Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why I often downplay my skills and accomplishments to others. I’m afflicted with what I call Crafter’s Guilt where my excitement over something I’ve made is dampened by feeling sort of uncomfortable or guilty for doing a good job. I can’t be the only one who feels like this, right?
My wonderful husband pointed it out when he kindly suggested that when people ask me how Little Red Window Design is going, that perhaps I should replace my stock answer of, “Oh, it’s going ok, I guess. Kinda slow but it’s picking up…” with something more along the lines of, “Well, actually it’s going pretty well, I’m making regular sales and getting requests for custom work as well!” which in reality, is much closer to the truth. I mean, I’m certainly nowhere near financially supporting myself like I did with an office job, but I’ve exceeded my (admittedly meager) goals and expectations so far, so why is it difficult to tell other people that?
I notice myself doing this also when I give people handmade gifts or when I show up at a party with baked goods. Because oddly, one of the most common remarks people make, after telling me that they love it, is, in one form or another a statement like, “wow, you make me feel like such a slouch for not making handmade things or throwing a party with diy decorations.” I’ve heard that so many times that I think I’ve absorbed it and started to feel kind of guilty for that. Of course that is not my intention!
Instead of beating myself up about it, lately I’ve been thinking about why other people might feel that way. Is it because we live in this internet world with Pinterest and Facebook where we all post only the best most awesome parts of our lives and so, in a way, maybe even unconsciously we always feel like we’re in competition with everyone else? Is it because, as women, we are told that we should be able to “have it all”. We should be an amazing parent who bakes homemade bread and throws fabulous parties, uses cloth diapers and has not only a successful career, but a fulfilling one! Because really, that is a completely unrealistic expectation.
I’m sure that all has something to do with it. But when someone jokingly says my creations make them feel bad, I wish I could tell them, yes, my house might look pretty organized, but I have a secret room that’s supposed to be my office but it’s really where we throw all of our clutter. I wish I could tell them, yes, I may have baked cute little cupcakes from scratch for this party but my preschooler and I ate frozen pizza three nights this week while my husband worked late…and oh yeah, I haven’t cleaned the bathroom in way longer than I’d like to admit. I’m not perfect and neither are you! We all just have different skills and passions and this is mine. I’m really good at making things just like YOU are really good at running or playing an instrument or being a teacher or a doctor.
But more than anything I wish I could explain in a way that people really really understood, why I create. I don’t do it to have the “perfect” gift for someone. I don’t do it to have a “perfect” party that’s better than someone else’s party. I don’t do it to be somehow “better” than anyone else.
And because that’s how I am, in NO WAY does that make me better than anyone else. If you ordered a friend pizza after their new baby came, or bought your mom a scarf for Christmas instead of knitting one, I have no doubt that you care about them just as much as I do. If you bought your kid’s party supplies at Target, no one’s going to have any less fun at the party or feel any less loved.
I create because I like to challenge myself and see what I can accomplish. I create because I’m interested in how things work and are made and designed. I create because I am picky and I want things just so. I create because I am cheap and I want to see if I can do it for less. I create because I truly enjoy it.
I honestly like planning parties, I like painting furniture, I like knitting and sewing. I even actually like cooking most of the time (cleaning up afterwards, not so much). And sure I could buy a new dresser instead of handpainting one, but that wouldn’t be as much fun for me. If I don’t have a project, I literally get twitchy and anxious. I can’t just sit and watch tv, I have to have my hands busy. And if I go too long without making something, I start to feel depressed.
Really what it all comes down to is that I create because, to me, it’s as imperative as breathing. It is part of me and I just can’t not do it.
So I think the next time I give someone a handmade gift and they say that it’s great, instead of shrugging it off as no big deal or pointing out a tiny flaw so that I don’t make anyone feel bad, I’m just going to say, “Thank you, I think it turned out great too!”