Pinterest Fails and Having Honest Friends

Swiss meringue buttercream is not easy to pull off, apparently.
Swiss meringue buttercream is not easy to pull off, apparently.

Not too long ago, a friend was kvetching about a woman she knew. This woman had low standards: she’d volunteer to do something, like bake cupcakes for a bake sale or do decorations for some party, and would do a terrible job.

My friend, who has a serious perfectionistic streak (as do most of my friends, I must admit), was not just aghast by the low standards, but also by the reaction of others to the woman’s efforts.

“Not only does she not realize how bad her stuff is, all these other people see it and are like: ‘Wow, thank you! What a great job you’ve done!'”

Quelle horreur!

Now, we can’t all be good at everything. I myself am neither a baker nor a decorator. Or someone you’d want on your intramural volleyball team, or dodgeball, or basketball, or baseball, for that matter.

Being good at something takes practice – and not just one or two failed cupcake decorating attempts – we’re talking hours and hours of practice, and many failed attempts. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever try anything new, that you should only stick to your lane or whatever; I am saying that you may want to fail many times in private before you trot your fails out for the world to see and try to pass them off as wins.

Because, you know, let’s not insult the many who actually are excellent bakers, decorators, and intramural ultimate players. If I ever get roped in to a bake sale that requires something more complicated than your basic chocolate chip cookie, I am going to pay someone to do the baking for me. (I mean, unless I never want to be asked again, which is a possibility. I might do something really badly so I’ll never have to do it again.)

Lena Dunham wrote about Nora Ephron:

When I brought horribly failed brownies that no one ate to her family Thanksgiving, she didn’t try to placate me, but, rather, said, “I feel that these brownies are destined for a moment in the second season of your show.”

The lucky thing about having perfectionistic friends? They won’t lie to you about what a great job you’ve done. Instead, they will give it to you straight: “It’s not your best work.” or “I think you’ve come on a bit too strong with some of these flavours.” It’s honest and fair – while it smarted a little when I was younger, now I’m thankful for it.

Plus, there’s something funny in the failures. Pinterest Fails has made me laugh out loud.