You’re an artist.”
The woman who said this to me had silvery gray hair cropped in a short pixie style, and square rimmed glasses on her face. She was busy setting up her table next to mine at a vendor fair - busy unrolling her banner, her tablecloth, her items, all her branded merchandise. She was looking at my clay cake toppers, arranged haphazardly on my table on a white linen cloth. I paused because I didn’t know how to answer her.
“Oh! Thank you! I...don’t know about that,” was all I could think of. I was surprised at how much I recoiled at the term. I’m not an artist, is what I wanted to say. Not at all. I don’t even know if I want to be an artist. Artists have vision, and they’re visited by the muse, and they make lots of abstract things. I’m much more practical - I feel like I found something that people want to buy, and also found out that I can make it, and now I sell them for money.
When I first got the idea for the Craft A Community group, I hesitated because...how can I teach people about painting? About sewing? About pottery? I’m not a real artist.
I hear this a lot around the introvert/extrovert terminology, too. “I can’t _____ because I’m an introvert,” “It’s easy for her to make friends because she’s an extrovert.” The minute you find yourself saying, “I can’t do that because I’m _________”, it’s time to take pause. Labels (even when they come from super helpful personality tests and tools) are only helpful as long as they illuminate our tendencies and motivations, our proclivities and pitfalls. They’re designed to be used as tools to help us continue to grow, not fences to limit us.
Honestly, I don’t know how much of an extrovert or introvert I am. I know that meeting people and making small talk used to make me physically nauseous, and after practicing for the past 15 years, it doesn’t - and I finally enjoy it a lot of the time. I also know that after I’ve been with too many people, or been in a crowded space, or mingled too much, I feel this weird strain in my chest, and a pain behind my face, and I know it’s time to duck out. I don’t really know if I’m an artist or not, but I have been playing with clay since I was a kid and I’ve gotten really good at it.
Everyone has things that come more easily, and things that take a bit more work. I spent many years only focusing on the things that I did well, and it didn’t work out that great. Labels and terms can be good for helping you determine your path - maybe if something is really challenging for you, you’ll take one step when someone else takes three. But you keep moving. That’s the most important thing.
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If you are ready to take a risk - to step out - and take action to start making real, vibrant friendships, try a craft kit! It's the perfect reason to gather and make friends on purpose!