Recently I was given an extraordinary opportunity to present my doll art in an online environment that had the effect of pulling me out of my self-imposed retirement, promoting my art and teaching classes. What, I suppose, was not all that surprising was the underwhelming response I received as a result. After all, I had bowed out of doing anything public with my dolls for years and had made myself almost invisible. My reality check was just how invisible I had become.
I was at a crossroads about what I wanted to do about this. Was I just kidding myself that I could jump back into the fray and be at the same recognition level as everyone else that had been working it for years? Well, yes.
We all believe we can come back in where we left off and nothing changes. We pretend to ourselves we still have our loyal followers; we still pack in the students and our work can still be found in many of the same venues we had been featured in before. Of course, we discover to our chagrin that just because we sat it out for a few years (quite a few in my case) the reality facing us clearly lets us know this just isn’t so.
My initial reaction to my disappointment was feeling very exposed, embarrassed and ashamed that I was unable to bring in the recognition and attention this event deserved. So much was given to me and I had failed to meet my end of the bargain. Perceptions are a funny thing. At the time these were pretty strong feelings. My monkey mind went straight to the pity party. Being disappointed when things don’t come out the way you anticipate is a real ego bruiser.
So, what was I going to do about this? Throw in the towel and give it up as a bad job? Continue beating myself up over it, swearing to never do that again and crawl back into my comfort zone? Admit to myself that what I enjoy doing is simply a delightful little hobby and leave it at that? Or, was I going to review what I had in front of me, and use it to strategize how I was going to parley this experience into something I could build on?
We all come up against many crossroads in our life and there are bound to be a few decisions along the way that didn’t turn out as anticipated but did offer what you needed and not necessarily what you wanted. You chose a career path that turned out to be less than an ideal fit but you were able to use those skills someplace else that ended up being a better fit. By sheer happenstance you connected with someone and that person has been the love of your life for ever since. Sometimes we weigh our options and choose wrong and if we didn't learn anything from it then we're likely going to chose something much like it again. Sometimes circumstances outside of us dictate what happens and we have to make adjustments and look at different options or choices. There is no right or wrong about it, just life experience and how we incorporate those experiences into future decisions.
Since I want to continue pursuing my love of doll making and enjoy sharing that experience with others through teaching, I know there will be necessary steps and time to build back what I once had. Nothing we do, if we care about it, happens overnight. This means spending more time expanding my catalog of doll patterns and e-classes, making those connections that will give my work the exposure it needs to grow and introduce others to my work. I will continue blogging about doll making and its relevance to life, the universe and everything.