At the halfway point of preparing pastry or cake for the oven, it always looks like a bowl of shit. Even if it’s a recipe I’ve made already, like shortcrust pastry, there’s enough randomness involved that it’s unclear if I’ve done it right this time.

This makes me feel stress.

I’m making a crappy failure, I half-consciously tell myself, therefore I’m a crappy failure, and so on. It doesn’t matter that there’s nothing much on the line here, because I’ve invested a bit of my identity in being able to make something good, so it’s hard to just let it go.

I only started noticing those feelings in the last few months because of a presentation by a colleague, Grace Nolan. The way I’d summarise it is by saying that our day jobs as software engineers generate the same type of stress, and a hobby (like cooking, or painting) lets you practice dealing with it.

The presentation is on YouTube. It’s great. You should watch it.