Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mistakes, Learning and Shame

A little bomb exploded inside me yesterday. My ego disintegrated from a grenade of errors I threw at myself during a learning process.  After a long lazy summer, I returned to my shop to make some new designs for the fall season.  Perhaps it would have been easier if I had attempted to learn a new skill  before the season arrived.  There would have been less pressure to "produce a thing of value" and just play around with patterns and fabric.

I have been working on building a poodle costume with a full and flowing skirt. Once I was moderately satisfied with the skirt, I wondered what else I could make to go with it.  I had a glossy, shimmery yard of white satin.  In a feat of daring, I attempted my first making my own paper bag pattern.

It was a two day disaster.

And for every mistake, I doggedly tried to make corrections that ended up destroying the overall piece.  I worked and adjusted, hoping to save it.  It is now a rough draft that I can no longer edit. I held on to the idea of it so hard, my mind engaged in a bull headed determination to solve all of the problems I was creating. 

Two of my road blocks to technical skill development are the idea of "fast track learning" in combination with a "results NOW!" expectation.

 I have trouble working with traditional patterns because I have not taken the time to learn the basic sewing terminology or study the art of garment making.  It's simple, yet also complex.  There are sizes to consider and lots of measuring.  It's incredibly frustrating to sit at the machine and work with precision when you proceed like Dori from Finding Nemo, her calming voice in my head saying "just keep sewing, keep sewing....keep sewing".  

I am so committed to doing things "my way" that I avoid learning something useful from a skilled teacher.

Leaving the shining white blouse in a crooked wreck of awkwardness,

I went to bed disappointed, feeling that I lost two days of my life.

In the morning  I started thinking about how much abuse I was taking during the learning process.  How ashamed I was for making mistakes.  (Why?  I'd never attended a sewing school!  I  was learning by trial and error funded only by my lucky success with costume accessory pieces!)

What did I expect?

And why did this heap of shame go along with the learning process?

Who could I blame for infusing me with the idea that I must produce a flawless piece of wonder on the VERY FIRST ATTEMPT?

My ego.

Shame on it.   It demands unreasonable and unfair levels of perfection through constant comparison of someone else's final worthy product.

If I am ever able to go forward and keep trying, this nonsense about perfection needs to end.  It's also what holds me back from writing books and stories.  Once I get into creating a piece, I end up rending the garment into shreds or stuffing it away somewhere where no one can find it.

I need a new way to think about mistakes in learning, without the shame.

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