"Please don't cry tomorrow." It was a one-part joke, one-part serious request from Andrew this past Wednesday. And a completely valid request - I have indeed been known to shed a few frustrated tears on the first day of a new rotation. It's never been my favorite day, meeting new staff and residents, trying to feel out your role for the month, attempting to achieve that delicate balance between being involved but not obnoxiously so. It's an exciting change, but also a terrifying one for anxiety-prone students like myself (and let's be honest, likely like most medical students).
Which leads to the question: will it ever stop feeling like that? If you go to bed thinking it will be awful, probably not. What I'm realizing lately is that so much of my "bad" experiences have nothing to do with the events themselves, but on my perception of the whole situation. The reason the first day is so bad is because I come in believing that's the only way it can be.
What's ironic is that I'm a self-proclaimed optimist. I mean, I am with other people. I wish all the best things onto my friends, believe (sometimes even more than themselves) that good things will happen. But when it comes to situations for myself, it's the opposite. Good things are unattainable, I expect the worst possible scenario. Why? I've never really had to answer that question in words, and thinking about it now, I'm kind of embarrassed about it. The stubborn me will say it's just because I don't like getting my expectations crushed. But let's dig deep and reveal that uncomfortable truth - sometimes I think I just like feeling sorry for myself.
Self-pity seems like an easy way to gain others' sympathy, and maybe that's why I occasionally fall into the trap. I love having people surround me and pick me back up when I feel down. And sometimes, yes, you need that. But there are definitely days where I don't even try to push past the negativity and expect someone to do it for me because surely they feel bad for me and don't want me to stay there. And that's not cool for so many reasons. First, it's pretty damn unattractive. Even though self-pity seems like a way to get people to notice you, it's probably doing the opposite and driving people away. Especially when it becomes a habit. Second, it makes it that much harder to remain positive. It might seem like a shortcut way to get to feeling better, but really it's just setting you three steps back. You are the only person ultimately in charge of your happiness. And that's not to say that we can't have encouragement from our loved ones along the way, but if you don't put yourself in an active role to have happiness, you'll start to notice how quickly you can slide back.
By the end of Thursday, there were no tears, no negative comments. Just a relaxed run after work to burn off some of that energy, a chance to reflect without feeling sorry for myself. Honing in on the positive parts of the day, making the negative ones seem small in comparison. Something I haven't been doing lately but would like to do more often. And ideally, all the time.
With fall just around the corner, I felt like it was only appropriate to get these mini cakes to you before the warm sunshine ends and the cool breeze settles in. These cakes are extra tropical with the addition of coconut extract in the batter itself as well as chunks of mango scattered in the cake. I topped it with an easy coconut cream cheese frosting, a little tangy from the cream cheese and a lot coconutty from the extract, and overall a great accompaniment to the banana. They're made mini for a couple reasons: when I first attempted this cake it was more of a layer-cake situation, but found that the cake didn't handle itself very well in a layered format. And mini things just scream cute. I like cute.
Tropical banana mini cakes, adapted from Betty Crocker
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 4 ripe medium bananas, mashed
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ripe medium mango, cubed
For the frosting
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 8 oz package cream cheese, cold
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- Powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour your mini loaf pan or cupcake tin (should make 12 mini loaves, 24 cupcakes) and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt until combined. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar using a stand mixer (hand mixer works fine!) until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, beating in between each addition until combined. Add the bananas and again beat until combined. Add the buttermilk and coconut extract and beat once again. Add the flour mixture slowly to the batter, mixing until just barely combined, with some flour streaks remaining. Add the cubed mango and mix until distributed throughout the batter.
- Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack, then remove the cakes from the pan and let cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting.
- For the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until combined, then add the coconut extract and beat again. 1 cup at a time, add in powdered sugar until it reaches a pipe-able or spreadable consistency to top your loaf cakes! Sprinkle on top some candied almonds, or coconut for an extra tropical feel. Enjoy with a margarita! Or something summery!