I used to be a board game flipper. Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of the details, I suppose that’s a side effect of Hulk-ing. But either when I was losing really badly, or maybe after I had already lost, I flipped the board game and stormed off.
I couldn’t handle my frustration.
While I’ve outgrown throwing board games, I wouldn’t say that I’m cured. Extreme frustration can still put my projects in mortal peril.
As a recent example, I felt like I was walking a tight rope with my college experience blog post. I wanted to show that I was slow developing meaningful friendships, but without discounting the amazing people I went to school with. I wanted to show that I took my studies seriously, had fun, and traveled, but without appearing to brag. I wanted to get my point across, but without rambling. I wanted celebrate my overall experience, but without undermining other peoples’. I felt like I was continuously falling off the tight rope.
I became frustrated, and I was seriously tempted to trash the post altogether.
But surprisingly, something I learned from a baking show saved the day.
I’ve recently gotten into The Great British Baking Show. I like having a light show to play in the background while I do dishes, and this fits the bill! It’s delightful, with lovely music, encouraging yet tough judges, mouthwatering baking, and, apparently, good life lessons.
In a Season 1 episode, the contestants were tasked with making Baked Alaska. Baked Alaska is a cake with a sponge base, ice cream filling, and meringue frosting.
A contestant named Ian had some trouble with his ice cream and ended up with a soupy mess.
I’ll quickly mention that fans might know that there’s a bit of scandal regarding if it was someone else’s fault that his ice cream melted. While I hope (and think) that’s not the case, in this post, it’s beside the point.
The point is that his ice cream melted. He wouldn’t have a sturdy Baked Alaska, and time was running out.
So he did what anyone similarly frustrated and under intense pressure might do. He threw it all in the trash.
When it was time for judging, Ian brought up a trash bin instead of a cake.
This is how the beginning of the conversation went:
Paul (judge): Can you tell me about your Baked Alaska please?
Ian: I had some issues with the ice cream. I let frustration get the better of me.
Paul: Did you have a problem with your sponge?
Paul: Did you have a problem with your meringue?
Paul: Did you have a problem with your ice cream?
Paul: So where’s your sponge? In their? *points to trash bin*
Paul: We could have tested that.
I gave the show more thought than it probably warranted – maybe because it struck a little close to home. Ian had needlessly thrown out the proverbial baby out with the bath water – or “thrown his bake in the bin”, as they said on the show. There were so many other components the judges could have sampled outside of just the texture of the ice cream: flavor/texture of the sponge, flavor of the ice cream, flavor/texture of the meringue, etc.
Yet as I drafted my college post, I was similarly tempted to trash it completely.
For me, drafting a blog is like rehearsing to perform on a stage with bright lights. Super bright lights blind performers to seeing past the stage. Unless they hear something, they don’t know if the audience is a full house or just their mom (Hi Mom!). That’s what blogging has been like for me. I don’t know if people are there, enjoying what I’m putting forward – or if I’m just writing for my #1 fan, my mom.
As I wrote the college post, the potential pointlessness compounded my frustration, and tensions rose. I couldn’t get the post how I wanted it. The balance was off. It was too long. Nobody was going to read it anyways – the audience was probably empty. What was the point of trying?
I wanted to select all and delete. I wanted to trash the post.
But then: Don’t throw your bake in the bin!
This is an area I’ve improved a lot (I’m probably 15+ years out from my last board game flip!), but I’m still so excited to have the phrase “don’t throw your bake in the bin!” to pattern interrupt my frustration. From that interruption, I thought of Paul’s words, “We could have tested that”, and wondered if I had anything undeserving of the “delete” button.
Did I have a problem with my idea? No.
Did I have a problem with my ability to write? No.
Did I have a problem with balance? Yes.
I decided not to throw my proverbial bake in the bin. I didn’t want to end up with regret like I have in the past and like Ian did on the show. Unlike him, I had the luxury of not being on a timed baking show – I could take a break and come back fresh, so that’s just what I did.
After my break I got the post to a place where I was really happy, and I was especially thankful I didn’t delete everything! It even ended up with a comment – so it turns out there were people in the audience after all!
The episode ended with a contestant named Kate wisely saying, “I’ve learned never to throw your bakes in the bin.”
I’m grateful to have learned the same thing!
I hope now you have too. 🙂
What about you? Are you levelheaded with frustration, or are you (like me?) sometimes tempted to throw your bake in the bin?