Self-worth is an important topic to talk about. It's a bit unusual to blog about, I think, because it could come off as sounding whiny, or, on the other end of the spectrum, overconfident. However you end up taking this in, I feel like I just need to talk about it. So, thank you in advance for reading. :)
My current long-term project in timeout: the epic Anna Maria Horner medallion quilt (original design)
My husband, family, friends, and this crazy awesome quilting thing have been holding me together these last two and a half years. When I graduated from college in May 2012, I was completely confident (and naive), believing I would soon be living my dream job as a teacher. I was a top ten student in high school, I graduated magna cum laude with History Department Honors in college, I was praised for the excellent job I had done in student teaching, I'd worked my butt off, I went on many, many interviews and some second and third interviews, and then... nothing. I try to convince myself that it isn't all me - the New Jersey teaching job market is so competitive and thin right now, and it's only gotten worse since 2012 (in my opinion).
The first September after graduation was the hardest. Several teachers in my graduating class did find teaching jobs and talked/posted pictures of their new classrooms, their back-to-school shopping, their excitement... and there I was with a very part time job and substitute teaching, sitting at my sewing machine at night. I was happy for them but it still hurt in an awkward way. It's really hard to train and pour tons of money into something that you feel is your life's calling, only not to get that chance. It beats you up inside. You wonder: "Am I not good enough for this?" "What was I thinking?" "What could I have done differently?" and worst of all, "What do I do next?" I know these thoughts are pervasive amongst my generation as we travel the murky waters of our first years of employment.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts progressive top: needs to be quilted next year!
I didn't stop trying. I worked a few maternity leave/summer school/after school teaching positions. I've gained a lot of experience teaching and helping many kids PreK-12 that I never would have met if I was a full time teacher. I'm so grateful for all those wonderfully unique, funny, brilliant students. The downside is the whole we-need-to-make-money part. I've been yearning to go back to school to earn more certifications and/or a master's degree, but that requires money that I especially don't have because I'm paying off the loans from my BA. Up until last week, I was working several part time education jobs (paraprofessional/aide, private tutor, tutor at a center, babysitting, substitute teaching), but now, I've acquired a full time paraprofessional position. This job allows me to work with kids all over the middle school (my favorite level), and that makes me so happy. So, for now, at least until school hiring season (around March), I can stop worrying about some things and wear less hats. My self-worth is on the mend. I'll be okay. I realize that everything will work out at some point and that I need to be a bit more patient. "Good thing come to those who wait," right?
Now: sewing. In Fall 2012, quilting was already in my life, but not in a way that I needed it. Over the last couple of years, it has morphed into much, much more than a hobby; it's more like a necessity and a lifeline. I realize that it's unusual for a twenty-something to sew as much as I do. I am on a mission to get as many people sewing as I can, no matter what age!
Back to the lifeline part: Sometimes, I wonder what I'd be doing without sewing (probably sitting around reading, but I make time for that anyway. Really, what would I be doing???). I get extremely antsy when I haven't sewn much in a week (ask Mike!) and/or when I have too many responsibilities and not enough free sewing time. That's why, next year, I'm going to try to focus on what I want to sew. I did a much better job of this overall in 2014, but there's always room for improvement. Now, I'll quote my brilliant friend, Renee:
"Dear Self, I promise never again to sign up for a fabric challenge I am not completely inspired by. I promise not to agree to use an advanced sewing pattern that I've never heard of before, know nothing about the pattern writer, or can find any additional resources for online. I promise not to try and make a style of quilt I'm not drawn to. I promise to try to be content, if not happy with the machine, fabric, thread, etc that I have now. And I'm sorry about all the headaches I've caused you recently by not doing all these things. XOXOX -Me."
Because sewing is too much fun and too much of a blessing to be stressed about it. Say it with me and repeat!
Quilting and blogging as therapy has stretched me in other ways I couldn't have imagined a few years ago. As many of you know, I just completed my first year as President of the Central Jersey MQG, and I'm running for a second term in January. I've been acting as webmaster for going on 3 years, and I was VP before that. I've also become a teacher of quilting and a public speaker. I seriously can't wait to see what 2015 holds! Quilting has healed me and reinvigorated me to follow my dreams (corny as that sounds), whatever they end up becoming.
Here's my last thought: when people reach out to me through email, when people comment on this blog or on Instagram, when we start having funny conversations or drooling over fabric together or planning new quilts that many never even come to fruition... that puts the cherry on top of this quilting life. Sometimes, it's like you've stuck your hand in my self-worth jar and succeeded in scraping some out. So, I'm thankful for all of you, and especially my guild members, for making all of this worth it!
So, this is 25. It will be a good one. I can feel it!
Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday.