Until February of this year, Ari and I participated in a weekly ritual called Inquiry Group (IQ for short). In IQ, we would assemble in groups of eight people to discuss patient cases written by our professors for whatever discipline we were studying. For instance, Down syndrome for genetics, Crohn’s for gastrointestinal, heart failure for physiology. And diabetes for everything. I was talking to a female classmate at the end of one of our blocks, and she said that her preceptor left the women in her group some unique feedback.
“Ladies,” he said, “you do great research and you present yourselves very well. However, when you make a statement or get up to the whiteboard to illustrate something, you preamble it by saying ‘this probably isn’t right,’ or ‘I may be making this up.’ You’re not willing to commit to what you’re saying, even though it is usually correct. Stop pre-apologizing. The lack of confidence dismisses your contribution before you even share it.”
These words stayed with me because I realized I live my life that way. In medical school, I’m loath to assert my opinion or be the most confident person in a group. Deference is usually yielded to a male classmate, and I don’t blame him for taking over in the wake of my own silence. The same goes for cooking — I tend to serve people my food, including this cheesecake, with a side of limp, overcooked regret. “This really didn’t turn out how I meant it,” or “you’re not going to like it.” I convince myself that if I’m the first person to hold myself back or self-disparage, then no one else will have to do it.
I’m declaring today the last day of apologies. I can still admit when I’m wrong, but until then I’m going to be proud of my work in the hospital and proud of the food I make because I did both with all of the knowledge I have and everything I’m capable of. It’s both the easiest and the hardest way to become better at something–to dismiss the master critic crouching inside your own head.
Ingredients (adapted from rsarahl on food.com. Although the topping is mine!)
- 1 lb soft silken tofu
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- zest of two lemons
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
- 2 tablespoons soymilk (or regular milk)
- 1/2 packet gelatin (one of my additions. skip this for a less solid and more creamy result, I suspect)
- 1 pre-made graham pie crust
- 2 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, and at least 8 strawberries for the compote