I was scrolling through TikTok the other day when I happened upon a post by one of my favorite creators, fatty_long_legs.
I was initially drawn to his videos because, to be honest, I found him attractive.
I am about as deep as a puddle. I own that.
But, I hit that ‘follow’ button and I kept watching because he’s also very sincere. I love his honesty and his authenticity as he talks about life as a recovering addict, a father, and a gay man.
If you are on ‘the TikTok’ I would highly recommend following him.
Recently, he posted a video about something that I thought would resonate with anyone who not only struggles with their anxiety symptoms in general but is feeling particularly ramped up lately for reasons I won’t belabor in this post.
He told a story about making a cheesecake for his mom while she was going through chemo. She’d had a craving and asked him to make one. Being a good son, he obliged. As he made it, he found himself getting frustrated. It didn’t seem right to him that he was doing something so insignificant while his mother was dying.
She’s okay, by the way.
He called a friend so that he could lament the fact that he was baking while his mom was dealing with a literal life and death issue. His friend listened to him rant, and then said,
“And you will make the best *expletive* cheesecake ever because that’s what you’re supposed to do. THAT’S the role you’ve been given.”
We’ve all been in this situation, where the world – either in general or our personal universe – seems to be falling apart and we’re doing something that doesn’t seem worthy of gravity at the moment.
What if we all realized at that moment we were in the exact role that we were supposed to play, and instead of searching for something bigger, more important, or more significant, we played that role like we were embodying the spirit of Meryl Streep?
What if we all just made the best *expletive* cheesecake ever?
Consider the act of making a casserole for someone when they and/or their family are going through a significant loss. It’s a tradition so deeply embedded in our DNA that it is the one thing that generations of people regardless of race, religion, culture, or socioeconomic status do whenever someone dies. Because at that moment, with everything falling apart, the one need that can be met is for nourishment and comfort, in the form of a covered dish.
Fatty_long_legs went on to explain that he has learned that whenever he tries to step out of the role he’s supposed to play, he gets tired. He said,
“I get tired when I start trying to reach beyond the role that I have been cast in. To direct and control things that ultimately I cannot control.”
He goes on to explain that the biggest struggle of his sobriety is embracing the fact that he is powerless over anything and everyone except for himself.
Substitute the word ‘sobriety’ with ‘anxiety’ and notice how much accepting that same fact changes your mindset. In fact, one of the things that Katy and Laura emphasize in their Know Your Arc® process is the importance of staying in your own lane in order to prevent anxiety symptoms from appearing
That can be easier said than done.
People who struggle with their anxiety tend to be perfectionists by nature. If they can’t be all things to all people then they have FAILED.
This is called ‘Black and White’, or ‘All or Nothing’ Thinking. A cognitive distortion guaranteed to ramp up anxiety symptoms.
Focusing on the things that you can control means that you can do those things to the best of your ability. Finding productive things that you can do that are also in your wheelhouse is not only the best thing that you can do for the people you love, it’s the role you were literally born to play.
That coffee you brought over to the neighbor who just had a baby. The errand you ran for your aunt who can’t risk going out in public. The two hours you spent sitting with your best friend while she cried over a breakup.
That cheesecake you made your mom. That’s your role. At that moment, it’s the most important role you will play.
When my mom was going through her own battle with cancer, a neighbor offered to come over and rub her feet. It seemed like an odd offer at the time, but it was something that my mom, who was feeling crappy during her own chemo treatments, loved. Not only did it feel fantastic, but she also got to have a meaningful conversation with another human being and for that brief time, she wasn’t a woman with cancer.
The world that was my mom and in essence my entire family was teetering on the brink of collapse and this beautiful soul walked down the street from her house to ours and spent an afternoon helping her neighbor feel better.
My mom has been gone for nearly 20 years, and I still remember Alice’s act of kindness, because, at that moment, she played her role like a trained Shakespearean actress.
When everything around us feels so big and sometimes so very terrifying, we need to remember that we already have what we need to make it through. It’s not about solving the world’s problems, it’s about doing what you can, when you can, for yourself and the people you care about.
So when you feel like the world is on fire, and all that you can do is make a cheesecake, put on that apron, get out those ingredients, and make the best *expletive* cheesecake ever.