After gingerly putting the finishing touches on the cake I baked for baby Smiley’s baptism, I stepped back and took a good, long look at my creation.
I swiveled the cake stand from side to side. I crouched down to look at it at bench level and then stood on my tiptoes to get a view from above.
It didn’t matter what angle I looked at it from though, it was a Disaster with a capital D.
I let out a massive sigh, closed my eyes, and then inhaled deeply as I attempted to calm myself down. Surely when I opened my eyes the cake would somehow not appear that bad. It would somehow resemble the gorgeous creation in the Women’s Weekly cake book I was trying to replicate.
All I saw when I opened my eyes was a huge, lopsided, blobby mess with wonky, coloured chocolate buttons all over it.
It looked nothing, I repeat, nothing like the picture in the cake book.
It had been one hell of a busy day full of baking, swimming lessons, washing, ironing, cleaning, and kid wrangling. I was exhausted. It was fair to say I was on the edge.
I had used over half a kilo of white chocolate on this bad boy. I’d baked two cakes. My hands were stained with food colouring, and the kitchen was a warzone. I’d given this cake my all.
I looked down to find myself clenching the sides of the cake stand. I used all of my strength to refrain from throwing it in the bin.
I texted my mum, my sister, and sister-in-law for backup.
This is when I learned about the Gap Theory.
‘Don’t stress,’ said my sister-in-law.
‘It’s the Gap Theory.
‘It’s the gap between expectations and reality.’
I stopped in my tracks. She was completely right. How had I never heard of this theory before?
When I chose the beautiful polka dot cake with white chocolate ganache out of the Women’s Weekly cake book, it didn’t cross my mind that I may not be able to recreate it.
I expected my version to look as good as the one in the book. I forgot that I am no Masterchef, I rarely bake, and have a bad track record with cakes. (With Curly-locks’ first birthday, Women’s Weekly told me I could easily make a beautiful number one cake. Instead, I made a cake which critics claimed resembled a giant penis). After hours of mixing, melting, colouring, piping and baking, I realised no amount of ganache could fix my monstrosity. I admitted defeat and was left devastated with the end product.
The gap between expectation and reality was huge.
As I thought more about the Gap Theory, I realised it could be applied to so many areas of my life.
When I read Save Our Sleep and follow Tizzie Hall’s instructions to the tea, for example, I expect the end result to be a baby that will sleep from 7pm to 7am and never cry.
In reality, things could not be further from the truth and I am once again left disappointed and frustrated.
In another instance, I took a picture of Lauren Conrad to my hairdresser recently and asked her to make me look like LC.
When I came out looking like the same old me and nothing like LC at all, I was disappointed.
And here we are again, folks, that gap between expectation and reality.
In a couple of weeks, when I attempt to make Curly-locks a Snow White cake for her third birthday, I will firmly keep in mind the Gap Theory and try to be realistic with my expectations.
I’m no stranger to placing unrealistic expectations and unnecessary pressure on myself. When I don’t meet these expectations, I always feel as though I have failed. I need to remind myself that there is no such thing as failure though, it’s just a different method of learning.
(Plus, I’m sure those cakes in the cook books aren’t even real and are photoshopped beyond belief. Tizzie Hall has got to be kidding herself, and as for LC, she probably had 10 people working on her to make her look that good!) 🙂
Can you apply the Gap Theory to events in your life? Do you also place unrealistic expectations on yourself?