding that when I pulled the French toast from the pan and saw the disgusting mess before me, my body went into an instant state of shock.
“Fuck, he can’t see this. This is pathetic. You’re pathetic.”
I tried to hide my frustration by laughing it off, but it was to no avail. I wept. I called myself a stupid idiot, because only stupid idiots fuck up something as simple as French Toast.
Making an unsuccessful batch of French toast doesn’t qualify as a humongous fuck up, but I didn’t realize that until three days and three glasses of wine later.
I don’t think the problem is quite that I’m afraid of failure because most people are. It’s not healthy, and we should all aim to lead more adventurous lives, but I don’t think that’s the issue here. I think the problem lies in categorizing an unsuccessful, casual culinary attempt as a failure. I failed to achieve a goal, but I didn’t screw up our entire day, or my entire life.
The problem is with how I, we, define successes and failures, and how we emphasize our shortcomings over our triumphs.
I should have embraced my breakfast backslide, laughed through mild embarrassment and whipped up some of my famous cheesy scrambled eggs. He always likes those.
It’s okay to cry into a plate of soggy French toast, and it’s okay to continue crying into your boyfriend’s comforting shoulders as he tries to calm your whiny ass down. But, it’s not okay to sit there and feel sorry for yourself. Feel sorry for a moment, maybe hate Pintrest and think it gave you a misleading recipe, but then pick yourself up and buy more bread. And wait the appropriate amount of time, and start over.
True failure is giving up and defying hope. True failure is accepting reality as eventuality, that “now” is how life will always be. And I’ve got news for you: life isn’t always sitting in your kitchen sniffling over botched breakfast.
Life is trying new recipes. Life is adding to the mix. Life is mis-measuring, making the accidental double batch, or beating the eggs a little too long. Life is mistakes and the making of.
But, life is also beautifully risen souffles and fluffy pancakes and creamy alfredo sauce, all the creamy because you took the time to whisk by hand. Life is sleeping in on a Sunday morning and finding a resourceful use for your week-old sourdough.
So the next time you find yourself face to face with a bowl of semi-lumpy brownie batter or a stuck-to-the-pan panini, take a deep breath…you’ve got this.
And if something goes wrong, that’s okay. Learn from your mistake, and try again.
And pro tip, a little extra vanilla and a sprinkle of nutmeg goes a long way.