I just finished attending my first large industry event ever, QuiltCon 2018. I went into the experience with no frame of reference, no agenda, no classes or lectures scheduled and just wanted to see what it was all about. Two of my latest quilts were hanging in the show and that was honestly my biggest draw to actually attend. The show is a creative slap in the face, a strong hand picking you up when you're down, an encourager cheering you on and an overstimulating toddler shouting "watch me! watch me!" all wrapped up into one.
I walked into the show with no plans but hopes to meet some people I've admired and gotten to know over the last year through social media. And I did meet some amazing people that I will hopefully continue to have friendships with for years to come. I had in depth conversations with inspiring creatives who have been in the industry for years and whose wealth of knowledge and wisdom is astounding. I got stopped and complimented (still so strange) because some people recognized me from my Instagram. And while those moments were my main hopes for QuiltCon, making connections and finally putting faces to Instagram handles, I unintentionally had a greater experience of self. I learned that I feel like an imposter.
Throughout the whole show, I would walk and marvel at these stunning quilts. And a constant thought that replayed in my head was "I shouldn't even be here." I do not have technical skills that even come close to those of others. Want to know what I can do? I can sew a straight line. I don't know how to sew curves, foundation paper piece, hand quilt, applique, bias anything, face a quilt, etc, etc. As I would walk, I would listen in on what others were referencing in a quilt and why it was astonishing to them. I swear, 85% of the time, I had no idea what they were talking about. I couldn't even recognize WHY a quilt was so good.
And as I kept seeing and hearing more and more statements of how this type of technique is so difficult, or this color placement is so fresh, I could hear the little voice in my head say "just don't talk, pretend you know what these people are talking about". And then the voice got even more defeated "don't ask for clarifications, just accept that you don't know any of this and it's not even worth trying to learn, I won't be able to do it anyway." Eventually, this little voice in my head started being the words coming out of my mouth. I can't believe how many people I told that I am a "sewing dumb dumb" and that I "can ONLY sew a straight line." And once I heard myself say these things out loud a few times, I had this realization. What the hell are you doing Meghan? Why are you doubting yourself and discrediting everything you've accomplished in the past year? Why am I talking down to myself instead of gracefully taking in all the inspiration, words of wisdom, compliments and just let it all sink in? Self doubt is a natural part of life and a needed part of the creative process for me. It helps me question my motivations and intentions. Then, I come back around and feel confident in my choices and decisions. But, if I let self doubt run my thoughts and feelings, it can just destroy my spirit and eventually the part of me that expresses creativity.
With that said, my biggest take away from QuiltCon is that I am doing exactly what I should be doing. I am exactly where I should be. I am designing and creating quilts that 1. Fit my skill level, 2. Inspire me, and 3. Make creating accessible to virtually anyone. And that really is my goal with my creativity. I want my creativity to be accessible to those who need to find an outlet that gives them purpose, worth and joy; all the things I needed when I found quilting. And my business and skill set can grow as I grow but I don't need to doubt where I am.
I am going home with loads of color inspiration, the awareness that I put too many rules on my self with creating, and that I need to have grace with myself. I do not want the skills, talents, and passion of others to create doubt in myself. I am positive that those feelings are the LAST feelings any creative would want their work to evoke. I don't want to discredit their work and their skills, I want to honor that someone has also shared their beauty with me. It needs to be held with respect and knowledge that these vulnerable works of art are being shared with the world.