I few months ago I had this vision for a quilt project. Using only left over fabric from another quilt project I would make a blue/purple peacock on a background that went from yellow to orange to red. I was super excited when I started working on the project. Check out that eye!!!
I was so excited I did not read the pattern closely and ended up piecing the project backwards. I thought that was pretty cool because I think I have enough fabric to make another one in reverse, so green to blue to purple background with a yellow/orange peacock. If I made the second one the correct way it would look like they were mirror images.
Then I started scrolling through other people’s interpretation of the pattern on Instagram, realizing that what I was treating as background was actually the peacock’s feathers.
Now my idea feels stupid to me. How did I not catch that the feathers make up the background?! I’ve spent more than 30 hours hand piecing this project, and I don’t want to look at it. I don’t want to do another version mirrored version of my same stupid idea.
Some of you may be tempted to write a comment about how much you like what I made and reassure me that my idea is not stupid.
I am gong to invite you not to do that.
If I don’t believe that for myself either I won’t believe it from you, or I will need you to remind me forever. This is why telling someone who is anxious that everything is okay is a waste of your time. If a person cannot do it for themselves, then it won’t stick when you do it. You’ll have to keep doing it. Forever.
It is also not effective to tell people who are anxious to calm down or stop worrying. That’s roughly the same as me telling you not to think about Abraham Lincoln.
Seriously, stop thinking about Abraham Lincoln.
Stop thinking about the beard and the top hats or the Emancipation Proclamation.
STOP THINKING ABOUT ABRAHAM LINCOLN ALREADY!!!!
To which any sane person would say, “Every time I try to stop thinking about him you remind me of him, and I start all over again.” That process is exactly what happens to an anxious person. Each time you tell them to calm down they are reminded of their anxiety and start all over again.
So what to do instead? Ask people what they need to handle whatever it is they are worried about. If they don’t know, I either invite them to take a few deep breaths or take a few moments to think about it. I do not solve the problem for them. Solving the problems leaves ME with the burden of relieving THEIR anxiety. No thank you.
Where does this leave me and the peacock? First I need to make peace with how my original vision is different. Then I need to decide if I want to spend another 30+ hours making another version or if I want to move on.
One of my favorite things about quilting without deadlines is that I can put something away for awhile and look at it again when some of the original emotion has worn off. So away goes the peacock for a bit.
Until then, I’ll be thinking about Abraham Lincoln.