I am an optimistic worrier. I go throughout my day (and my life) in a chronic, but manageable, state of stress (it’s like a low grade fever that won’t quit). I find myself anxious about how much there is to do, worrying about others’ opinions, wondering whether or not I’m enough, anxious about failure, worried about success, fearful of letting down the people I love… Yet, in spite of my inclination toward stress and worry, I always see the silver lining and believe that – whatever is going on – I’ll get through it. It’s a bit of a silly mixture of traits, but I yam what I yam. 😉
Why am I talking about this on a knitting blog? Because I know I’m not the only one who struggles with worry, and I also happen to know that we spend far too much energy worrying about things we either can’t control, or that ultimately don’t matter. Worry can affect our love for knitting and our ability to maintain momentum on a project. Worry can interrupt us, waylay us and even stop us in our tracks. It can prevent us from attending a new knitting group (what if they don’t like me? what if they’re all better knitters than me?), or trying a new technique (what if I can’t figure it out? what if I make a mistake? what if I get stuck?), or even wearing our latest finished sweater to a fiber festival (what if everyone notices my mistakes?).
Worry. Gets. In. The. Way.
To quote Elizabeth Zimmerman – there are no tragic consequences in knitting. You might run into a problem you’ve not encountered before, drop a stitch, mix up a cable, confuse the instructions, spill wine on your project or run out of yarn. There are 2001 ways we can mess something up, and all of them are either fixable or figure-out-able (to quote Marie Forleo).
Knitting is a form of art, and art isn’t about perfection – it’s about the creative process and the ability to express ourselves in a tangible way. Why do we expect ourselves to be perfect?
So what if you drop a stitch? You can fix that. So what if you end up with one stitch too many or one stitch too few? You can fix that, too. And for practically everything else, there’s Google.
If we let uncertainty and potential failure get in our way, we’ll never finish anything; we have to be willing to tie a little optimism to the outcome. If things don’t turn out right the first time (and trust me, sometimes they won’t), we have the luxury of trying again – and the more we work at something, the better we’ll get. Frogging is a fresh start, not a failure.
Next time you run into a knitting problem (or heck, even a life problem), ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?” Then brace yourself for the ride and start pedaling.