I never had a personal motto. In fact, I’ve been known to publicly denounce motivational quotes as being tacky.
I had a similarly low opinion of professional collaborations. Perhaps it was because of my Eastern European background, perhaps it was due to my innate distrust of people; but I had long made myself believe that working with other crocheters would be akin to selling my secrets to the competition. Not to mention, the handful of previous collaboration experiences I had were all to a similar extent disappointing, frustrating, and demoralizing. All in all, the thought of working with others made my skin crawl.
It is almost ironic then, that when the phrase No man is an island flashed through my mind late last year, I not only looked up who its author was; I adopted it as my 2020 motto. In an instant, it made me rethink my perspective on working with others, and where I want to see myself in the world of crochet.
I challenged myself to reach out of my shell and start building meaningful professional relationships. I was empowered and motivated by a very positive collaboration experience last summer. Back then, an editor of Your Crochet and Knitting Magazine based in London reached out to me and commissioned a design for their publication. Ultimately, the Rainbow Purse I designed was featured on the cover of their issue 13.
(Pssst: This pattern will be available on jakigu.com and Etsy later in May!)
I know I still have much, much to learn as a crocheter. Yet, without vanity, I also recognize that I have gathered much experience that I can pass onto the next generation of crocheters.
Fueled by the desire to help others learn the craft that brings me comfort and peace, I took a giant leap out of my comfort zone. From writing business plans to writing emails to answering calls for collaboration, I put myself out there. It didn’t always turn out to be what I imagined nor was it always pleasant, but I worked through some pretty serious mental blocks as well as professional speed bumps.
I was savoring my sense of accomplishment, waiting for the perfect moment to announce to the world the end result of my effort: the launch of Stitchcraft crochet classes in Indianapolis, Indiana. They were set to start this spring, and my early feedback had me more than hopeful that by fall, I might be quite busy.
It had seemed as if the stars were aligned. It wasn’t easy but there was nothing frightening about the process, either. When it was all said and done, I asked myself repeatedly, What was I afraid of? Why did I wait this long to take the step that felt so natural?
And then, something unimaginable happened.
Need I say more?
To say these past 6 weeks were anything but an emotional roller coaster would be a lie. It feels cynical to be writing this post (after having written and discarded a dozen others, unable to fully verbalize how I felt about this all), when classes of any kind all over the world have been cancelled, and working with others has overnight became a taboo concept.
At the same time, complaining at this point would be dismissive to those who are truly struggling.
Yes, I had to adjust to some unexpected challenges. But at the end of each day – however stressful, exhausting, frustrating, or disappointing – I was able to lay my head on my pillow with humbling peace. There is still roof over our head and drinkable water running though our faucets; the air outside is fresh and clean; my husband gets to – at least for the time being – keep his job; and my family and friends are all healthy and safe.
And that’s way more than millions of people worldwide can say.
So I am going to leave you with a short video I created about a month ago for my Instagram. In retrospect, I don’t remember how I found the time in all the chaos- but I am glad it’s here. Because I truly feel the strength of humanity stems from our ability to find peace and silver lining in any circumstances.