This past Sunday afternoon, I made Ricotta gnocchi entirely from scratch. I was standing alone in my kitchen for a few hours, carefully mixing, kneading, and shaping. Entranced by that methodical rhythm, I had ample time to reflect. I cook primarily because I am truly present in the process of making, second only to cooking because well, I love to eat.
My mind wandered to years past. I took an inventory of all that I have come to believe today, as a woman, but would have gladly known as a younger person. As I shaped each gnocco, I retreated further and further.
I tend to show love with food, because food tastes better than words, but consoles heart and soul just the same. Oftentimes I search for meaning through making and sharing food. So with floury hands and a mess of dough and cheese, I crafted a letter; here is what I remember of it, jumbled but sincere.
One of the only concepts you will consistently have to concern yourself with regarding your actions and beliefs is "are they honorable". Forget the remaining periphery. You do not have to seek assurance, or confirmation that being as you are is ok. Every nuance is another thread in your beautiful and unique tapestry.
Hold on to your aspirations and views but do not try to change others. Not everyone is the same and they shouldn't be. It takes all kinds of kinds. Focus instead on the joy that remains, and the commonalities between you and the next person. There are more than you think.
Has worrying changed your life at all? Has anything been different? No matter what you do and how you act, someone, somewhere will have a problem with you, and that's ok. Know your worth, but stay humble. You are no better nor worse than the next person. If you find yourself displeased, keep fighting to find what will bring you peace.
Let go of resentment and hostility as these emotions are tiring and harvest more stress and negativity. Re-evaluate your priorities and focus on what is actually important. When you are fifteen, life seems volatile but it gets better. A few eggs that crack become part of something bigger; it will make sense in years to come.
You're not perfect, but certainly not awful so lighten up on yourself. Know your audience, know your aggressor, and get to know yourself most importantly. Learn where you can thrive and where you should take a step back. This will take lots of practice, blunders, and awkward encounters. Remember to laugh in the process. Everyone wants to feel worthy. Everyone is striving to gain ground.
Fatigue, discontent, anxiety, impatience, and sadness happen. Do not always attach a value judgment to them. They just are, and will pass like all things good and bad eventually do. Do not assume that fallibility is a weakness and the tendencies that make us most human are unacceptable. If you do so, you're holding yourself to impossible standards. Figments of our minds are the greatest rivals.
Be content to experience things for yourself. The world is yours for the living. You are not exactly alike any other human being on this planet so why feel like you have to completely align with anyone’s sentiments. Not even the people you love. You can retreat into the depths of your mind every so often, but be sure to come up for air. Change the tune and go on.
There is value in sharing experiences and communicating. More people feel like you than you would think; you're not alone. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and move on. You are not entrusted with ensuring anyone else’s ultimate happiness. Only you can control your own happiness. Remember that when you are trying to please everyone else.
Today is another beginning, and the present is all we ever actually have. Everything else has already taken place or will in the future. Meet it when it comes, or think fondly on times past but do not neglect the present, it is fleeting.
Lastly, make time for dinner with your family and friends. Coffee chats, games of monopoly into the wee hours of the morning, and summer nights with ice cream. They will affect you greatly and shape the woman you are to become.