Last week, after someone asked a question in one of the scrapbook groups I’m in on Facebook, I found myself reading my own blog. Specifically, some of my posts about scrapbooking. I went in search of a post I thought I’d written about how to fit in a lot of journaling on a layout (turns out, I didn’t write a blog post about it; instead, it was one of the lessons from my Big Picture Scrapbooking classes), but as I scrolled and read, I noticed a couple of things:
- I’ve written a lot of posts that could be helpful for other scrapbookers. (Please note it took me about five minutes to write that sentence because I don’t want to be all tooting-my-own-horn, you know?)
- Almost every single post I’ve written about scrapbooking either starts with or includes some sort of preemptive apology.
What’s a preemptive apology? It’s where I purposefully cut off the mockery of my internal voices by acknowledging their objections up front. IE: yes, I know scrapbooking is dumb, yes I know it’s silly for a grown-ass woman to be playing with colored pencils like a kindergartener high on new school supplies, yes I know I’m not an artist, yes I know this is terribly self-indulgent, yes I know my effort in writing this is pointless because I’m not now nor will I ever be sitting at the Cool Scrapbooking Ladies table.
If I say it out loud then there’s no point in the critics saying it, right?
(I have some pretty deep connections to the preemptive apology, going all the way back to…the beginning of my life, probably.)
These two realizations made me feel sort of despondent, but also sort of annoyed at myself. To clarify my realization, I looked at my Instagram posts about scrapbooking and, yes, they hold true there, too. Decent content, preemptive apologies.
And then, same week, I saw this meme:
I had to look up what TV show it’s from, as I didn’t watch it (it’s called New Girl). I don’t even know if I would like the character saying those things. I actually don’t rock polka dots (too trypy for me) and I can’t stand glitter. (I do brake for birds.)
But that stupid meme was an ah-ha for me.
Because, yep: I have touched glitter today. And by "glitter" I mean puffy stickers & pretty paper & alphabet stamps & watercolor paint. Probably somewhere on my hands there’s an ink stain, and probably it is aqua or purple. I have 8 million different script fonts installed on my computer. I have more scrapbooking supplies than I could use in a lifetime and last night I added more to an online shopping cart. I know how to blend markers and which inks are the best for longevity and how to use Photoshop and which photo printing service makes the best prints. I have two bowls full of washi tape, and yes, thanks for asking, they ARE precious to me. (The washi tape rolls and the bowls.) I like being crafty and I like that some of my family photos have meaning because I’ve told their stories.
And none of that makes me weak, lame, silly, pathetic, stupid, or pointless.
Even though in my head I feel weak, lame, silly, etc.
This ah-ha made me ask myself: Who am I preemptively apologizing to? The Queen Bees from high school (who don’t actually follow my social media anyway). The cool guy in my head, an amalgam of mountain biker & motorcycle rider and all the qualities those two identities entail. The bad-ass trail runner girls who are tiny and strong and can knock out twenty miles without even breathing hard. My husband, who tries to be supportive but just really doesn’t understand this aspect of me at all. The alternate version of myself who made different choices and ended up successful in meaningful ways. The friends I used to scrapbook with who don’t scrapbook anymore. And yes, all the ladies at the Cool Scrapbookers table.
I’m sick of preemptive apologies.
I’m sick of feeling embarrassed over the things I love.
I’m almost fifty years old. If now is not the time to exorcise the critical voices in my head, that time will never come at all.
The fact that I try to touch glitter every day doesn’t mean I’m not strong or smart.
It just means that making stuff makes me happy.
And while the truth is that yes: people have, in real life and with their actual voices, said negative things to me about my hobby (some sly and passive-aggressive, some abrupt and openly ridiculing), a good portion of the shame comes from the chorus in my head.
So I have set myself a goal. I actually have been working on this for most of my forties anyway: be who I am. Be instead of perform. I am trying to do this in all aspects of my life, but I haven’t really embraced my crafty self. My scrapbooking self, who has nurtured me through many things.
I’m not going to apologize anymore. I’m not going to feel embarrassed.
I’m going to scrapbook, and I’m going to sometimes share what I make, and I’m not going to say I’m sorry.
And those voices in my head?
They can feel free to unfollow me.