There are some things I feel very confident about. But it’s weird, isn’t it, the kinds of things people can feel comfortable with and still worry about other things that might seem less significant? And how some things can intimidate one person but not faze the next?
Maybe it’s just years of desperation in grad school, but we pretty much had to be able to teach what we were assigned, and it made me scrappy—not an expert, but enough to teach a lower division class. I taught books wildly out of my areas of expertise, and made it work. Give me some library time, and I am confident that I can find a way to make most literature accessible, and maybe even entertaining.
So you’d think, maybe, that I could plan a crafty workshop.
I mean, I can, but I worry. Since I’ve found My Hobby (after years of trying on others that were temporarily interesting, but ultimately I didn’t stick with them), I’ve tried a number of ways to fund it and to get more out of it. My hobby is paper-crafting or card-making. I also make gift bags and tags and other gift-wrapping paraphernalia. To support this hobby/habit, I have resorted to flogging crafting supplies at in-home parties like Tupperware, and to indulge my desire to share what makes me happy, I have had “Make your own holiday tags” parties every December for the last several years.
The tag party works because it feels like such low stakes. People make little gift tags for the holidays. They’re quick to design and assemble; I put out a number of samples with appropriate materials, and off they go. Usually people leave with a dozen (or twenty) tags, and don’t have to buy them that year. I like that. I think the gift wrap industry is outlandish and have ever since a friend gifted my son a $10 Lego set and gave me the receipt in case he had it already. She had also paid $10 for a bag, tissue, and a card. I was mortally offended for her and vowed to address that.
So I do the tag party. I’ve given up on having the parties where people buy stuff. My heart was never in it, and it’s a hobby for me, not a career, so I just provide the materials and let people play. That makes me much happier.
This year, though, they also wanted to do cards. You’d be amazed how much I fretted.
For someone who has pulled off half a dozen tag parties, a card party shouldn’t have been daunting, but it was. It really, really was. Cards seem like something a real crafter teaches, not some dilettante who stamps more for therapy than because she knows what she’s doing. The stakes felt much higher, for some reason. I still can’t quite explain why.
But I have a couple of wonderful friends who encouraged me, and who brought some extra supplies to help out, and off we went. And it was a lovely event. People made 2-6 cards instead of 12-20, but everyone had fun, and my little ambivert self found the sweet spot between having too many people depending on me for guidance and blending in with the crowd and making some of my own cards.
It was glorious, and now I’m slightly embarrassed by how much I fretted about it. When I was in grad school, and worrying about whether or not I could finish my dissertation, my wise 29-year old husband said to think of it like a boat you’re building. If you know what a boat needs and you get the materials and spend time building it, you need to trust that it will float, because that’s what boats do. Trust the boat to be boat-like.
And this feels like one of those times, when I should have been able to say “trust the boat” and move forward, but I didn’t. The good news is I get credit for pushing myself in to uncomfortable territory and doing just fine. And every time I do that, I have a little bit more street cred.