I had really high hopes for hitting the ground this year running, but somewhere last week I seem to have tripped over my feet and fallen into a wet gutter or something. I’m looking at my list of things to accomplish and I’m thinking… “who wrote all these things in here? Who thought I could get this all done?”… … …
But I am reminded of a few things. I am one person. And I don’t have to rush myself, don’t have to always be in such a hurry.
I am one person. Having a kiln tragedy, where the plates I was going to make as prototypes for a new design I wanted to release next Friday put me weeks behind. Not because I can’t plan ahead, but because I didn’t factor in an unexpected disaster. That doesn’t make me a bad planner; my plan had been to bisque fire the prototypes and get them glazed and those fired before Christmas, choose three colors from the five I’d make, make more plates the week between Christmas and New Year’s, bisque fire them last week, and glaze fire them this week.
I wound up wanting to spend more time with family the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and less time in the studio (which is not a bad thing, you know, my family is pretty stinkin’ awesome). Being a one-person show means I don’t have someone to tell to build those plates for me, or glaze those plates for me. Now it’s hard to tell myself not to rush through what I need to do — yet I know, in my heart, that rushing means I make mistakes. If I bisque fire the kiln too soon, I risk explosions if all the pieces aren’t completely bone dry yet. If I rush the glazing I risk not thinking out my color choices enough. Then I wind up with things I don’t like. I shouldn’t rush, shouldn’t hurry just to meet a deadline I made up myself.
None of this is to point out to y’all that I’m only one person — I’m pointing it out to *myself*. I tend to think that I am superwoman; that because I’ve mostly managed to do it all up until now without borking it up completely, I should sail through, right?! But then I get a kiln explosion and want to take a couple of holiday days off and the next thing I know I’m in a panic about finishing things that I’ve put on my own to-do list. I don’t have a boss, I’m not responsible to share-holders (although I do feel responsible to you, especially if I’ve told you I’m doing something by a set date). Custom orders aside, if I don’t make something by a date I and I alone chose, is that the end of the world? It’s not. And I should be easier on myself. I shouldn’t push myself, hurry myself, chide myself.
We are often our own worst critics, and we are often the person who rides ourselves the hardest. Well, I mean, I can’t speak for *everyone*… but a lot of the artists I know, a lot of my self-employed friends (especially those of us who are only children and didn’t grow up with a sibling close to our own age to help or blame things on, or to compare ourselves with), we are the toughest bosses we’ve ever had. It’s as if, when you’re self-employed, when you’re the only one responsible for your business, you have a tendency to think if you’re not working the hardest you can work, that you’re not doing enough. You’re not pulling enough in. You’re not putting yourself out there enough. You’re not making or advertising or whatever needs doing… you’re not doing enough of it.
So this is me, giving myself permission to let go sometimes. To not push so hard. I always feel like I have to hurry and do things… yet, Lao Tzu wisely says, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” If nature can get all her things accomplished without worrying about missing something on an arbitrary self-imposed checklist, I should be able to, as well. She has so many more true responsibilities than I do, and she gets it all done without rushing.