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.
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.