Lesson 1. It's important to be scared.
One of the major changes that happened this year was that I switched from my original and intended field of study in school to a different one altogether, basically upsetting every plan I'd ever made for myself within linguistics. When I confessed to one of my advisors how deathly scared I am of being in this new field, she calmly said to me, "Being scared is good for you, Stephanie. You need it."
My advisor, as usual, was completely right. Being scared really kicked my once-lazy butt into gear. And, having to constantly face up to and overcome things that scare me taught me that, when I put my mind to it, nothing is insurmountable, even if it may seem that way initially. Sure, I'm still pretty terrified about my new position in linguistics, but the important thing is that I'm not petrified by it.
Lesson 2. Hard work pays off.
Growing up, my mom always accused me of skating by on "talent," that I never worked hard for anything I did. And I can admit now that she was right. But lacking "talent" in this new field of study I'm in, having to play catch-up this late in my graduate career, and being plain ol' scared forced me to work harder this year than I've ever, ever worked before. (Side effect, though: sleeping less than I've ever, ever slept before...!) Practice and dedication, it turns out, can make up for a lot.
For example, at the beginning of one of my school terms this year, I remember being so afraid and so intimated by this one professor that I seriously considered dropping out of her workshop because I thought that I just didn't know enough about the topic to keep going. Thankfully I didn't, because by the end of the term, I'd learned and practiced so much that I could carry on a proper and in-depth conversation on the topic with the professor and offer insights that she hadn't thought of! That was one of the best and exciting moments of 2010 for me--realizing that through all of the late nights and painful work, I'd actually improved!
Lesson 3. Be super thankful for the people around you.
I would have never, ever gotten through the vicissitudes of 2010 if it weren't for the incredible support of those around me. At every point throughout the year when things took a turn for the worst, someone always stepped in to help me out of it, making me realize how unspeakably lucky I am to have an invaluable support structure to lean on when I need it most. Now more than ever, I am appreciative of people who have faith in me even when I don't: just knowing that someone out there believes in me forces me to work harder and try to live up to that expectation. It's the one of the best motivators! (On a related note, never let nay-sayers get you down, either!)
For the final recipe of 2010, I really wanted to make macarons because they represent to me a perfect embodiment of the lessons that I've learned this year. I started out 2010 making successful macarons before I had read very much about them. Then, as I started reading more and more about macarons and hearing about how fickle they are, they became incredibly intimidating to me. Suddenly, every batch that I pulled out of the oven was a huge failure--cracked tops, sunken tops, lack of feet, under-baked, completely brown--you name it, it happened. Finally, I just gave up and stopped making macs altogether.
One day, I realized how foolish it was of me to completely abandon macaron making just because I was scared of them, and I decided that I would make macarons and only macarons until I got them perfect again. It turns out that what happened was that I'd memorized the recipe wrong, (stupidly) placing the rack in the wrong section of the oven, but even after I figured that out, I kept practicing batch after batch until the macaron shells came out consistently and to my liking. And now, I can make macarons.
These grapefruit and white chocolate macarons (grapefruit shells with white chocolate buttercream and grapefruit curd) are for you all--a little tart and sweet (just like 2010 was) to accompany your midnight flutes of champagne--as a thank you for all of the support that you've given me on the blog this year! It's truly been an extraordinary year, and knowing that there are people out there that I can share my love of desserts with (even virtually) is always a comfort for me and makes me so happy! :-D! So, thank you! and Happy New Year to everyone! May 2011 bring us even more valuable lessons--and more importantly, even more delicious sweets and eats!
In 2010, I...
stayed in the Northern California redwoods--one of my favorite places on earth--for a week.
was cited for the first time in an academic journal.
submitted my first academic article for review.
posted 12 different pancake recipes.
had Korean fried chicken to celebrate Hanukkah.
Read on for recipe...