About a year ago, after another long Ask-The-Google-Gods-What-My-Future-Holds sessions while frantically texting my friend Amber, I decided that I was going to go to pastry school. For a few years I had been covertly posing questions to my parents, like “What would you say to me if I didn’t utilize my expensive education and just went to cooking school?” Most of the time I didn’t really mean it, but it was still a tiny little seedling of a thought.
But then I decided that it wasn’t just a thought, it was my dream. So I started looking into programs and I started bringing it up with family and friends as a way to process the information and gather the opinions of the people who were important to me.
And you know what kind of response I got?
A weird one. Everyone I talked to fit into one of four categories. The first small minority group–mostly my immediate family–was supportive. They accepted me and told me to follow my dreams, yadda yadda yadda. The second group–mostly my Japanese friends–were supportive in an overly enthusiastic, I-can’t-believe-you-are-brave-enough-to-actually-go-after-the-career-you-want-and-I’m-amazed-and-jealous-plus-you-will-make-a-great-wife kind of way. I’m really not kidding that my interest in pastry equated good wife material to like every Japanese friend that I talked to….but that is a topic for another time! The third group was supportive in a well-this-is-the-fourth-or-so-career-choice-in-the-last-few-years-its-probably-a-phase-but-I’m-still-happy-for-you-if-you-are-happy. This group was mostly friends from childhood and family friends–people who know me well enough and have known me long enough to support me in whatever phase I am in–even while they think it might be or probably is a passing phase.
Then came the last group. The overwhelming majority of people that I talked to about my plans. And from them I received a kind of patronizing placation. Most of the time I could almost hear their inner self shaking their head and rolling their eyes, as they outwardly said “This is a great time to try something new” but actually meant “Ah the whims of youth….what a waste of your degree from a good, private university in the US and all of your money, but at least after this idea crashes and burns you will still be young enough to find a real career.”
Okay so maybe it wasn’t always quite that extreme, but you get the point. People were surprisingly hesitant when I brought up my plans for pastry school, and I always felt like I needed to convince them or that I needed to prove that I had a long term plan and that this was actually going to work in my favor. I felt like someone who’s parents wanted them to go to medical school and they dropped out of college and moved to LA to try to be an actress.
But its my dream, so why should I have to convince the people around me that it is worthy of pursuing?
In the last year I have realized two things. (And this is going to get cheesy so if that makes you want to throw up–yes I’m talking to the English majors out there–you may want to stop reading or go find a trash can.) One, actions speak louder than words. When I spoke with people, when I told people that I wanted to go to pastry school, they would mostly nod and say something vague like “good for you” or “its a good time to figure things out.” They heard what I had to say, but they didn’t understand. Now, after a year of doing my best to work on my blog, push my boundaries in the kitchen, and to share those experiences very publicly here, on social media platforms and in person, I get a very different response. When I get introduced to new people, I am often introduced as someone who is great at baking or as someone who loves to cook. Even just in the last week I have been sitting with a group of people and someone will whip out their phone and show someone else my pictures on Facebook without me even bringing it up. One of my friends thought that my post about Stamped Sugar Cookies (recipe to come!) was an advertisement for Caribou Coffee and she was shocked when I gave her some and told her that I made them. People–whether they are family or friends, Japanese or not, new friends or old–now tell me that I need to go to pastry school, that I need to skip pastry school and just open a bakery, that I need to sell my baked goods out of my apartment. I don’t need to use my words to tell people that I want to go to pastry school, because my actions have demonstrated the depth of my dream and it is clear even without my words what I intend to do. On one hand it is too bad that words aren’t enough, but on the other hand it is a valuable lesson to learn that most of the time people need some sort of visual representation and action to go along with those words.
Two, and more importantly, it is important not to let the opinions of others drown out or cover up your inner voice. Of course hearing people around me–people who I respected and admired–treating my admission of pastry school plans with what can really only be described as condescension was very hard. I have had many moments of doubt about my plans, and knowing that other people thought I was being a foolish youth didn’t help. But I listened to the little voice inside of me rather than the loud voices around me, and now here I am, with the voices around me supporting and agreeing with the voice inside of me. I can only imagine what would have happened had I let the opinions of others cover up my own, and had I let that influence me I may have been on a very different path that very well could have been someone else’s dream and not my own.
Sorry, I know, that was super corny. >_<
Anyway, I just wanted to talk about how grateful I am now that I have so many amazing people supporting me along my journey, and I hope that friends or strangers reading this who are likewise trying to make a hard life decision can gather strength from knowing that it is okay to choose your own dreams and that people will come around once they realize how important it is to you.
This topic is on my mind because I am actually leaving in two weeks to study in Annecy, France for one month–which for me is the first step outside of my standard path of education so far that will purposefully lead me down a path towards my future dreams. In Annecy I will be studying French four hours a day every day, so get ready for travel pictures and more cheesy musings on life rather than baking adventures in the near future!
Thanks for reading and stop back soon for more adventures in and out of the kitchen! ^_^