Hello, my name is Piper and I am a binge watcher.
In 2017, it's hard to find anyone who wouldn't [way too] proudly label themselves one. With fascinating inventions like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon at our fingertips, why would we waste our time doing something legitimately productive when we can plant ourselves on the couch and watch twelve hours straight of The Great British Baking Show? Not that I'm speaking from experience. Calm down.
But now that I've set up that pretty segue, let's talk a little more about that show. Just to give you an inkling of how much this show has consumed my life: at the height of finals week this year (the pinnacle of stress and mental exhaustion), I definitely spent 75% of my time watching TGBBS when I absolutely could have been studying. So if I don't pull an A in my history class I'll be blaming it on Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, which are the real life names of the judges on that show, by the way. This show is incredible because not only is everyone on it British, but everyone is so nice. Contestants are always helping each other out and hugging and giving each other cute, British compliments. It's like all of Canada got together to create a baking show but with British accents!!! This is a fresh change of pace from American cooking shows where 11-year-olds are forced to use a blowtorch or risk crushed dreams and elimination. However, not only has this show sucked away hours of my life in the best way possible, it has also inspired me. There is a wonderful person in my life who had a birthday a couple weeks ago, and I could not for the life of me figure out what to get as a gift. So in lieu of spending money I don't have on something I wasn't satisfied with, I decided to bake a cake from scratch.
SIDENOTE: BAKING FROM SCRATCH IS MAD EXPENSIVE, ENTER AT YOUR (WALLET'S) OWN RISK.
The aforementioned wonderful person's favorite flavor of ice cream is Rocky Road, so I thought it best to try and make a Rocky Road Cake. It. Took. All. Day. Fam--baking a cake from scratch is about as easy as baking a cake from scratch.* My main issue was that it was supposed to be three layers and I only had one pan so I had to bake each of the layers individually, which was probably not the most efficient way to do it. I also made homemade icing, a filling, and chocolate fondant. Call Food Network. I'm ready for Chopped.
One flour-covered kitchen, chocolate-stained shirt, and gallon or two of sweat and flour later, the cake was finished. And I was actually pretty pleased with how it came out. It looked nearly perfect from the outside. Key phrase: from the outside. The layers got a little wonky because the pan I used was too big and there wasn't enough batter, but I managed to pull it off with a little knife work and some cleverly placed icing. So from the outside the cake looked even and smooth, but on the inside the layers were uneven and, in the words of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, "the layers were not quite defined."
Not to be That Person™, but this whole cake facade thing reminded me a little bit of human beings. Especially with this generation's affinity for social media and "branding," we have become very accustomed to decorating our lives to seem like something they're not. We use a knife to carefully cut away some "bad" parts to seem a little more even. We use icing to fill in the holes and missing pieces to hide them from people. We use marshmallows and chocolate fondant to distract from the uglier bits.
All it takes is a well-posed shot on Instagram to seem like we had a better weekend than everyone else surrounded by better friends than everyone else's. Or a cleverly-crafted tweet to make us appear to be the perfect combination of witty, carefree, and #relatable. Creating a facade for yourself is so accessible nowadays that it has become second nature to us. I feel like it is important to take a step back once in a while and acknowledge that no ones icing matches their layers. It is absurd how often I have to remind myself of this. It is equally absurd how often I have succumbed to the decoration of myself or my life.
I love my life, and I have been obscenely blessed by the people and opportunities in it. However, it is by no means as consistently magical as it may seem on social media (ps I actually have no idea if my life seems magical, so if it seems as mundane and boring as it actually is then you can ignore this part). I struggle on the daily with all kinds of things. I don't advertise them, though. No one does.
I have days when I fight with the people I love. I have days where I cannot stand to look in the mirror. I also have days I cry for no reason at all. I have more of those days than I'd like to admit. Chances are, someone you think has lived zero of those days has suffered from too many to count. It's just not something people talk about. I would probably be shipped off to a psych ward if I tweeted or Instagrammed about all the times I was on the verge of a mental breakdown, so I don't. Instead, I might post a picture of some dope flowers I saw at Trader Joes. Most of us do it without even realizing it. If you have a rad picture in great lighting of you having fun with your friends and you have a blurry picture of you just sitting in your room in low lighting, which are you more likely to post? That's just how things are.
It doesn't have to be.
I want to try and break down that stigma, even if just for a moment. Everyone is going through something, whether it be big or small. It has appalled me how many times I have stumbled upon the reality that someone who I thought had a struggle-free life actually did not. Just because someone's life looks perfect in pictures does not mean their life is picture perfect. We all have uneven layers and cut up pieces and cracks and crumbs everywhere. We're all a little bit messy. I'm not here to tell you how to bake your layers perfectly or how to pipe your icing just right, but I am here to say you're not alone. Maybe that sounds a little contrived, but that's what I've decided this has been all about.
Also The Great British Baking Show.
*I'm not very good with similes and also I'm lazy
**Fun fact: I figured out how to turn the comments on here so if you hate this, you can let me know now! Enjoy!
pictured: the cheesiest smile you will ever see because I was very proud of this cake thank you very much