I woke up this morning with a giant smile on my face. This is saying something because I woke up at 4 am and couldn't go back to sleep!
It's hard to distill my wonderful mood into a simple single reason, but I think the best way to describe it is it feels damn good to be good at something.
I haven't always felt good at what I do. Growing up, I was given attention for my beadwork, knitting, and crochet crafts, but when I'd explain that I wanted to do this work for a living, I mostly got sympathetic smiles and "There's no money in it, sweetie. You can't make a living with crafts."
This is unfortunate because these activities have been what I've always wanted to do, what I've always spent the most time on. When I'm not eating or sleeping, I want to be making something and putting my hands to good use.
So I pursued other things, not necessarily because I liked them, but because they seemed like they were a safer bet for a secure future. In middle and high school I was in the band and played the drums.
To say it simply - I totally suck as a musician.
I got through 7 years of band, including 4 seasons of marching band with long night practices and many hours of rehearsals only through sheer force of will. I was just plain bad at it.
Comparisons aren't fair, but the fact is, I was markedly different from the other kids in band class. The other kids could "feel" the music. They didn't have to count obsessively in order to feel a rhythm, and that aspect of playing never came naturally to me. I could stitch a pretty design around the drum in beads, but when it came to feeling the beat and rhythm, I struggled because that wasn't the way my brain worked.
Could I have mastered music the same way I've mastered quilting? No. I've just never loved it the same, and in order to get good at something, you have to WANT to do it all the time. That is they key - practice. All those other kids in the drum line had spent every day for years practicing at home. I came home and knitted and made jewelry. Drumming was never going to be my passion.
When I left high school and went to college, I left music behind for good, but I pursued an equally flawed idea in going to college. I was fairly good at math and science so I started a degree in biology.
Again, I could muscle through it if I really concentrated and forced my way through. My grades were not terrible, but they weren't great either. I just didn't love it enough to really put in the practice time with study and homework.
Did my B's and C's mean I was stupid? No, absolutely not. They were an indication of my focus and attention. When I left class, I didn't go study, I went to sew!
It took a long time, and more than 2 years into a college degree before I started to realize this was a weird thing to do. I began to see that, again, I was different from the other kids in school. They studied. I sewed. They organized reading groups. I organized a knitting club. Clearly I wasn't in school for the right reasons, or I just wasn't at the right school.
Eventually I stopped in my tracks and took a critical look at what I was doing. I could continue to beat my head against a wall and pursue a degree with no passion, but sheer force of will driving me to obtain this thing I didn't really want.
I thought I needed that piece of paper for a long time. I thought it would somehow be valuable to me and make me into something I wasn't. Maybe it would have the power to turn me into a dedicated biology student that loved studying and running experiments.
But people don't change that way. I was fortunate enough at 20 years old to realize that a piece of paper wasn't going to turn me into a brilliant scientist with an intense passion for microbiology. That is not me. It was never me. It will never be me.
So I guess this smile on my face today has a lot to do with that.
I know who I am.
I know what I'm good at,
and I will pursue it with intense passion until the day I die.
Let's go quilt,