I often feel pressure to know lots of things, to be talented and achieve success. Pressure to have lots of skills, develop new skills, read more books, essentially to become a superhuman with enough knowledge to overwhelm Wikipedia. To overwhelm myself. The pressure to know a lot and do a lot is really stressful, it makes me feel small. I end up thinking that I know nothing and cannot do anything.
I find that I will prevent myself from trying new things simply because I feel like I have to be good at them to even try. Which is backwards. Obviously, if you have never tried something before you probably will not be good at it the first time or maybe even the fiftieth time. For example, something trivial, in quarantine my partner and I started playing video games. I did not grow up with an xbox, so after a week of playing I found myself getting increasingly frustrated by the fact that I could hardly drive, let alone score in the game. It’s a simple thing to learn, but I find that this frustration not only discourages me from continuing to play the game but it creates loops in my head that deter me from playing other video games. Further, it creates a mental story. I tell myself that trying new things is not fun or successful or fulfilling unless I am good at said activity. Translate this story across the many activities where I am not successful, and I feel totally incompentent. I caught myself in this brain loop and realized that it was completely irrational.
Turn to the kitchen. I love to cook, so taking on challenges in the kitchen has never seemed daunting or overwhelming. For me, it’s fun. I was reminded of my willingness to attempt challenges, and I realized that I can take the lessons I learned in the kitchen and carry them with me when I leave. Today I present a recipe for soft scrambled eggs. This recipe made me reflect on my own ability to persevere. Although it is only eggs, the recipe takes a practiced hand and will not turn out perfectly the first time. Do not let this discourage you because I promise the end results are worth it, for more then one reason.
The key to soft scrambled eggs is the technique. Although it is a very simple recipe with few ingredients, to make soft scrambled eggs you have to practice.
1 glug of oil (~2tsp)
Salt and pepper to season
Small to medium frying pan (non-stick is good)
Whisk or a rubber spatula
Start by whisking at least two eggs to thoroughly combine the yolk and the whites. There should be no ribbons of egg white in the mix, fully combined eggs please.
Although this technique can be used on more than two eggs at once, I recommend using no more than four on the first attempt. Two eggs will be much more manageable and easier to learn with.
Season with salt and pepper now before the eggs begin their cooking journey.
This cooking method uses low and slow heat so start a frying pan on the stove over medium low and add an oil of your choice.
Make sure to read this entire section before you put your eggs in the pan…
Over low heat add the eggs to the pan and use a spatula or a whisk to stir constantly and consistently. Never stop stirring the eggs. Alternate small circles and figure-eight motions.
The goal is to keep the eggs from forming any sort of sheet on the bottom or sides of the pan and create a consistent porridge like texture (think cream of wheat).
First the eggs will become an evenly colored opaque liquid, you might notice the liquid starting to thicken. As you continue to cook the eggs will start to form small curdles throughout the liquid. Eventually all the eggs will congeal together to form a slightly lumpy looking blob. I know it sounds gross but stay with me. You’ll know the eggs are done when they are in blob form, shiny, and look moist but not wet or runny. Although it may look like the eggs are undercooked, they are cooked and consumable.
I want to emphasize technique with this recipe, if this is your first attempt you can turn the heat down even lower to slow the process. The idea here is constant movement of the eggs to form small curdles instead of the large curdles that traditional scrambled eggs yield. The technique will take practice but the result is fluffy, creamy, luxurious eggs.
It was this recipe that got me thinking about the benefits of perseverance. The first couple times I attempted soft scrambled eggs they were okay, and I liked them enough to keep attempting it. Ten to twenty breakfasts later and I could complete the recipe with ease, and the texture of the eggs had improved. There are two things to note here: I did not set out with the intention of improving my soft scrambled eggs. This in turn relieved me of the pressure to make perfectly scrambled eggs, thus I was not discouraged when they were less than perfect, I just kept trying. Secondly, I was willing to attempt something I had never done before without the fear of failure. Soft scrambled eggs are not a huge challenge, but the exercise of trying something new and working to improve it reminded me that I am capable of learning new skills or knowledge. Learning how to make soft scrambled eggs reminded me to not be so hard on myself, to keep trying. Most importantly it emphasized that continued effort will eventually lead to improvement.
Perseverance has to do with continued patient effort and determination despite opposition or failure. Learning perseverance is everything. In life it is rare when things turn out exactly as expected, perseverance teaches how to keep moving forward towards goals. It is hard and may take many failures to develop.
This might seem far-fetched, I’m really only talking about a simple egg recipe, but simply by going through the process of watching myself improve over many trials I was reminded that this is how life goes. I was reminded that being successful is a lot less about talent and a lot more about practice. I try to take this knowledge I have learned in the kitchen and remember it when I’m trying to learn how to play video games or trying to grasp the concepts in my cognitive psychology course, or even making soft scrambled eggs.