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In November, I started watching Jenna Fischer’s bread baking videos on Instagram, which lead me to ordering Bonnie Ohara’s Bread Baking for Beginners—previously mentioned in my eight-hour no-knead bread post—and diving headfirst into the world of bread baking.
I’d been making bread for a while before then: a bulgur wheat recipe that I got in college and still love; the occasional homemade pizza; one cinnamon-raisin loaf so successful that our dog ate all but one slice in a single go. I love bread (who doesn’t?), and in my years-long effort to become a self-reliant homesteader, bread became one of the skills being added to my repertoire. It wasn’t until November, though, when that perfect book came into my life that my love of the loaf really started to blossom.
Then the pandemic hit, and now everyone and their brother seems to be making bread on Instagram, and I’m not going to lie—I feel a little less cool now.
I can’t begrudge anyone making the best of a bad situation and learning to fend for themselves even in this small way. Making bread is a cool skill and, like I said, who doesn’t love bread? Any time someone mentions to me, even in passing, that they want to learn to bake bread, it’s all I can do to stop myself from shoving a copy of Bread Baking for Beginners into their hands. I would gladly buy a copy for every person I know if I could afford it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t that small part of me, some holdover from being a teenager no doubt, that gets a little disgruntled by the nineteenth photo of bread I scroll past on Instagram in one sitting. (Granted, one sitting could be quite a long time.)
It’s always been a part of my personality, this wanting to be seen as unique in some way or another, but the reality is that it’s near impossible to truly be unique. I might be the only Me in the world, but I’m not the only person who loves to bake, who loves to knit, who loves cats, has a son, is a witch, wears size six and a half shoes, or some combination of any of those traits. And the funny thing is that there are plenty of people who were, say, baking bread before I was and who I thought were cool for doing so—who’s to say I wasn’t that same person to someone else? Who’s to say I’m not still?
Being inside your own head and forgetting to explore other people’s perspectives can be detrimental in so many ways, big and small. We know that seeing the world at large from another person’s point of view can be helpful; that’s something we’re taught in elementary school. But we don’t always remember to think about how our own world, on a personal level, looks to someone else, unless it’s in a self-conscious way.
What if they don’t like what I’m doing?
What do they think of my outfit?
What if I’m too much or not enough?
I think it could be important to start thinking about the positive ways people can see us, the positive effects we can have on others even if we don’t know it’s happening.
Maybe someone will make their own version of this.
I wonder if anyone will have questions.
I’ll add some recommendations in case anyone wants to learn more about this.
The people I admire the most—specifically on Instagram, since that’s where I spend most of my time—are ones I consider cool because I learn from them. They inspire me to try new skills and hobbies, and they inspire me to get better, to do better, to stop worrying so much. If I was baking bread “before it was cool,” then maybe someone saw it, and it inspired them to bake their own. Or maybe it didn’t. But it shouldn’t be a competition either way. Too many things are competitive when they don’t need to be, and I shouldn’t turn bread into another one of those things for no reason other than my own ego. Like the people that I, even in the last year of my twenties, look up to, I need to just do my thing and fuck everything else.
I need to just let them bake bread.