I made a Chocolate Banana Cake tonight, and it took forever to set up (that would mean bake, to you non-bakers, or maybe just to everyone else in the world). I'm thinking maybe I used too much banana (did not measure, just mashed four); maybe the bananas were not ripe enough (usually I use brown ones from the fruit bowl, but I bought these today, at Whole Food [so I could also get Valrhona chocolate], and apparently at Whole Food bananas do not go brown]); maybe I didn't mash them enough. Or rather, I believe I did all those things--too much banana, not ripe enough, insufficiently mashed--and perhaps they are the reason the cake did not set, but combined with the cake not setting (OK, finally it set, but I don't know if it set enough, or if the 20 extra minutes of baking ruined it), they make me very anxious about the cake, which really needs to be a good cake, given its audience.
I have made one bad cake in my life (a Guinness Chocolate, where somehow the baking soda clumped, creating these nasty little nuggets of bitter saltiness, though everyone else who ate it insisted it was delicious, but surely they were just being polite). My neighbor said tonight that the only desserts she likes are my cakes and I am the best baker she knows. Yet every single time I make a cake, I am convinced it is going to be a disaster.
I had lunch with my interns this week, all recent college graduates, trying to find real jobs in fields they want to enter. They pumped me for information and insight: my career trajectory, my advice, my thoughts about them and their prospects. I had lots to say, of course--by now I'm something of a professional jobseeker--but one thing I said, that I used to say, but haven't said in a while, but realized is still true, is that just about every single meaningful job I've ever had has come to me. I would say that I've had nine meaningful jobs in my adult life (along with my fair share of meaningless jobs). In seven of the nine, someone approached me (rather than me applying, or otherwise making the approach). I have been unwillingly out of work for maybe four months of my adult life. Yet I am convinced that I will never find another job, even when I am fully and gainfully employed.
I don't get this attitude--it's more than an attitude: this deepseated conviction--I really don't, and I wish I could make it go away.
(This is completely different from election anxiety which is a combination of superstition and disbelief, based on heritage [Jewish] and recent experience [2004, 2008]. The thing about these convictions, as I've just tried to show, is that not only do they have no basis in experience, but experience shows them to be completely wrong. You would think that I would be able to play my reality principle here--pretend that objective reality is correct, even when you don't believe it--but I seem to be completely incapable of doing so. I know that my life would be immeasurably improved if I could--have faith, that is--and yet, I just can't.)