Image Source: Meggiecat blog
I’ve recently been helping out working in a costume shop for the first time in three years. Unlike my usual routine, where my mind is constantly going, trying to figure out things for Wearing History, this gives me time to just sit and sew. And not only sit and sew, but sit and think, and be surrounded by people who do a similar thing and have a similar creative bent- trying to use their talent to help them make a living. I find it both refreshing and humbling at the same time- getting us back to square one and it’s a good reminder that I’m not alone in my worries, desires, and passions. The revelation of this has been wonderfully reassuring.
If you’re of an artistic type of personality, you may find it frustrating that you sometimes seem stuck in your career, or unable to find a way to make the most of your talents and passions in a meaningful and profitable way. I felt that, today, I’d like to write and let you know that you are not alone. Even individuals who may seem to the outside like they are “living their dream” can be really struggling, and where you are in an individual moment is not a reflection on you of your talents or abilities. You have value, even if for, right now, you’re not able to fully follow your dreams, for whatever reasons.
I often feel very stuck. I was near tears a few days ago when I was talking to a good friend who I happen to be working with right now, trying to explain what a challenge it is to try to pay bills based on talent or craft. We all struggle. I know extremely talented corset makers, pattern makers, costumers, seamstresses, milliners, and artists of other trades who either are searching for opportunities to work in their trade, are working day jobs unrelated to their field and trying to do their craft in their spare time either for hobby or small business, or small business owners who do their craft full time who are struggling to pay their bills and keep things going. Have heart, you are not alone, and even those who outwardly look like they have it all together are often times dealing with similar anxieties and worries, or feel unfulfilled because they’re not doing what they really have a passion about.
However, I am of good faith. I know that we were given these talents and passions for a reason. Even if it’s not apparent now, someday things will fall into place, and if not, then we will find where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do with our talents. Some important things I believe are the following, that apply not only to those who try to do small business, but also those who do this as a hobby.
1)- Remember We All Stared Somewhere.
This can apply not only to those just starting out, but those who have been doing this for a very long time. If you’re starting out, either with this as a hobby or as a business, it’s ok to not know everything. It’s ok to be new, and it’s ok to make mistakes. In fact, admitting that you’re learning is a great way to be motivated to keep growing. Gather all the knowledge you can, and keep going and learning. Likewise, if you’ve done this for a very long time, try to remember what it was like when you were starting out. Give kindness and encouragement to those who are new, and don’t get stuffed up or be a know-it-all. Lend a helping hand and use your knowledge in the way that really counts- by passing it on and offering encouragement and advice when you can, in a way that will help- with love and patience.
2- You Don’t Need a Degree to Be a Professional.
Some extremely talented people I know have either learned things on their own, with mentors, or through a job. You don’t need to have a piece of paper with your name on it in order to be a professional, so don’t discredit your knowledge and talent because you may not possess it. When I was in school for Fashion Design and guest speakers would come in, it was re-instated over and over again that you didn’t necessarily need a degree, and you could learn a lot of information on the job. So just dig in and do it- if you could never get a degree in theatre arts or fashion, it doesn’t mean you don’t know your stuff. Many talented professionals I know have degrees in a subject completely different to what they’re doing now. But if you do get a chance to study it academically, that’s great, too! But likewise, just because you have a degree in something doesn’t necessarily you’ll get a job in that field. And if you can’t, don’t be down on yourself. Just keep going and keep trying- you may find you’re meant to be doing something completely different than what you initially thought you’d do.
3- Remember to Share.
Once you’ve been doing something for a long time, it’s easy to take it for granted that other people know the same things you do. If you have time, try to share what you know, or point to places that can help people get started. This is not to say that you have to give out all your information for free, or that you need to give so much of yourself that you find it hard to meet your own personal deadlines or give away your formula for your business or projects. But if you have something, and you have time, then share! This blog was started for that purpose, and that’s why I was so actively involved in The Fedora Lounge for such a long time. If you’re passionate about something, often times you’ll want to share and find others who love the same things. Blogs are a great way to share your knowledge and passions.
4- Remember Your Etiquette
It is so hard to watch such horrible things being said in small communities Don’t be mean or nasty to each other. It’s such a small world, this historical costuming or sewing world. Be nice to each other, treat others as you’d like to be treated, and leave comments that you wouldn’t mind receiving Be polite, be encouraging, and be helpful. Hurtful or snarky comments don’t help anyone. Instead, if you know more about something than someone else does, help them out by sharing links, books, or information. And don’t forget that we all get into this for different reasons- and if someone just wants a pretty dress up dress, that’s ok- just like if you want something 100% period accurate down to the hand stitched finish, that that’s ok, too. We all like pretty things and creating, so we should be a united front, even if our methods and preferences vary.
5- Remember- You Are NOT a Failure.
If your sewing skill, your costuming, your vintage wardrobe, or your small business isn’t where you think it should be, remember that you are NOT a failure. This is a journey. Just because you wish you were somewhere else on the map doesn’t mean you won’t get there- it just takes hard work and practice. Try to keep an open mind and open heart- to others but also to YOURSELF. YOU are valuable your passions were given to you for a reason, and you will find a good place for you and your talents. Sometimes where we think we should be is completely different than where we should be in actuality.
I struggle often with my passions. How could God have given me a talent and passion for something that is, in it’s essence, so unmeaning to the world as old clothes? But it is undeniable that the passion and the knowledge have been given to me, so I need to take hold of that and hold on, with an open mind and open heart, and follow His lead, where ever it may go. Holding on takes a lot of patience, and it’s often quite frustrating, but I know that there is a good purpose to all of this. So take heart! Keep working hard, have an open mind and open heart, and wherever in your life your passions are supposed to take root- be it professionally or as a hobby, it will be of use. But use your skill to your best ability, and don’t forget to be humble, honest, and giving with your gifts, talents, or knowledge because the more people who come into this hobby, the more people there are to love. Pass on the passion, and follow your heart.
