Empathy’s the antidote to shame. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too. – Brene Brown
Last week I wrote a post about my struggles with designing and how I often felt I just wasn’t good enough. I knew I was putting myself out there and wasn’t sure what the reaction would be, I even thought some people would be offended about my rant about “perfect” Instagram feeds maybe hiding not-so-perfect lives. So when so many of you commented here or on social media about how you shared the same fears I was more than surprised: I was dumb struck.
It took some courage for me to hit “Publish” that day, and I thank you all SO much for your own courage to come out and say “yes, I’ve been there too”. Each and every one of your comments has helped others and me see that we are not alone in our difficulties, and as Brene Brown would say: empathy is the antidote for shame. When we share our shame experiences with others and realise we are not alone that feeling of not being good enough starts to shrink. We see that is OK to be imperfect, slow and insecure because despite our constant self talk that “only I am finding this so difficult” it turns out we are all imperfect together.
So THANK YOU. For putting yourself out there, for your honesty and courage to keep it real with me. I could’t be more grateful to have found this fibre community.
This is for all who think they are alone in their struggles…
Last year I shared in this space what would become my most popular pattern to date: my Moroccan Tote. It has been favourited by over 2,000 Raverly users, has over 50 projects and was even featured in an issue of Simply Crochet. After reading these facts you may be surprised to hear that my one and only thought after releasing that pattern was: that is it, I am never designing again, I am just not good at this.
Before you think this is a pity party, let me explain why I believed I was not a good designer: because it was too damn hard and if I were good at it (like all the effortless designers I follow on social media) then it wouldn’t be this hard.
If I were part of the “cool designer crowd” then it wouldn’t take me so long to come up with a design idea, I wouldn’t change my mind so many times, I wouldn’t get stuck for hours looking at an unfinished pattern with no clue as to what to do next. It wouldn’t take me so long from idea to published pattern.
And to top all of the above my design process does not look at all like what designers share on Instagram: I don’t have a beautiful workspace at home that looks over stunning scenery, I don’t have pretty dried flowers or cool vintage backgrounds all around me while I work to take amazing pictures with and I can never come up with such awesome colour combos as they put together. These are seriously talented people, and I just couldn’t compare.
So I stopped designing and had been enjoying some quality crochet and knitting time just for myself since then. Until I was reading a book by Brene Brown a few months ago and stumbled upon this quote:
The new cultural belief that everything should be fun, fast and easy is inconsistent with hopeful thinking… When we experience something that is difficult and requires significant time and effort we are quick to think, This is supposed to be easy; it is not worth the effort, or, This should be easier: it’s only hard and slow because I’m not good at it.
At that moment I thought: Shit. That is exactly what I’m doing.
I don’t know when it was that we as a society stopped giving value to really hard work, but it is out there. We give up because we don’t believe something is worth the time or because we think we are not as good/quick as we should be. And the latter is usually a consequence of us comparing to others, or most of the time, our idea of those others.
After this it was easy to realise that just because it is (so damn) hard doesn’t mean it is not worth doing. And just because it may be harder for me than for others doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be doing it either. I saw so many people trying out tapestry crochet after my pattern was published, people picking up their hooks or saying that they were inspired to try crochet because of it. That makes up for all the hard work.
I didn’t realise how much I was comparing myself with my idea of other designers and hadn’t realised that it was shame that made me want to quit: shame that I could never be like them. So if any of you are thinking of designing (or anything really) but are not sure you’re good enough, here is my advice to you:
Allow yourself to be a beginner: give yourself a chance.
The rest is up to you. Just know that we all struggle and that usually when you think you are the only one finding something difficult, you are not alone. We are simply more used to sharing the successes than the struggles.
So to keep it real let me tell you that until a week ago I was horribly stuck with the design that I am working on right now and it has taken SO MUCH longer than I thought. I want it to be good, and I am scared that people won’t like it. It took hours of staring at it to find a way to finish it that was just right and I am glad that I stared at it for so long because now I love how it turned out.
Do you want to keep it real with me? Share something you are struggling with in your life at the moment, anything! You may just realise you are not alone…