I had an epiphany yesterday that surprised me so much I wanted to share it no matter how difficult it might be to put into words.
In recent weeks I’ve been learning to crochet. Slowly. It’s great fun but it’s also incredibly challenging for someone who’s a knitter. At least for this someone. 😉 The whole process is very different in so many respects from knitting, from the abbreviations and stitches involved to the use of only one hook instead of 2 needles. In fact, the basic “how to hold the hook and yarn” was so awkward that it took me days of perseverance to get a remotely natural looking technique going.
Quite often when trying to pick up a new skill, I get impatient when my ability or understanding aren’t instantaneous. I’m ridiculously hard on myself to the point of feeling like a failure if I haven’t learned it all within a matter of hours or days. Low self confidence all too often provides a temptation to just give up and I tell myself I’m bad at that thing or can’t do it. Is this something you do too? I know I’m far from being alone when it comes to this affliction.
So it got me pondering over why craft is the exception. Spending days and days practising my “crochet hold” didn’t trouble me at all. I never doubted my ability to learn it or any other craft. I even go out actively looking for new crafts to try, deliberately placing myself right in the path of failure! How’s that for going from one extreme to another? Surely, there has to be a reason for this dichotomy in my attitude to learning.
Well, yes. I realised there are two reasons. Very good reasons.
The first is that we normally try to learn within a time frame. One which is often very rushed. We need to pass that exam this year to get in to college. It’s important to pass that driving test within 3 months or it’ll cost more. We have 3 days to learn that new filing system because the current job holder is going on maternity leave. Sound familiar?
Then there’s crafting. Usually it starts as a hobby or is something we’re being taught in our spare time. When we learn it at school, it’s not something we’re being graded on. There’s no pressure to get anything completed, no impending disaster if we don’t quite get to grips with it right away. More often than not, it’s simply the start of a journey and a learning curve that will last years, if not a lifetime. 🙂 Failing umpteen times is ok. We see the process as a pleasure, not a chore. It can be very therapeutic.
Secondly, everything else we learn in life (for the most part) is either right or wrong and being wrong is a Bad Thing! Passing exams requires correct answers be given. There’s a wrong way to pour a pint. Processing an application form on a Government system must be done in a specific way. If you put a motorbike engine together badly, it’s probably not going to work. If you use a microwave or cooker incorrectly, your meal is going to be a disaster.
On the other hand, if you miss out that last stitch on a row in your cross stitch project, nobody’s going to notice unless you tell them. If one bead is the wrong colour in that necklace, it was a design feature. The colour you smudged accidentally whilst stamping? Stamp over it or hide it with ribbon. Even in situations where there are correct methods of doing things, its still ok if you make a mistake. It’s even encouraged because the joy of crafting, whichever one you prefer to do, is that every finished item is handcrafted… individual… one of a kind. Part of their charm is in their imperfections.
And that my friends, is why I’m ok with try, try again when it comes to learning to crochet. It might take me months to learn and I’m sure there will be many mistakes along the way. I’m just fine with that. So maybe it’s time to start applying that same acceptance of the learning process to the rest of my life.