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The Strawberry Chocolate Box

It’s not how good they say you are, it’s how good you believe yourself to be.

The community fair was in full swing. Proud gardeners and pushy mothers turned up in equal measure at every event. I had my eye on a prize. Having learned to bake at my mothers hip by the age of twelve there wasn’t much I couldn’t tackle. This year I was going for it in the junior baking competition. I wanted to attempt The Strawberry Chocolate Box. That exotic creation I’d seen on the front cover of Woman’s Weekly magazine.

I’m sure my mother spent a quarter of the usual weekly shopping bill buying the ingredients for that cake. For a start strawberries were a luxury in our suburban Dublin home. We usually ate three kinds of fruit apples, oranges and bananas. And there seemed to be an awful lot of expensive dark chocolate and cream required too. I locked myself away for two whole days working on that cake. I picked perfect rose leaves from the garden and painstakingly painted the backs of them with chocolate, peeling them once they’d set to reveal perfect edible leaves. The fatless sponge rose like a dream and each ripe strawberry was drizzled with even more chocolate. The whole thing was a masterpiece. It looked just like the magazine cover almost too good to eat. And too good to have been made by a twelve year old.

We lined up at the battered blue door of the community hall to hand in our entries. Mum in the apple tart section, me in the open children’s category. The Strawberry Chocolate Box stood proudly alongside the rice crispy cakes and fairy buns with their wobbly icing.

There was a lot of oohing and aahing over The Strawberry Chocolate Box and more than a couple of questions about how much help my mother had given me with it. There was no contest. When the big moment arrived the judges came forth and commended people announcing results in reverse order. Patience; followed by devastation. The Strawberry Chocolate Box and I didn’t get a look in. Plainly the judges didn’t believe that a twelve year old was capable of producing something that good (it tasted better than it looked too).

It was a hard lesson to learn. When you’re twelve you believe that if you really are the best then you win. What I learned that day is sometimes I would be limited by the small dreams that others had for me. I learned that in the future I could choose to allow myself to be limited by their worldview or that I could just be audacious.

Don’t be limited by the small dreams others have for you. Be as good as you know you are. Go, be audacious.

If you enjoyed this post you might like Paul Arden’s book.

Image by Melly Kay.