God bless you guys. I know many out there are struggling internally with this, especially in view of the times we live in. Don’t forget, when you get down, that we are lucky to live in a time and era where we are able to do this and that there is still enough disposable income in our societies that make it possible for us to have these hobbies, or try to run small niche businesses- even if we don’t get to do them to what we think their potential can be right now. You are not alone, you are valuable, and your talents are worthwhile, so keep on going and encourage those on the same journey!
VanessaOctober 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm (11 years ago)
<3 Thank you Lauren! So much there that I feel and needed reminding of. I know exactly the feeling of wondering about passions that are not "world changers." It has seemed to me that all the things I love to make and do are so insignificant in the greater scheme of things, "vanity." I guess though that I've formed many friendships and relationships based on common interests, so although an "old" dress might not solve the world's problems it has brought small portions of the world together who otherwise would not know each other. This is community, and that is world changing. :-) Love this post and will re-read it a time or two to take it all in. I really needed this and appreciate all you've said. Have a super day!
Miss VirginiaOctober 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm (11 years ago)
THANK YOU!!! for this post. So timely.
Wacky tackyOctober 14, 2012 at 10:39 pm (11 years ago)
As always, this was written with incredible wisdom and kindness. It is such a timely reminder. I know that I am guilty of always suspecting that everyone else is so accomplished and really has their act together; much to my surprise, I have been informed that the same suspicion has been applied to me!!! I am definitely one of those creative types “stuck” at a job that has no promise of fulfillment. It is wonderful to remember to be grateful and have faith that things will fall into place as they should. Thanks for reminding us that even if we aren’t all in the same boat, we’re still making our way up the same stream!!!
Sara from Ladylike DelicacyOctober 15, 2012 at 12:56 am (11 years ago)
Thank you Lauren so much for this post ! I started studying clothing business and sewing two months ago, and I am already feeling like a failure just because I can’t do some things instantly in school. This post opened my eyes, it takes time to learn and I just need to believe in myself. After school, I really want to be professional seamstress, go work in a theatre costuming or open my own atelier. This helped me a lot, to believe in myself.
Mrs. HudeOctober 15, 2012 at 7:52 am (11 years ago)
A wonderful article, my friend! Very inspiring, and written with lots of love. Please know I’m praying for you & your business! :)
CorinneOctober 15, 2012 at 9:21 am (11 years ago)
Such interesting and comforting thoughts. And in one sense, sad. That some people still feel the need to undermine another persons work or their art is unsettling. No matter how evolved we seem to be, those primal emotions surface in competitive fields. I do not do this kind of design or sewing and absolutely marvel at those who do. Those of us who have or take time to read the blogs have learned so much beyond our own little worlds. Sewing and designing is often a solitary pursuit, sharing in this format softens the edges a bit.
JessicaOctober 15, 2012 at 9:51 pm (11 years ago)
Lovely post! I work in the arts (though not with my sewing – that’s a hobby for me) and I always tell people this. Aren’t we blessed to be able to do what we love?
RachelOctober 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm (11 years ago)
After reading this I really wanted to take the time to respond in a sensitive and thought out manner. My heart really goes out to you because that ‘stuck’ state is one that can come in any stage of life and multiple circumstances can cause it. It’s something so many people relate to because it’s incredibly common for us. Maybe it’s thinking the grass is greener, having your life on pause for an important purpose, anxiety getting the best of you, or feeling completely hopeless that’s the overarching theme. I have a LOT of personal experience with each of those reasons for being stuck, and I’m sure there are many many more.
There are some very specific thoughts and prayers that have gotten me through those times, and while I realize everyone’s different I hope you can take what you can out of this and apply it to your own walk in a way that will glorify. Philipians 4:11-13 and Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 are very uplifting, and another one that has caused me to shift how I view hardship is James 1:2-6.
I’ve learned (and it seems you have too) that there are no coincidences, and everything happens for a reason. Sometimes you don’t see those reasons until years down the line, but how you face challenges now directly affects everything and everyone around you (to include yourself) for the better or for the worse. The only person you have responsibility for is yourself. God has a specific purpose for everything, and just trusting that and letting go creates the opening to allow profound change and direction to occur. You may look back at this point years from now and see how everything lined up perfectly, but in a way you never could have imagined, and that’s exactly how God operates.
I hope this helps, I’ll be praying for you and your situation, and keep strong in your faith through it all.
HeidiAphroditeOctober 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm (11 years ago)
Thank you so much for those scriptures, Rachel. I looked them up at my desk and am having a hard time not crying right now. Such good reminders, and exactly what I needed to read today. I’ve been wrestling with my disappointment at being rejected for grad school earlier this year, and trying to decide if I should reapply. Maybe God just wants me to be still for a while and stop worrying about what to do with the talents and abilities He’s given me. Maybe if I’m still, I’ll hear what He wants me to do with my life.
Thank you, Lauren, for writing this and doing what you do.
MelanieOctober 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm (11 years ago)
Thank you so much for this post. It is truly what I needed. Starting to sew again, and realizing I hate everything in my closet that is RTW as it fits horribly and isn’t really my style, on top of doubting my skills as a seamstress. Encouragement is always a good thing. :)
BoPeepOctober 19, 2012 at 7:28 am (11 years ago)
Linking back to this post on my own blog…perfectly written and always timely for anyone, at any stage, in any craft. Such a refreshing post in a sea of “Look what I can do” bragging. Thanks for being you, Lauren. :))))