I just learned something shocking about myself. It’s been true for years, but I had no idea until a little over a week ago.
First, a little background information: I come from a family of seamstresses. Two of my grandmothers are seamstresses, as is my mother. I grew up wearing handmade dresses and clothing my dolls with matching miniatures. My mom is so good, in fact, that she made my wedding dress.
With such talented ladies encouraging me, I learned to sew. At first with a needle, thread, and a swatch of scrap fabric. Then, with a machine. I made blankets for my Barbies and scarves for my dolls. And it was all fine and good.
In my twenties, I didn’t have a lot of money and thought sewing my own clothes would be a frugal and satisfying endeavor. My mother told me about all the cute things she made for herself when she was young and poor. And I had heard stories about my great-grandmother sewing underwear out of old flour sacks for her seven daughters. With this same resourceful blood pumping in me, I would create a whole stylish wardrobe in my living room for virtually pennies per garment.
My parents bought me a sewing machine for my birthday. And I made some things. But nothing that amounted to a stylish wardrobe. In the years since then, I’ve aspired to sew many skirts, bags, and pairs of curtains for every single apartment I’ve lived in since college.
Very few have I ever completed.
Why? Why haven’t I made more? Why haven’t I adorned every single apartment I’ve lived in with handmade curtains?
I’ll tell you. It’s because I hate sewing.
There, I said it. I hate it so much. But until recently, I didn’t know that I hated it.
I had this image of myself carved out by the women who came before me. Of course, this was all my doing, not theirs. I fabricated this vision of what kind of person I would become: the kind of person who could whip out a skirt or curtains or a handbag with the flick of a finger. A sassy and talented seamstress.
It wasn’t until I was hunched over a yard of fabric with scissors in hand, attempting to hand-make a costume for my son’s 2nd Halloween that my truth came into full view. I had measured wrong and already cut far too deep into the fabric to recover from the mistake.
Damn it! F*@%ing stupid thing! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! I HATE THIS!
There it was, my truth.
I always imagined myself making my kid’s Halloween costumes the way my mom had made mine. I thought I needed to be a seamstress, like all the women before me. So, I ignored the frustration I felt every time I set out to make something new. I ignored how underwhelmed I was with the finished product. I ignored my aching back and cramping neck. And I ignored feeling frustrated and apathetic before I even started a project.
Bottom line, this shoe didn’t fit. And it hadn’t fit in years.
No matter how hard you try, if a shoe doesn’t fit, you ain’t wearing it to the ball. But we try all the time. We try to live up to silly expectations we’ve made up in our heads. Or we try to live up to what we think others want from us or ideals set by our communities and society. What I was trying to live up to was completely self-imposed. No one cared if I was a fabulous seamstress or not.
When I looked closer at it all, I was able to see that I enjoy making things – quite a bit. I love the satisfaction of looking at a finished product. I’m crafty. I dig glue and paint and a sharp Exacto knife. But I do NOT like working with a sewing machine.
How often do we go along with things in life because we’ve never stopped to examine how we feel or what we think about the matter? How often have we found ourselves living in a city, going down a career path, dating someone, or doing anything that just didn’t feel right? I would hazard to guess, all too often.
This is not to say that when things are hard, it’s a sign that we’re on the wrong path. Not at all! Hard things are often worth while. But only when they are aligned to our passions or our priorities.
Hard things are only worth while when they are aligned to our passions or our priorities.… Click To Tweet
It’s important to stop ourselves every now and then to ask, “Why am I doing this?” When your answer is, “Because I love it,” or “Because it’s important to me,” then you know it’s all good; you’ve hit a challenge but you can get through it with grace because everything is in line with your truth. However, when your answer is trivial or you don’t have one at all, you know it’s time to reconsider your actions.
In the end, I found a DIY site that helped me make the same costume cuter and with far less sewing (I only had to hand-stitch his little hat, NBD). I’m about to pass my sewing machine (and the notions that go with it) to someone who will find joy in that process. I’ll be on to other projects – ones that make my heart beat faster, not out of frustration, but out of joy.
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