I hate when people talk in hypotheticals, so I’ll spare you the mystery of my new little venture, which is actually more of a hobby. I’ve been making jewelry for a little over a year, for a creative outlet that doesn’t require a computer screen. I enjoy it and it saves me buying a lot of poorly made jewelry to match my wardrobe when I can make my own. And they make great gifts!
I started getting a little more serious about it last month, taking some nice photos of my pieces and posting them on Etsy just to see if there might be any interest. Immediately I realized that the process of staging the pieces, photographing and editing the photos, and then describing each piece was incredibly time consuming… and hard. How do I become my own ear model for photos? How do I name these beads? They’re blue, and I made earrings out of them! What else can be said? I felt so… inadequate. After working at the top of my work pyramid for so long, I felt strangely vulnerable not knowing more about this craft, especially if I had any hope of monetizing from it. When my cousin said she connected with a local shop owner about possibly selling my jewelry, which should have been really exciting news, I was petrified. No! I’m not ready! I’m not sure if my stuff is good enough! Why do our brains tell us these things? Perhaps a little bit of self-criticism can drive us to do our best, but in a lot of cases, it can leave us stuck in the mud going no where.
This whole process immediately brought me back to a time in my life when I was still figuring out who I was as a young professional. I remember attending networking events and choking on my words when someone asked me what I do. Web designer. Even though I’d been dabbling for a few years and just started to get serious about the business, it was still incredibly hard to say those words, let alone say them with the kind of confidence that oh-so-many super savvy techies do nowadays. Except they have way trendier titles, like digital strategists, solution architects and front-end wizards.
Of course the more I worked, the more I learned and the more confident I became. It happens. With education, experience and above all, dedication and absolutely no restful sleep. Seven years later, I am admittedly pretty rusty with CSS, but I know more than anyone should really wish to know about social networks. There’s always more to learn, and I’ve been trying to remind myself of this fact as I fumble through my little craft business concept. I cracked open some books, and a few weeks later now I know what potato pearls, bali beads and gemstone nuggets are, and I can describe them pretty swiftly now.
The trick is not letting that first feeling of “what the hell am I doing” discourage you from moving forward. I would venture to say that the same feeling presents itself within every start up, and those brave innovators decide then and there to give up in early defeat, or just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and figure it out, trying to make as few mistakes as possible. So whenever you hear that little voice telling you, No! I can’t do this!, turn down the volume, because guess what? You very likely can!