I’ve read a number of blog posts lately written by young women who are vocal about their battles with confidence and self-esteem. Granted, I don’t consider myself to be old, but I'm no longer twenty and reading their words made me reflect on moments of struggle in my own life and how I worked to improve myself.
I’m pretty sure there is not a person on earth who hasn’t confronted doubt and fear. If Eleanor Rooselvelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you” and Ralph Walden Emerson wrote, “If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me,” we can be fairly certain that these emotions are universal.
That said, it does seem that these feelings are particularly paralyzing for women, especially younger women. Not that men don’t experience similar feelings, but they’re generally raised to handle them differently and frankly most haven’t experienced the whole weight of the culture working against them.
Looking back, I realized that when I was in my twenties I would have loved having a strong female role model in my life who could give me advice and help me navigate through the outside world of work, relationships, finance, etc. Sadly, I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of nice women around me, but they weren’t generally all that confident - even those who were highly educated with decent careers.
On a recent snowy day, I went hiking around Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Ironic, since this where Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden and the now beloved quote “Go with confidence in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
When I came home, I warmed up with some cake and tea and began to think about what advice I'd give if I were mentoring someone in their twenties now. I’ve never been a huge fan of unsolicited advice but let’s face it, there’s wisdom in learning from the experience of others. Since this blog reaches thousands of women a day, I thought it would be fun if we (that’s right, women and men) could share some insight about overcoming doubt and fear.
What in your life has given you courage? What has propelled you forward? What do you tell yourself when you’re about to do something terrifying? I’m asking because I think there are many people who would love to hear your insight. I’m sure a piece of this Coconut and Chocolate Flake cake will help too.
Coconut and Chocolate Flake Cake
8.5 tbs (125 g) butter, unsalted & room temperature
1 1/4 c (275 g) cane sugar
1 tsp (4 g) vanilla
1/2 c (125 g) whole milk
1 1/2 c (185 g) all purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp (10 g) baking powder
1 1/4 c (70 g) sweetened dried coconut
3/4 c (80 g) good quality dark chocolate, shaved
powdered sugar for dusting
Extra flour and butter for cake tin.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180C). Grease and flour an 8” (20 cm) spring form pan. Set aside.
In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Throughly mix in the eggs, vanilla and milk. With mixer at low speed, stir in the flour and baking powder. Just before the flour is incorporated fully add the coconut and shaved chocolate.
Pour the batter into the springform pan and bake until the center springs back to the touch and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 60-90 minutes, depending upon your oven.
Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.