What I Wish I Had Known When I Was Starting Out

This past week, following on from the Craft, Hobby and Stitch trade show I attended back in February, has seen me go from dreaming of becoming a fabric designer to actually selling my designs and thus, becoming one!  That’s on top of working with another fabric manufacturer to further develop one of my collections.  So yes, it’s been an exciting week for me.  A dream come true.  It’s made me a little retrospective, in a good way, thinking about how I got here.  And then this morning one of my favourite bloggers, Bonnie Christine, posted an interesting new series on her blog about her creative journey.

Inspired by her post, I also decided to reflect and write a letter to myself at the very early stages of my creative journey to run my own little business and become a surface pattern designer.

Dear 2006 Diane,

First and foremost, it’s all going to be ok.  It’s not going to feel like it for a long time.  It doesn’t feel like it now.  But hold on to the knowledge and truth that it’s going to be ok.  You’re going to be ok.  After many years of part-time freelancing, you’re now on the cusp of major changes in your life, both personal and career.  Trust your gut instincts.  Believe in yourself and the dreams you have for yourself and the next phase of your life.  Your fragile self-esteem will continue to take knocks.  Just know that they’ll get less and less as you believe in your abilities as a designer, creative soul and business owner.  Everything that has gone before you, will shape you for what’s next.  Character building, as your Dad tells you!

Be patient.  Don’t be give up.  You’re going to feel like it many, many times.  Nothing happens when you think, or hope, it will.  Everything takes much longer than you anticipate.  If you think you can do something in a week, add another week.  You’re going through such big changes in your life, one minute you’re Mumma to four children, homeschooling the youngest and 20 yrs married.  Within a blink of an eye, you find yourself getting divorced and with an empty nest.  Be kind to yourself.  It’s all going to have an affect on your hopes and dreams for your career and that whole “what’s next?” feeling.  Take the time to look after yourself and know that it’s ok when you feel like you’re not making any progress.  You will  be.  It.  Just. Takes.  Time.

Life happens.  Embrace it.  You’re going to run the gamut of emotions in the next few years.  From the utter desperate loss and loneliness of grief to the incredible joys of becoming a grandmother – yes you!  A grandmother to two girls and a boy – Jorja, Noah and Poppy.  They will be the joy in the midst of a lot of emotional pain and brokenness.  Many times, they will be your inspiration along your creative and business journey.  Oh and re-marrying!  That’s going to feel out of left field.  Go with it!  All of this will become important to your journey.  You’re going to experience a lot of heartache and there will be days that will leave you thinking “nothing worse can happen”, but it does.  Don’t despair.  You will get through it.  And these experiences will help you onwards and forwards with your business and your creative endeavours.  They will become part of who you are and you’re going to be able to help others too as a result of what you’re going to go through.

Keep learning.  Do something every day towards your goals and dreams.  Learn something new.  Trial and error is ok.  You know that anyway.  Keep believing it.  Keep playing.  Technology is constantly changing.  Don’t worry about it.  You’re so smart, you’ll keep going with it.  Keep drawing.  Keep sewing.  Keep making stuff.  All of this will help with your work and your designs.  Learn new techniques.  Challenge yourself to try something different.  Be wise.  There’s a lot of fluff and stuff out there.  Don’t get distracted.  It’s easily done.  You don’t need to take every. single. online. course.  Use your gut instincts.  You know what your dream is.  Be selective and wise about what course you do.  There are some exceptional ones out there.  You’ll find them.  Just stay focused.

You’re not too old.  You’re going to worry about this alot.  You’re going to see so many young people, young women in particular, wanting to work in the same industry.  It’s going to feel intimidating.  Don’t let it.  Don’t overthink it.  Don’t look at what they’re doing.  Your life; you experiences; your art and your designs are uniquely you.  Those that love your work won’t care how old you are.  It doesn’t matter.  This is your time now.  You’ve spent over 20 yrs raising your family.  Oh and by the way, your kids are going to be ok too.  In fact, they’re going to be amazing and will be your biggest champions alongside that wonderful husband of yours.  You’re going to be so proud of them.  Just remember, you’re not too old.

Try and enjoy the journey.  Take notes.  Even through the tough times, continue to keep a note of what you do.  You’re going to help others.  You’re going to inspire so many other women, especially younger women.  Young Mums too.  Your experience as a Mum and business owner and creative soul will inspire and will be the foundation of another part of your business.  You’ll be amazed at what you’re going to learn over the next 10yrs that will eventually help you to help others.  Love the journey.  The peaks and troughs.  All of it is part of who you are and how you get to where you want to be.  Listen to your husband.  Alot.  He’s got your back.  He’s your business partner and he knows your weaknesses and strengths.  Don’t suffer on your own.  Go to him and tell him your woes, your insecurities and fears.  Take time out to sit in the sunshine.  To go on long walks.  Remember how much you loved gardening?  Start doing that again.

My final words of wisdom to you; let go of anything that no longer serves you.  Be done with it.  Forgive.  Move on.  Don’t overthink.  Keep your eyes on those dreams and goals.  They’re within your reach.  You’ll be amazed at what you’re going to achieve.

with so much love,
2016 Diane – 52yrs old – can you believe that?!

Thanks to Bonnie for the inspiration to write this post.  Such perfect timing.  Why not write yourself a letter, thinking about what you wished you’d known when you started out?  It’s quite cathartic.  If you do, I’d love to read it, so please let me know