Personal Growth
Comments 2

When What You’re Creating Doesn’t Look How You Want

“I can see it up here!” she said, tapping the side of her head, “but then when I try to draw it, it looks ridiculous.”

It was a summer weekend a few months back and I was playing a game with my fiancé and future in-laws. His mom was lamenting over her inability to draw a picture clearly. The game, Telestrations, is a combination of telephone and pictionary and triggers some of the best laughter I’ve encountered in years. It requires players to draw pictures quickly, which means eventually you’re going to look down and go wait WHAT was I trying to draw? It might even make you want to flip the table over and walk away.

This week I’ve been working on designing and creating invitations for Jared and mine’s upcoming wedding. Earlier in the year we made DIY save the dates. It went like this: we found a design we liked, got our supplies, and made them. And even though it took a lot of time and we hit a few bumps, we loved how they turned out.

The invites are NOT cooperating in the same way. It’s been like trying to put snow pants on an angry seal — a total disaster. Last week I tried to draw and design wedding invite after wedding invite. I got hand cramps, erased more lines than I drew, and walked away right back where we started (with nothing).

If you’re a creative person (and basically if you’re human you are creative…we were born to create) then you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes, we visualize something and it works out alright. But more often than not we visualize something we want to create, start to tackle the project, and watch it dissolve in front of us like a Barbie left out in 110-degree weather.

This holds true for relationships, as well, as a relationship requires creativity. When you choose to be with someone you are choosing to build something. You are both creating a new kind of life that involves both of your emotions, opinions, and quirks. And, much like these damn invites, things don’t always go according to plan.

This week I’ve been tackling the invites from a new angle, trying a new design with new paper. I went out and bought new printer ink. I went out and bought glue. I bought pens. I bought calligraphy ink. And as I stood in line at the craft store today, watching the cashier meticulously count out 52 sheets of fancy paper like she was a judge at a cat show, I couldn’t help but think we would have saved a lot of time and stress if we’d simply ordered the stupid invites. I was feeling pretty pissed. I wanted to turn to the two customers I saw poking at fake plants and Halloween decorations and shout “CRAFTING IS DEAD JUST BUY EVERYTHING PRE-MADE.”

As someone who has felt the affects of anxiety and depression throughout her life, I often get the urge to bail on things. As in, I get really really drained and exhausted and just want to press the pause button on life. I want to flip the table and walk away. And I’m here to tell you: you can. For a little bit.

Whether you’re trying to create 100+ wedding invitations, trying to create a blog, or trying to create a new relationship, give yourself permission to step away from the project for a bit. But don’t give up entirely.

If something isn’t looking exactly how you want it to look, maybe step away and give yourself permission to focus on something else. Don’t force it. Allow yourself to breathe. Trust in the fact that even if what you’re creating doesn’t look exactly how you want it to look, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be pretty damn cool. Return to it when you’re ready.

When my future mother-in-law was given the word “Nebraska” during our game of Telestrations (a state where she once lived)  she drew an amorphous blob. And when the rest of the family saw this drawing we laughed for what felt like hours. And months later we still laugh at the thought of it.

Even if her Nebraska drawing looked nothing like the shape she saw in her mind, it ended up serendipitously bringing all of us deep-gutted joy. Remember this next time you want to abandon a project completely, when you emotionally want to flip the table over, just because it’s not looking how you want it to look.

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2 Comments

  1. Recognizing changing emotions and dealing with them in a rational manner can be greatly challenging. Most people react and then reflect on their situations. You offer excellent advice about walking away, but not abandoning the situation. Our minds can only clearly focus for a period of time before clarity dissipates (temporarily). We must, however, create accountability to the situation or person by creating a finite time frame to re-address the issues. Without this commitment, things have a tendency to go unresolved. This in turn leads to mountains of unresolved problems over longer periods of time. People have a tendency at this point to withdraw from conflict resulting in a breakdown of communication. Your post addresses solutions to avoiding this path.
    Excellent post!

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