April 9, 2010

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Find your wall

The Sewing Hype Cycle
The Sewing Hype Cycle
(Apologies to Gartner ;) )

I like sewing because it frustrates me.

I start optimistically enough. I pick out a pattern. I choose fabric. I tweak the pattern. I cut out pieces. I start sewing them together.

Seams don’t quite line up. Threads break. Pins prick. I hit my lowest point: the facings are flapping about, the clothes don’t quite fit, and I’ve just sewed a seam that I have to rip out. I wonder why I put myself through this agony when I could buy better-made clothes for less than what I would spend on fabric.

I stop and put my work away. The next day, I take the unfinished pieces out and keep going. Somehow, it turns into something that looks okay.

I’ve never had a “flow” moment during sewing. It’s a struggle all the way to the end. That frustration is important. It’s why I do it.

It’s a good kind of frustration. It’s not a “life is unfair” kind of frustration. It’s not a “people suck” kind of frustration. It’s the frustration of knowing that there’s something I don’t know, or something I’ve skipped, or something I haven’t figured out.

It’s the frustration that accompanies learning things that don’t come easy to me, like a wall with hardly any handholds.

I learn, and I learn how to deal with that frustration. I learn when frustration and fatigue push me into making mistakes. I learn the value of sleeping on it. I learn how to keep thinking about how to do things better even when I’d rather do something easier or more fun. I learn how to experiment. I learn that I can find a way over, under, around, or through things that frustrate me.

I learn how great it feels to climb that wall.

I learn that there’s always going to be another wall, and another, and another – and that’s okay, because the walls help me learn.

I learn not to fear walls by trying them, just as I learned not to fear falling by intentionally doing so.

It’s tempting to spend your time on easy escapes. Find your walls. Deal with that frustration, and keep going.