This post is more scape-goaty and reflective than my previous posts. I used to have a livejournal, which may or may not explain things, and I thought typing things out might help me sort out my thoughts. I might take it down later, we’ll see.
It’s not news that I’ve been in a creative slump over the last two years. Over the last 6 months, I sewed up a pair of pajama pants for my husband, but nothing for me. I’ve knitted up a bunch of things to be sure, but I don’t get the same amount of joy I get from sewing clothes. I’ve even stopped baking macarons on a regular basis. I can blame the large amount of time spent on knitting, unpacking, lack of data, uncertainty of grant funding…but I actually think the biggest drain on my motivation has been peer pressure and the idea that I need to make things that will impress other people.
I don’t think they’ll read this, but I have friends who I used to make costumes with on a regular basis. We held “sweatshop” days where we worked on getting projects finished for display at conventions and I really enjoyed having camaraderie while I sewed. Then these friends became more involved in the dedicated cosplay community, which lauds petite/sexy doe-eyed maids, being the first to make such-and-such latest outfit, and elaborate costume armor sets. And I felt like I was in high school again: I don’t fit in. I am not a thin, vapid moe girl, I can’t force myself to make costumes for characters I don’t care about, and elaborate armor is beyond my reach as of yet (especially for something I don’t have any connection with). But unlike high school, when I was an unapologetic nerd (I dressed like a Rebel Alliance pilot one year and no one knew who I was aside from my friends), I failed to detach myself in order to my own thing. And I felt like crap because I felt like I was ignored in favor of the cool kids, so I would need to make something to impress…yet disliking the group costumes that my friends were making.
What’s worse were some of the people who started joining in on sweatshop days: cute-looking but emotionally-draining, oblivious, and utterly useless at sewing/crafting/LEARNING. I ended up working on everyone else’s stuff, especially the emotionally-draining people’s stuff, even on the days when I brought my things to work on, like a pattern that I simply wanted to cut out muslin for.
I felt like I wasn’t important enough to dedicate time to making things that I wanted…and I stopped going to sweatshop days. And stopped sewing because I was going to be the unphotogenic lump in the photo in an outfit that no one but me cares about, so why even bother.
Yay, low self-esteem.
As a related side note, an unrelated one of my friends recently commented that she didn’t like the book “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, well aware that many people consider it a masterpiece of love, self-sacrifice, altruism, etc. I actually HATE “The Giving Tree” and, as a kid, never understood why it was celebrated: a kind tree gives all she has to an inconsiderate brat kid who makes no pass at visible appreciation. (I am clearly not ready for parenthood anytime soon.) Until my husband pointed out that you can actually interpret the giving tree as a warning. And you know what? I often feel like the Giving Tree, the Little Red Hen, Boxer from Animal Farm, etc. I watched Anna Akana’s “How to put on your face” video and felt chagrined when she said “Some poeple are too kind…and end up giving all of themselves away.” Because that’s how I burned out. I rarely even bake cookies any more because I give them away and almost never get anything back in return.
I’m slowly working my way back to acquiring my activation energy. My husband forced me to take a day off for my birthday and do nothing but what I wanted. I still cleaned the bathroom. But I also cut out fabric for a pair of Tania culottes that I wanted to wear to my Irish step-dancing class that week. It took me two weeks to finish them and the shorts were by no mean perfect (for some reason, the culottes look better when I wear them backwards), but you know what? I wore them anyway. Wearing this red, twee, and flawed skirt-like thing made me happy all day through dance class.
Something made for myself, felt joy.
I am making it a point to seek out my other (non-costuming) friends because they do put things in perspective. My husband and I are actually going to our friends’ wedding in September and they encouraged their guest to envision an English wedding and encouraged dressing up. I emailed my friend the bride about my husband wearing a tuxedo and what era of “English,” ’cause I had ideas for eras from Victorian to Downton to William&Kate. I got back an enthusiastic reply stating that I would rock any time period and asking if he was going to wear a ;morning coat. And I found her email super supportive and encouraging. My husband doesn’t have one yet, so CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! And for me, I was actually excited becuase I think I can make an outfit that’s been on my list for a while: Anya’s traveling dress from The Phoenix Requiem, a favorite webcomic of mine. The Fabric Mart was having a sale on suiting, so I couldn’t resist.
So yes, trying to get back in to the swing of sewing things that mean something to me. If all goes well, I’m going to make my husband the King of the Wild Hunt’s armor from the Witcher III game, hopefully in time for Emerald City Comicon. My husband has been a huge fan of The Witcher since the first game came out and I have a soft spot for it since he shared a lot of the game with me while we were still engaged in our Udistrict apartment. Plus, if he is the King of the Wild Hunt, I can make Ciri’s outfit as a complement.
And I can get behind that.
Anyway, sorry for the rant/whining/pity party. Hopefully we’ll get back to my regularly scheduled program of stuff I make…when I actually get around to making stuff. =)