Knitting Away From Anxiety
As always, things have been crazy around here the last few weeks and to add to the fun I’m finally recovering from a wonderful sinus infection that kicked in just after attending a wedding and a birthday. Since I’ve been a bit fuzzy from the pressure & headaches I’ve been listening to podcasts that always pick me up & make me think. You know, the ones that you don’t really want to listen to when you‘re multitasking because you might miss something important. This week it was Chalene Johnson‘s Build Your Tribe Podcast since I had a nice backlog to catch-up on. While listening to this episode, I had an epiphany about my knitting obsession: One of the main reasons I fell in love with knitting was because before I had ever knit a single stitch, I was given permission to fail.
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I used to (and sometimes still do) suffer from extreme anxiety because of my perfectionism and intense self-consciousness. For as far back as I can remember, I always expected perfection from anything I did. If it couldn’t be exactly the way I envisioned it, it wasn’t worth doing. I was the kid in second grade who got a large LEGO set, locked myself in my room until it was built, and then dysplayed it on a shelf exactly as it was pictured on the front of the box. When my little brother finally climbed up and knocked it down, I gave up on having it at all because a piece was lost & therefore the whole set was now useless to me since it could never be exactly like the picture again. I also had really bad insomnia from grade school until just a few years ago (& sometimes still have bouts) because I was so concerned that I hadn’t lived up to the unrealistic image of myself that I had created.
In 2007, I discovered Stitch & Bitch by Debbie Stoller. In some of her beginning knitting instructions she gave me permission to not only fail, but to expect failure & to be ok with it, after all, “it’s only knitting.” You can always take it out & try again.
The truth is, most of my expectations that I had set for myself in life were completely unreasonable & many were down-right impossible. I think there are a lot of us out there who do this to ourselves & we make our lives much more difficult because we’re setting ourselves up for failure & dissapointment.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t set lofty goals, far from that. I‘m a big fan of setting and achieving huge, life-changing goals but I’ve also learned that you have to allow yourself the grace to fail a bit before you get there. You may not reach your end product the way you thought, but if you try to enjoy the journey & learn from your mistakes you’ll have that many new tricks to use in your next project.
Because of the freedom from perfectionism I gained through knitting, I was able to actually enjoy my hobby & that mentality started to branch out to other aspects of my life. I adore Steven & Stephen for their carefree abandonment of the “knitting rules” & their positive, empowering attitudes. Taking classes with them really did change my life because it made me realize that I didn’t have to be trapped in a job that was slowly draining my life away & I didn’t have to put up with some of the less wonderful parts of marriage that had crept into our lives. I could take control of my life again & do something that brings me joy while also sharing that joy with others.
To be completely honest, there have been many times since I started designing that I was so completely stressed and nervous about how a pattern would go over, that I couldn’t sleep & was terrible to be around. There have also been times that I was so certain that my design was spot on that I posted it & didn’t loose a bit of sleep or family time over it. It’s definitely been a huge learning opportunity over the years. Every time I think that it’s just too much & want to curl in a corner & hide, I try to step back, learn something new to do (or not do) next time, & keep moving forward.
Not everything works out the way you envisioned, & that’s ok. The good news is, there’s always more yarn & it’s only knitting.
I hope you’re having a great week & enjoying the lovely Fall weather. I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below about what your biggest takeaway from knitting or crocheting has been. If you have a favorite podcast to listen to when you just can’t handle doing anything but listening & thinking, I’d love to know that, too!