Of Pancakes and New Things

Of Pancakes and New Things


I have no pancake phobias (nor, as a quick Google search revealed, does anyone else in the official “Guess That Phobia!” sort of a way). I have, in fact, happily eaten my fair share of them in my 42+ years. A favourite twist I learned from my mom: swapping the milk with orange juice in the batter. Mmmm! I like them with butter and syrup, with fruit and whipped cream, or cold with some cheese sandwiched between two of them. Mount Pancake from Flickr via Wylio

And yet, up until yesterday morning, I found myself fearful of something pancake-related:

Volunteering as kitchen staff with my coworkers for a pancake breakfast.

Now it’s not that I don’t know the majority of the people I would be working with, sharing office space as we do. It’s not that I don’t know how to make pancakes or scramble eggs or stir beans or heat up sausage patties. But yet, I found myself nervous about doing any and all of those things as the early morning hours of Tuesday, August 19th approached.

I was worried/fearful/whatever word you want to slap on it about messing up. I didn’t want to do something wrong in front of my coworkers. I didn’t want to appear to be incompetent or dumb, I didn’t want to embarrass myself in any way.

It’s a fear I’ve carried around with me for a long time. It’s fuelled many a decision to not fully pursue this or that – what if I get it wrong? So if I stay in what’s safe and comfortable, then I won’t mess it up.

But here’s the thing: I chafe at staying in old, safe routines. Even as changes or new things can make me nervous, something in me still fights against getting or staying stuck in a rut.

If I had begged off volunteering at the pancake breakfast yesterday, I would have missed out on:

  • A joke about management involving doing two things at the same time, and neither of them well.
  •  A story about how one coworker introduced himself to another that made the one turn as red as the apron he was wearing.
  • The discovery that saying certain words with the right amount of verve and confidence will (however briefly) make others think they know the Spanish word for pancake.
  • Learning I can flip pancakes for a good 2.5 hours and not wreck too many of them.
  • Helping to serve 900+ people in the process of raising money for the local food bank.

I had fun. I didn’t necessarily do everything right, but I got out there and was part of a team, and it felt good. And with all that has been and is going on in the world, it was, well, a good thing to be reminded of: That people can come together and do something to help others out, even sharing some laughs long with the way (Anne Lamott has likened laughter to carbonated holiness – she’s onto something there).

So my encouragement to you (and to me) is don’t be scared to do new things, to jump in, get messy, and/or muck things up. Be willing to be corrected, to change as necessary – it’s a part of learning. And it beats sitting on the sidelines, merely wishing you were doing something more.

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