Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sew Embarrased


"We have a fear of facing ourselves. This is the obstacle. Experiencing the innermost core of our existence is very embarrassing to a lot of people. A lot of people turn to something that they hope will liberate them without their having to face themselves. That is impossible. We can't do that. We have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see our gut, our excrement, our most undesirable parts. We have to see them."--Chogyam Trungpa

There is a time at the end of the day that I prepare to leave work. It's always the same--I go into the employee bathroom and reapply make-up and fix my hair. I do this even if I'm just going on the "T" to get home. Often even my best efforts to freshen up don't make me feel any better, but NOT doing this, leaving the office with no lipstick and my hair slightly tousled or flat, would be unacceptable. You might think I'm vain, but I'm not. This is my insecurity knocking. I put on my mask and hope people don't see what's behind it, because I don't think I'm good enough.

I've been thinking about what I'm REALLY afraid of and I think it's deeper than a layer of tinted moisturizer. I can't accept any imperfections in myself. My outward flaws are not the only ones I try to disguise. I also feel that I'm not interesting enough, or social enough, or smart enough. I worry that I'm wasting the talents I have and not trying to build up the talents that take practice to achieve. I hate failure, so if I try something and I'm not immediately good at it, I stop and never try it again.

Like, for example, knitting. At my job we publish knitting and craft books as part of the overall publishing program. Knitting is no longer just the province of grandmothers everywhere--it's also hot among Generations X and Y. A couple of weekends ago I went to Boston's holiday Bizarre Bazaar at The Castle. I was impressed by all the young men and women who had made unique, arty, handmade items and who were selling them handily. When I go to shows like this (or peruse the craft books) I get excited to work on my own crafty projects. The craft magazines in particular make it look so easy to make a knitted scarf or a bird ornament made of clay and beads. But when I've attempted some of these projects, I've ended up with sad little malformed trinkets that I would be embarrased to wrap in pretty paper and actually give to someone.

The one and only time I tried knitting I was with some girls from work. We met up at a bookstore cafe and over soup and sandwiches we set to work. An expert knitter attempted to guide me through the first steps--arranging my yarn on my needles and doing my first drop stitch. I was immediately frustrated as I wound the yarn around and around, never quite getting it right. Others in the group were busy making their hats and scarves and even baby clothes. I had one pathetic line of uneven stitches that was destined for the yarn bag. Eventually I took pity on my teacher and put down the needles in order to finish my soup.

Will I try knitting again? Maybe, although I'll probably try to master some other, easier craft to build up my confidence. The thing is, if I felt comfortable with myself and had a stronger sense of self, I wouldn't give up so easily. I'd risk looking slow and inept for the sake of learning, and then maybe after a while of concerted effort, I'd see some reward. But this is just a guess since I've never gotten that far. It's too hard to look at the end result of a project I've worked on for hours that looks like a kid's 1st grade art project.

1 comment:

Julie said...

You should see the malformed first few objects I knitted. Many were ripped out. Some I keep just to remind myself. It's been a bit of my own "buddhist" practice - to be more interested in the process than the result. Very freeing... -- Julie