I’ve had this tab open for a few days now. It’s a bit close to the bone, even though it’s not really my situation at all.
I remember trying to quit when our last kid was born and as I rocked the kid back to sleep in the dead of night, all I could think about was how I burned to keep writing.
Let’s get out of the way how much of this is NOT me. She’s a professional writer; I’m a wannabe/trainee knitting designer. She’s a decade older than me, a decade further on in her career and her family life. And she seems to be stuck on the idea of being A Success, of Making It Big, rather than just making it work – which is my goal, and I’m not even clear on what “it” is. Chances are it won’t be selling patterns.
But: she’s a woman feeling left behind by her peers, by those amazing people all around us doing amazing things, earning very well deserved success and applause, and unsure of her own path. Unsure of whether it’s all worth it. As I’ve written here recently, I came to ask myself whether I wasn’t being frankly stupid to work so hard on something I don’t expect to get me very far. And as she wrote above, I concluded that I can’t. I just can’t.
That sounds awful. “Oh darling I am so cre-AY-tive I just HAVE to work! How I suffer, being driven so by my inspirations!” I apologise, honestly. I loathe that stuff. It’s not like that, though (at least I don’t think that’s what I mean). It’s just… I’m not used to not Doing Something, and maybe it’s just an addiction, but I really need to carry on Doing Something. Something concrete, something more than washing another load of dirty nappies. Plus which, being largely without adult company gives me a lot of time alone in my head, and that feeds the idea machine, and then I’m fizzing with energy for All The Projects – design, writing, all kinds of things – but of course there’s no time to actually work on all these things, or not nearly enough, and all that energy goes horribly sour.
Plus, it sucks feeling left behind. Because I am not a big enough person to feel unalloyed joy for my awesome friends and their awesome achievements. I am so thrilled for them, and so scared for me that I’ll never catch up. One is of course supposed to feel inspired by the awesomeness, but I just feel left behind.
There it is. It would be fine – well: it would be manageable – if I could just trust that I’d get back on track, in a few years. But I’m not even sure I can find the track, never mind catch up. And that’s terrifying.
The one thing I’m sure of, though, is that knitting – and specifically designing – gives me enormous personal satisfaction. So quitting isn’t an option. It’s the one thing I can do with my time now that feels right and productive and enjoyable.
And Polly’s answer (incredibly longwinded – like me) is so wonderful and comforting and right.
I’m saying shut out all the noise of Facebook and Twitter and Oprah and the best-seller lists and figure out what you really believe in and like to do every day…
I think just becoming a mother can make you feel like an awkward alien among the carefree and the hip.
Instead, we make what we love and dress how we like and dance in our kitchens and breathe in the good moments because we know nothing lasts that long. We will never have everything we ever wanted. The world will not turn shiny and spotless and perfect one day. We aren’t rushing to some imaginary finish line. We are inching along slowly, smelling the flowers, playing with our dogs and cats, giving generously to those who need our help when we can.
We wake up very early in the morning, before the sun comes up, and we say to the world: I AM OLD AND I AM A NOBODY AND I LOVE WHAT I DO. You will be just like me someday. If you’re lucky.