I’ve always had an interest in baking, ever since I was a little girl and we would go out as a family blackberry picking in the country fields at the back of our childhood home. I remember the tinged red fingers of mine, as I would pull at the prickly branches and pull off a juicy blackberry. We would fill bowls full of the berries until they were bursting full. My Mum would then turn our pickings into the juiciest blackberry and apple pie.
In my early twenties, I suddenly started wanting to bake myself. I began with the supermarket easy cupcake boxes, and then worked my way up into making bigger cakes and homemade cupcakes using any baking books I could get my hands on.
Then last year, I realised that I was using the same recipes repeatedly. I had a particular recipe book that I loved, most of the recipes inside it I had tried I had loved, so I decided to set myself a challenge.
It was the New Year and I was fed up of failing at my New Year’s Resolutions, so I set myself one I couldn’t fail, one I was determined to see through.
I decided that by the end of last year, I was to have tried each recipe in this particular baking book once and have the whole book completed by the end of the year. 82 recipes. It seemed easy to begin with, I started with one a week until I realised that wasn’t enough and it soon became 2-3 a week.
But I kept going. I achieved it. Not only did I do all of these, but I also baked numerous birthday cakes and even did my brother’s wedding cake.
It was something that I was ‘OK’ at, but by the end of the year, my confidence with baking had grown and I was thoroughly enjoying it. People loved my creations and would look forward to whatever I had to bake the next week. There were some that didn’t quite go to plan but I kept at it.
I realised that this hobby was giving me more than just yummy treats to enjoy. It was giving me a boost. It was helping me realise that I wasn’t just ‘Mum’ anymore, that I didn’t fail at everything. I started to believe in myself more and realised that actually, I was quite good at this.
This is a classic case of practise making perfect. I wasn’t the best baker to begin with, but by the end I was much better. The challenge really did help me to become a star baker, perhaps not by the Great British Bake Off standards, but by my own.
I had found something that I really enjoyed, a challenge to rise up to each and every week. A release from the mundane everyday life and routine- it became my escapism and happy place.
If you want to test yourself too, why not give yourself a challenge like I did? Maybe cooking new dinners is more your thing, or learning how to make cocktails. Just grab a recipe book and work through it bit by bit. Before you know it, you’ve learnt a skill and created a hobby which has meaning.
If baking or cooking isn’t your thing, this can apply to anything. Maybe you enjoy nail art? Download an app and try a new design each week. Or maybe you want to learn a new instrument? Whatever the case may be, find yourself a hobby, find yourself a challenge and don’t give up.
It will make you so much more confident in your chosen hobby, and you will feel extremely accomplished by the end of the time period you set yourself. This is a great self-esteem booster, too.
-Gayleen Hodson. firstname.lastname@example.org
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