It can be easy to confuse what you’ve become “good at,” or “what comes easy to you,” with what makes you feel alive. Anything that comes easy to you probably does so because you worked at it for a long time, perhaps even starting when you were very young—so that by now, you’ve forgotten much of the time you invested and you believe that what you do is what you’re naturally good at, and as a result, it’s what you’re meant to do.
It’s fair to say that when I practiced law full time, I was at least a competent lawyer. Briefs became easier and easier to write; much of the research on many issues I encountered was already in my head; and so on. There might have been times when I thought to myself, “you’re good at this.” Maybe even “you were meant to do this.”
But was I conflating being “good” at law versus what made me come alive? There were accomplishments throughout my legal career that boosted me emotionally so again, I thought, “you’re supposed to be a lawyer.” But was I using those external victories and accomplishments as a source of happiness? There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you’re also enjoying the process.
When I started working with pastries and chocolate, I was impatient. It was hard. Sounds amusing, but I had forgotten that I wasn’t born a lawyer. I had disregarded the fact that all of my schooling, from elementary school through law school, had taught me many of the skills that I would need as a lawyer—at a fundamental level, I had logged tens of thousands of hours reading and writing before I even became a lawyer.
Yet, somehow, I expected piping truffles, balancing ganaches and recipes, and hand-dipping chocolates to come naturally. There were plenty of times when learning was unpleasant. You become the “old person in class” who doesn’t pick up tasks as quickly as you once did.
You will likely be uncomfortable learning those new skills, but if your heart is in it, it doesn’t matter how awkward it feels. Give it time. Figure out if your time is being spent doing what you’re doing only because you’re good at it, or because it makes you feel alive.