Hosting triggers my (mild) social anxiety. Making sure guests are comfortable, entertained, and happy… the mere thought of someone visiting my house and not being any of those things? I’ll spiral into a total panic.
This, compounded by my somewhat introverted nature, was often a recipe for disaster. I would get frustrated with my partner over seemingly nothing or, in the worst-case scenarios, retreat to another room and shut down completely.
The most confusing thing about this reaction is that I actually love to host people.
I frequently put out fresh slippers and robes for visitors and generally enjoy making sure everyone has enough tasty food and drinks… if I’m not thinking about it too much. And until recently, I was always thinking about it too much — about whether people had enough to do or the awkward lulls in conversation or if my couch was comfortable enough.
After having a craving and doing a little Googling a few months ago, I made a batch of from-scratch cinnamon rolls from this recipe (yes, you pour heavy cream on the cinnamon rolls before baking them — do not question it).
My fiancé loved them, I loved them, and, most importantly, they confirmed my deeply held belief that everything is better when made with heavy cream. Once we’d eaten our fair share, I put the extra dough and rolls in the freezer.
The next time guests were over, I was feeling anxiety again — this time about there not being enough to eat. So I decided to whip out the frozen dough. After 10 minutes of following the recipe (rolling out the dough, mixing the filling), I felt less anxious, the house smelled amazing, and my guests thought I was a talented baker (I am not).
Then, another time I had visitors, I felt that familiar anxiety creep up while I tried to make sure everyone was entertained and happy. So I started the whole baking process over. Not only did mixing, kneading, and rolling keep me from hovering over everyone and asking if they needed another drink (guilty), it also made for easy conversation.
Turns out, people love to ask about the recipe or how they can help. And I love it when they ask because their questions and comments fill the silence with natural conversation. I don’t feel forced to become an entertainer, and it gives me (and my anxiety) some much-needed space to breathe.
I remember thinking this social anxiety was just an unfortunate part of adolescence. Sure, I was spending 2 hours picking out what to wear and was hopelessly stuck inside my own head, but hey, isn’t that how every teenager feels? By the time I reached my early 20s, though, my nervousness in group settings and new social interactions seemed to be here to stay.
Despite my disappointment in learning that adulthood actually didn’t mean feeling confident at all time (also: taxes), the one benefit of accepting my anxiety has been finding ways to deal with it. And to my very pleasant surprise, one of those strategies includes fresh, homemade, next-level, melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls.
They’re a surefire hit, they’re easy to make, and the process of baking them soothes my anxiety every single time.
Now, if you’re not an expert baker, the idea of attempting a start-to-finish recipe while you have guests over might seem a little overwhelming (even if the end result is gooey, delicious cinnamon rolls).
I suggest practicing the recipe at least twice beforehand — once to get a feel for the recipe and a second time to freeze some of the remaining dough. That way, even if things are a little chaotic, one step of the process is already done by the time your guests arrive (plus, you can avoid the big mess that often comes with using flour).
Trust me: The outcome will be just as delicious, and you will feel relaxed knowing your go-to solution for hosting-induced anxiety is just sitting in the freezer.
Olivia Muenter is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and digital content creator. Follow her on Instagram or through her website.