Anxiety is the pits. As someone who has struggled with anxiety since I was in middle school, I can tell you now that it extends into every aspect of my life – including the kitchen. Did I remember to turn the stove off? Did I accidentally get a hair in that batch of cookies I'm serving to my colleagues? It's that not-so welcome friend that is always in my life. The daily struggle is real.
Anxiety affects everybody differently. Anxiety can be brought on in social situations, it can be triggered by something specific, or it can seemingly come out of nowhere. But when it comes to the kitchen and cooking, there are a few key things I bet every anxious cook can somewhat identify with. Can you relate?
1. Accidentally leaving the stove or oven on.
It can hit you at any time. You're at work, maybe, and all of sudden a creeping dread comes over you and you can't physically remember turning off the stove after you made oatmeal that morning. Do you go home to double check? Call a roommate? Or wait it out and panic about it all day until you get home? It's probably fine, but who can really say?
2. Getting a hair in something you're serving people.
You made a batch of cookies last night and decide to take the leftovers to work. As your coworker bites down on the first cookie, a sweeping dread comes over you. Are you sure you didn't get any stray hairs in the cookie batter? What if that coworker end up choking on a piece of hair and everyone in the office gets super annoyed with you?
3. Undercooking your meat.
You like your meat on the medium to rare side, but you're always worried that it's secretly undercooked. You check the internal temperature, you take a bite, and everything seems fine. But are you sure it's OK? It kinda tastes a little off, but is that all in your head?
4. Unknowingly poisoning your food.
You get nervous that you're going to improperly can something, and you get a mini panic attack at the idea of botulism. What about that ingredient that's in the back of the fridge? Will you die if you eat it?
5. When someone says they like what you made.
So you had a couple friends over for dinner, and one of them makes a comment after you're done eating that "the food was super delicious." Are they just trying to be nice? Are they secretly lying and don't know what else to say? What are you supposed to say in return?
6. When someone says nothing about what you made.
You cook a simple meal for a friend that comes over (you've had this in the calendar for weeks, by the way). The meal ends, you pour them another glass of wine, and they never compliment you on your cooking skills. Rude! But also, what if they actually hated the meal? What if you're secretly an awful cook and everyone who has said otherwise was just trying to be nice?
7. Accidentally cutting yourself with your knife.
You're comfortable with your knife as you chop an onion. Maybe too comfortable. What if you're not paying attention for one second and the knife slips and you accidentally cut your finger? What if it's worse than that? Should you even be allowed to hold a knife?
8. Too many things in a kitchen outlet.
You try to plug your rice cooker into the only outlet in your kitchen, and you suddenly realize your outlet is already full. You know your roommates have probably had everything plugged in all day. What if there had been a fire? How are you going to go about confronting your roommates? What if they think you're overreacting and want to kick you out of the apartment?
9. Second-guessing an added ingredient to a recipe.
You decide to kick things up a notch when you're cooking mid-recipe and add a new spice into the mix. You've done this with other recipes so it should be OK, right? A couple minutes later you start second-guessing this decision and wonder if you should have kept things as they were, just the way you like them.
10. Trying to come up with a recipe for a potluck.
Your friends decide to host a potluck at their apartment, and you're asked to bring a main dish. How do you go about making that decision? Do you go for something grand where everyone will be in awe? Do you keep it simple and delicious? What if people hate it, and as a result don't like you anymore?