A journal lying on a blanket with a pen ready to write

Creativity, Vulnerability and Other Truths

In my head, I have a million stories I want to tell, but writing them down, for the world to judge, seems to be my undoing. Years ago while I ran my crochet and sewing business Moo Chick (another pin please, we have to talk about handmade goods), I needed to find a market for my products in South Africa when I could no longer export (where the money was until the post office collapsed). Along with many other incredibly creative people I worked the craft markets, getting up at stupid o’clock to lay out my wares, spend an entire day waiting for someone to buy something to cover the fuel, stall costs and hopefully make a little extra.

It was brutal. What you don’t know is the anxiety that would course through me while packing the car. My daughters know it. I was a nightmare to deal with needing them to hurry and do things just right and if I controlled every little thing the day will be OK. You don’t know the near crippling fear and disappointment of spending an entire day at a market without anyone buying anything. And it happened. A lot. You also don’t know the sheer joy that would rush through me when someone loved something I made and bought it. So no it wasn’t all bad. And you don’t know the deep betrayal when someone would sneak a photo of something and whisper to their companion they could make it themselves.

Making something by hand, composing music, writing a story, and all the “arts” becomes so personal to each of us. Those bags I made were a part of me. The rugs, blankets, baskets, everything – if someone didn’t like it then they didn’t like me. If someone didn’t want to pay a good price then it meant I wasn’t worth it. If someone said they could do better it made me insignificant. This is the level of rejection that I would feel at every market. The anxiety beforehand would be knowing the rejection is coming. The let down after would make me question why I’m even bothering.

Some of you reading this will say, “But none of that matters. Your worth isn’t determined by what people think of the things you make.” (See, you were told this growing up while I had to anticipate the pace and intensity of footsteps.) Of course I KNOW this but it’s not that easy to reprogram your default settings that come with you from childhood. I also KNOW that I don’t need anyone’s validation but I still seek it. (Insert therapy here.)

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
-Theodore Roosevelt, Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910.

My sister reminded me of this quote recently, during my “umming and ahhing” about whether to embark on this blogging journey. The point is that I am the only one who gets to judge my work. If I feel it’s fantastic – then it is. If I feel I can do better – then I will. Often I will say, “what other people say about me is none of my business”. Yes I stand by this but it still hurts hearing things about you – feeling misunderstood and misrepresented (and another pin). But I need to adapt it to “what other people say about me and my work is none of my business”.

This doesn’t mean I can’t take criticism or guidance. It means that people who’s intentions are to be hurtful or break me down do not get a seat at my table. I have zero tolerance for assholery anyway.

It means I can let go of the narrative to be strong and never show anyone that I’m scared, or disappointed, or lonely, or need help – emotions I couldn’t show as a child. By the way, can we stop calling people resilient and expecting them to always be strong? We had to get through real shit to be this way and I would have preferred to be allowed to crumple into a heap and let my world shatter, instead of having to always make a plan and figure it out. (Dammit, I thought we used up all the pins but this one will be important.)

It means I give myself permission to feel everything and show it – and anyone who can’t sit with me in that moment isn’t part of my tribe.

It means I do not have to filter what I say about the people that have come and gone in my life. If you wanted me to speak better of you, you should have treated me better.

It means I’m enough. I am worthy. I am whole.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top