It is a simple question, one that we should be asking ourselves more often. Do we LOVE what we are doing? If not, what can we do differently? I got to thinking last night about how my products and brand have changed over the past few years. I am sure we’ve all been here as creatives, makers, artists, freelancers and even those who are not working in a creative field… We get a custom order, grudgingly take the project on because we need the money and then hate every moment of it? I can’t be the only one who has done this and I have done it time and time again- we never learn do we? To an extent we may need to take these soul sucking jobs but I believe the failure comes when we stop trying to make a change, when we stop exploring our options, when we stop being open to new opportunities. You should ALWAYS be searching, exploring, learning, growing and developing or you will very quickly feel stuck in a growing rut wondering how the hell you got here in the first place.
The point of this blog post is to tell you that it is okay (and normal!) to feel lost, to feel run-down, burned-out, frustrated, not good enough, unworthy, etc, etc, etc BUT – and a BIG BUT- you have to keep moving forward or you will never escape these feelings. I wanted to be a photographer like my mom as long as I can remember and I finally bought my first pre-owned DSLR Canon camera in 2012 on Ebay for $350. It was a HUGE investment for me at that time but I was set on seeing if I had what it took to be a professional photographer. Seven years later I am STILL trying to find my niche in the photography world and it is SUCH a struggle because I see other photographers with extensive editing knowledge, full frame cameras, a stock of name brand lenses I could drool over for days and plethora of clientele who keep coming back. It is easy to compare yourself and quickly be sent to the “not good enough AGAIN” corner with your dunce cap on staring at the wall. These are the moments when you have to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and remember that feeling you get when you are in your element, the feeling that drove you to pursue your craft in the first place. Despite photography still being in the “hobby” category for me, I love the opportunities that DO arise, usually by word of mouth from clients who DID see my worth, who loved my work and told people that they loved it. What more do you really need?
As a crocheter things have been very different and I am more surprised each and every day by this fact but can still find myself chasing money, comparing myself to others or wondering if my items are really that good… When I first started selling my crocheted items I was severely underpricing them and was willing to make pretty much anything people asked me to make if they were paying. I learned that this was not only unsustainable financially, it was detrimental to my enjoyment of the craft. I started focusing on my pricing and began to work on figuring out which products I enjoyed making the most- for me this led to my current line up of super chunky scarves & wraps, jumbo pom pom hats, headbands, fingerless gloves and cat-themed coffee & beer cozies but it also left behind a graveyard of long fringe scarves, knit blankets, amigurumi animals, plain coffee cozies, toe sandals, leg warmers, crop tops and more! I don’t regret learning to make those things but found over time that they were not a feasible item to make/stock or even create as custom orders; either people weren’t interested in paying what I felt they were worth or I got frustrated, bored, annoyed, etc while making them. Don’t get me wrong, I still make the occasional blanket and people LOVE my stuffed unicorns but they are unique, rare and limited edition items that make them all that more desired by my clients and all that more enjoyable for me to make (when I don’t feel like I am being forced to make them just because I could use the extra cash).
For my final point I want to focus on Self Care. We hear a lot about Self Care on social media these days and I have always been an advocate of taking care of yourself if you plan on trying to take care of others. This extends to how you treat your craft as well. If you turn yourself into a one woman sweat shop you will not only risk burning out and resenting your own craft but you also run the risk of causing health problems. Most makers, creatives and artists use our hands, wrists, shoulders and backs to put our talents to use to create beautiful things and some of us put regular strain on our neck, eyes, back and other major muscle groups. If we are not planning on slowing down or quitting any time soon we HAVE to be proactive. Learning to say no to certain products and orders that put extra strain on me has been a tough pill to swallow but will help protect me from losing my ability to crochet in the foreseeable future. I also now go to a chiropractor regularly and do stretching and exercises specific to my issues which now include arthritis in my neck from vigorously popping it multiple times a day when it started bothering me during crochet binges. Think about forming a self care “team” or chiropractors, massage therapists and healers (whatever is your jam) and don’t forget to treat your body with love and respect every day. We have to learn to listen to our bodies and treat them kindly so that we can continue to create beautiful things that will bring us and others so much joy!
In the words of Marie Kondo… “Discard everything that does not spark joy”…
By getting rid of the things that do not spark joy, we can be better prepared to maintain passion and love for our craft for years to come!Marie Kondo
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