By Ashley Slack

I wanted to lick the spoon. At 15 years old, I had never been able to do that before. I felt the temptation bubble up in my body as I put the brownie mix into the oven. I knew that, try as I might, I was fighting – and losing – an age-old battle against the spoon sitting so enticingly in the mixing bowl. As I turned away from the oven, I was overcome with a feeling of resignation; I felt myself being lured to the bowl by the chocolate sweet aroma dancing through the air. Picking up the spoon coated in the gooey brownie mix, the feeling of resignation subsided and I began to second-guess what I was about to do. While most people would’ve just done it without hesitation, a lifelong feeling of uncertainty plagued me.
I thought back to when I had been about six or seven years old. It was the first time I helped my mom bake brownies. I watched awestruck as she perfectly cracked each egg over the bowl, my mouth watered as she seamlessly poured the prepackaged brownie mix and vegetable oil into the bowl and blended all of the ingredients together. Adoration and admiration stirred inside of me while I watched my mom bake the simple, sweet treat as if it were her own secret magic trick.
As intently as I had been watching her, however, my focus was soon averted to another key character in the baking of the brownies: the mixing spoon. I had seen kids in numerous television shows lick the batter spoon, so when my mom was finished with it and threw it into the bowl in preparation for cleaning it, I took my chance. Seeing that her back was turned to me, I took the spoon out of the bowl. The tantalizing mixture almost made it to my mouth when my mom grabbed it out of my hands. I sat there stunned at her lightning-quick mom skills as she turned me around.
“Ash, it’s not healthy for you to lick the spoon,” she explained to me. “The uncooked eggs could make you very sick.” After that moment, I never again tried to lick the spoon.
At 15 years old, I still adhered to what my mom told me that fateful day: don’t lick the spoon; it could be bad for you. I remember always being the kid on the playground who wouldn’t climb the jungle gym for fear of falling off, the girl who wouldn’t go on roller coasters out of fear for the drop at the end, the girl who purposefully wouldn’t go somewhere or talk to someone or do something for fear of making a mistake and being embarrassed or hurt.
We are supposed to make mistakes. We are supposed to take chances and risks that push our boundaries. Every experience we have – good or bad – makes us who we are. Allowing opportunities to pass us by due to fear of how they could affect us causes us to miss out on a chance to truly live our lives.
At 15 years old, I remembered being the girl who missed out on so much because I was afraid. At that moment, I decided that I was no longer going to limit myself based on fear. For the first time, I was going to take a risk and do something that could prove to be detrimental to me. For the first time I licked the spoon. For the first time I tasted how sweet life really is.