So I started therapy.
It’s been about a month, and I’m still not confident if I’m doing it correctly. My habit of self-judgement is one of many reasons I decided it was time to seek outside help. Self-criticism can be helpful, until it’s not. As a chef you spend most of your time creating, and critiquing, never truly satisfied with the final product. If there is a chef that is 100% satisfied with their work, I haven’t met them yet. I think that’s part of what keeps us coming back, this idea that perfection is attainable. I brought to my career a sense of frustration and dissatisfaction so I am perfectly suited for a life of professional cooking, and I do love my work.
In the last 3 years I have noticed a slow pivot in the culinary and hospitality industry toward a priority of self-care. For too long we’ve lost great talent to burn out, recklessness, and even death. Cooking as a professional is brutal and satisfying all at one time, and often the brutality overwhelms even the most talent chef. And when that time comes, it takes courage to step back and regroup. I don’t consider myself to be reckless, but impulsive and reactionary, so I decided it was time to boss up and deal.
Deciding to pursue better mental health is hard, really hard. I tend to internalize pretty much everything and try to sort out solutions and answers on my own before asking for help, which typically results in never seeking outside help. In the past year I’ve been working through a haze of frustration; I can’t seem to pinpoint its origin or figure out a way to lift it. My attempts to articulate my challenges have been nothing short of infuriating, since I pride myself on being a pretty decent communicator. I am at the beginning of my therapy journey and the biggest challenges are managing my expectations and increasing my patience for the process.
I am not a journaler. (Is that a word?). But I have found it helpful to jot down any quandaries and thoughts that I’d like to revisit at a later time. Right now I’m exploring this idea of living from a place of authenticity. Unpacking current "self-help" wisdom that is a part of the social lexicon, for example, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be” (Abraham Lincoln). “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions” (Dalai Lama XIV). On the surface, these ideas sound empowering, and I believe there is a type of truth rooted in them, but to discover it, they need further exploration and reflection. I connect more to ideas like this one from Chuck Palahniuk: “The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open” (from Invisible Monsters). It’s an understanding that happiness costs more than anyone is told, and it’s to each of us to choose to make the payment.
Therapy is proving to be a curious practice, and I look forward to seeing where it takes me. A final thought on mental health—”Mental Health Lite" isn't a thing. You are gifted one mind and life. To find fulfillment in the one, you must be fiercely protective of the other.
I am a chef and entrepreneur. I have a passion for storytelling and hearing story told, truth is I could spend the balance of my life travelling, cooking, and writing.