We’ve all been there. Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram…Past the random cat videos, selfies & newsclips…. When our eyes suddenly cast on a towering structure of beauty, a picture of edible perfection that wish as we might, we sadly did not create. And there it is, that deep pang, that disgruntled churning – envy… creeping in like unwanted calories. And before you can say “croquembouche” a million thoughts come rushing in..
“I’ll never be able to make that”
“I wish my cakes looked half as good”
“I’m soooo lousy”
“How come everyone’s businesses seem so much more successful than mine?”
“I bet it’s not real cake”
“Hah… it only got a few likes..”
“Mine is better”
On and on and on it goes. I call it, CAKER COMPARISON… The silent killer in the cake decorating industry. Why you may ask? Cause it’s the cause for so much meanness & menace in the cake decorating circuit. It kills creativity. It discourages cakers. It breeds snootiness. It attacks self-esteems. It stagnates growth. It spurs division.
But the real question we should be asking is – HOW can we overcome these emotions that seems to burst out like a tightly-packed piping bag?
Well, there isn’t really a formula, and no there sadly ain’t no happy pill that will make all the negative emotions mystically dissipate. Being right in the heat of caker comparison myself, it’s taken me years to finally reach a place where I’m secure in who I am as a cake decorator. Not needing to put someone else down to boost my own confidence, yet not intimidated by the greatness of others. So I thought I’d share some really important discoveries I’ve made along the way and help you live out a cake journey that takes the high road, bypassing the traps of comparison.
Know you identity
This is a big one. This is basically to know your worth as a human being. As surprising as this may be to read in a cake blog, your self-worth is not wrapped up in the cakes that you make. Cakes is something you DO, it’s not who you ARE. When we confuse the two, our sense of self-worth is totally dependent on the quality of cakes we make. And trust me, this ain’t at all sweet. We’re people made for good purposes, each handcrafted uniquely & beautifully by our Maker. To know our identity apart from cakes, is something we need to be sure of before everything else.
Understand that everyone is at different stages
A baby doesn’t look at an old person and go “oh man…I suck cause I’m so YOUNG… I still don’t have teeth yet and I can’t ride a motorcycle”. We laugh…but that’s exactly what we do when we look at others further along the journey and compare ourselves to them. We need to understand that newbies will cake like newbies and experience will always be reflected in the work. So if we find ourselves in the “preschool” stage of caking and we’re desperate to graduate, then it’s head down bum up – learn.practice.improve. And just understand that everyone is at a different stage in the game.
See Abundance Rather Than Scarcity
At the heart of it, feelings of unhealthy competition often surface because we are under the incorrect perception of scarcity. We get upset when we see a local cake maker thrive because we think “there just isn’t enough cake buyers in my area to go around”. We get downcast when someone’s Facebook account gets more likes because we think “If they get all the likes, there ain’t gonna be any left for me!” and so on and so forth. We need to see wider than our current perspective and realise that there is actually enough of the pie to go around. One person’s success doesn’t automatically result in my failure. If one person prospers, I can too (perhaps in a different niche, style or sphere). There ARE enough clients to go around and there certainly is enough interest and love to go around.
Create versus Copy
Carve your own path, forge your own way! I’ve realised that if we’re preoccupied building our own gig, we won’t have time to get bogged down by comparison. I love this quote by Bob Goff which says “We won’t be distracted by comparison if we are captivated with purpose”. So what are your dreams? What are your goals? Determine what your unique path is, explore your own creativity and be focused in pursuing it. Don’t spend your days trying to be like everyone else, be unique! As Oscar Wilde so perfectly worded “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”.
See the joy of inspiring and mentoring
At some stage in our caking game, we’ll hit our stride and really “get the hang” of things. Our edges are razor sharp, our fondant is pearly perfection, and our flowers are the shock and awe of the party. The DANGER when we finally “arrive” in our caking is the overwhelming sense of superiority. It is then so easy to turn our noses down on someone just starting out, roll our eyes at “hobbyists” and attack that cheap cake lady on Facebook. It is when we get to this stage that we have the opportunity to mentor & inspire. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve found lifting others up waaaay more empowering than putting others down. And funnily, enough, it has a roundabout way of coming back to ya. So help and encourage others on their journey, hold back from unhelpful criticism, post something that inspires others. It’ll not only gain you respect in the industry, but it’ll make your cake decorating career a whole lot more fulfilling.
I hope this post helps you know, you’re so not alone in this journey. The feelings you’re having, yup, I’ve totally been there myself.! Do you struggle with caker comparison? How do you deal with it when it creeps up unannounced?