Risks and Change and the New Year

I don’t like change. Surprise, surprise.

I know not all change is bad. Change is necessary for growth and opportunity. I welcome the changing of the seasons, well all except that pesky winter, but when it comes to major life changes, my breath catches in my chest and I sit on the verge of tears.

This last year was full of change. I changed jobs; having grown out of the position, I was ready to tackle something different. But this change, however scary it was, was necessary.

Now, on the precipice of another big change, I’m trying to stay positive, acknowledging the adjustment period and focusing on the good things this change will bring.

Chef Boyfriend is leaving his job for something new. But in addition to saying goodbye to working the line, being available 24 hours a day, and managing the expectations of harried customers, he’s also saying goodbye to being home most weeknights. He needs this change. After working for the same family for 8 years, he’s ready for new challenges and I really am trying to focus on that. But instead, my mind wanders to thoughts of missing him and, worse yet, having to cook and eat dinner alone.

And it strikes me as odd, the fact that I don’t embrace change considering how important the process of change is to cooking.

Cooking is all about change. Relies on change. Amino acids and reducing sugars react to the heat of the stove to leave flank steak seared and when you taste that Maillard reaction, it’s pleasing. Color is flavor. That magic moment when sugar diluted in water changes so slightly and is no longer simple syrup, but is caramel. So why can I embrace those necessary chemical reactions in the kitchen, but am scared when it enters other realms of my life?

Honestly, it’s easy to take risks with food. Try new and unexpected things, because at the end of the day it’s just cake. And I’m lucky enough to be able to experiment with chocolate, eggs, flour. I see something on a menu, in a magazine, on the cover of a cookbook and I know I have the skills to figure it out. And if I don’t, it’s no big deal.

But there are other risks I long to take, risks that take me outside the safety of my kitchen.

Writing is a passion and when I get started, I lose time, getting lost in the flow of my own thoughts. But consistent writing has never been a strength of mine. And, considering my blog archive is maybe 6 entries deep, you can tell blogging isn’t my strong suit either. When I get an idea, I thought I wish to share with others it’s quickly followed by two thoughts: what if no one reads it? And even worse, what if somebody does?

There are smaller risks that scare me, too. I’d love to take a tap class but the unknowns of that simple action stop me cold. What do I wear? Where will I park? Who do I talk to when I get there? Will other people have friends in the class?

At the end of this string of thoughts is the knowledge that my generalized anxiety disorder is getting the better of me. In any new situation, I can ask questions because no one is expected to know everything the first time they try something. I know this.

So, though it’s a few days late, here’s a New Years mantra: embrace change. It’s going to be hard. I’m not expecting to smile in the face of every change I encounter this year. I’m not even going to try to take every risk or new opportunity that comes around. I know I won’t write daily right out of the gate. I know I won’t walk into a tap class and feel completely comfortable the first time. Or the third, or the tenth…if I can manage to go at all.

But I can try. And I can be open to failing. And I can be okay with failure.