Can I be real a second?
For just a millisecond?
Let my guard down and tell the people how I feel a second?
“Right Hand Man”, Hamilton: An American Musical
The Hamilton Cast Recording has taken over my life. The CDs are on constant rotation in my car. I blast the soundtrack while I sew and usually end up dancing and rapping instead of cutting and sewing. I see echoes of my life in the words sung by Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Aaron Burr, and Eliza Hamilton. Alexander Hamilton’s story, as portrayed in the musical, is one of personal ambition, struggle, mistakes, and legacy.
I’ve been struggling. In different areas of my life. Some people know the details. Many don’t, and I won’t air the specifics here. Still, I’ve been learning about embracing vulnerability, compassion for myself, and the benefits of reaching out. Suffering in silence, while implicitly and explicitly encouraged in American society, leads to greater suffering. Just emailing a friend asking for advice, or saying, “I’m not well” can give me a sense of relief.
Four years ago, when I was at a particularly low emotional point, I wrote down what I was feeling, thinking, and the impact that state of mind had on my work and friends and health. I then wrote, “Remember this feeling. If you recognize yourself going down this path, you know you need to change something.”
I stumbled onto that note when I was cleaning up my files at just the right time. I hugged Past-Meris for having the idea to document her feelings and leave a reminder for her future self.
At the start of the year I had the sewing bug back, then it seemed to vanish again. I was paralyzed by hesitation and fear of making irreversible mistakes. I felt that apprehension of “what if it isn’t good” forming a wall around my creativity. This brings me back to “vulnerability” that I’m learning about. I’m learning to embrace the possibility of mistakes and see them as opportunities to learn. I know, I know – didn’t I meditate on these same topics last year with the Craft Table Chats? These scripts are cyclical. They also aren’t earth shattering, yet they have had a dramatic impact on me.
I devoured the book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown’s words hit home – When you tie your value, your self-worth, to the things you make and create, you place your value in the hands of others. You become “what you make” not what you do. It was at that moment that I understood that showing something I’ve made to the world is an act of vulnerabiltiy. It is why I get nervous every time I post a blog post about something I make, or when I step onto the convention floor in a new cosplay. Fear of rejection and disconnection is powerful. I could see my past self worrying that friends would stop being my friend when they saw the “flaws” in my creations.
I am working hard to change this mindset in myself.
Our digital selves, whether on Facebook or our blogs, are curated. Sometimes more than others. Curated doesn’t preclude being genuine, but it can. Sure, I want to highlight my best work on my blog. But I am also a part of a community and I want to make sure that sewing and maker community is as supportive to one another as it can be. Sometimes we lose our sewjo because we are just busy with other areas of our life, but sometimes our sewjo goes into hibernation because there is something larger looming that needs our immediate attention.
“Hamilton” has helped me understand that some of the void I felt came from questions about my legacy. It has helped me tap into personal and professional ambition that I have let languish for years. Alexander Hamilton often dared greatly. I’ve been playing it safe, “waiting for” something. I hope everyone has the opportunity to explore themselves through an art, whether it is by your own hand or someone else’s
I am here if you ever need to talk. Message me on Twitter or Instagram. Email me. I don’t have all the answers. But I do have a love for my sewing sisters and brothers.
This week is national anxiety and depression awareness week. You matter.
(Cover photo by Brooke Cagle, from Unsplash.)
9 thoughts on “That Feeling When…”
What you create should be fulfilling, soul satisfying. Not about meeting the daily requirements of someone else’s meme, it should give you the fulfillment you seek. If it doesn’t, skip it. Do something else.
Life is really too damn short to waste on someone else’s expectations.
And yes, 16 Tony nominations. Damn!
I don’t know if I tell you this enough, but I love your blog. It’s one of the ones I’ll see pop up in my feed, and I’ll save it for when I can properly read and reflect. Thank you for that!
Thanks you, Gillian. That means so much to hear. Your involvement with the Sewcialist community inspired me constantly. So glad to have met you through Internet threads. (See what I did there? 😉)
I hope you are able to access your strength / vulnerability and wisdom from Past Meris and get to the place you want to be. I’m always here if you need to talk, too. ❤
Thank you, Morgan. I will take you up on that offer. 🙂
I love reading your blog too. I don’t get to comment very often at the moment but am always in awe of the beautiful things that you make and in your skill as a costume designer/creator. There are always others who seek to validate themselves at the expense of the feelings of others. I have seen it a lot on the corset making community. Your stuff is brill. Don’t let other people spoil you doing something you love. Xx
Thank you for your supportive words. I have thankfully not received much direct negativity from others, but I have always been a perfectionist and a “pleaser” who anticipated disappointment from others if I wasn’t good enough. I am breaking through that suffocating shroud. 🙂 It also helps to be surrounded (even digitally) by good people.
People (especially those who don’t sew) are surprisingly unobservant about everything around them. I completely understand only seeing the flaws in things you make – it’s easy to get stuck seeing them in the items you make because you are so close to them during construction. I still do it. My coworkers all do it. It’s normal when you make, and you have to be at least partly a perfectionist or you wouldn’t want to create in the first place. Sometimes finishing something, putting it in the closet for a week or more, and then wearing it, will help you take a step back so you stop focusing on the tiny details you wish were better or more perfect. Maybe even sewing a season ahead would help so you can’t wear something right away.
Most people I know outside of work and social media don’t even know I sew. I rarely tell people I’ve made an item I’m wearing if they give me a compliment. I’ve found that unusual (either because of the print or pattern used) or brightly colored garments get the most compliments but basics tend to go without any comments – this is true with both rtw and custom made I wear. Once I had a coworker (a cutter/draper) tell me he thought I bought and altered everything I wore because I only wear things that fit me well. (For the record, almost every costumer I work with never or rarely sews for themselves.)
Wear what you love and know that what you make looks just as good if not better than anything you could buy! No one will see the “flaws” the same way you do. =)