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Why failure is a wonderful motivator

by Anja
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“Failure is not an option.”

You’ve probably heard this before. Maybe this has stopped you from getting out of your comfort zone or trying something new out of fear of being unsuccessful.

That phrase comes to my mind each time I f*ck up a project, or I mess up during a drill in Krav Maga training.

Messing up a project isn’t so bad. You can always grab a seam ripper and give it another try or start over with a fresh piece of fabric.

Making a mistake in a drill could be the difference between getting injured or walking away in one piece. During practice, I land on my ass a few times while freeing myself from a chokehold on the floor and trying to run to safety. I’ve learned to get back up, start over, repeat until my body knows the drill by heart.

Fix it, keep going and don’t look back has become my motto.

Of course, getting to this point took me a while. I’m a perfectionist by heart and as Adrian Monk, with whom I share obsessive-compulsive traits, would say “it’s a blessing and a curse.”

I can take care of the tiniest of details in a sewing project, but if I mess up, you can be sure that I’ll start all over again until I get it right.

My biggest failure as a sewing newbie came early in my journey.

I’d just mastered the art of making straight pillows with cotton or canvas fabric and a zipper and chose to make my gown for a wedding.

Of all the dresses listed on the Burdastyle site, I chose an advanced one. Sewing this dress can’t be too hard, I told myself and went out with my mom to buy the required fabric. I returned home with yellow and lavender satin and couldn’t wait to get started.

I was smart enough to make a muslin first so I wouldn’t ruin the final fabric. Once I was confident enough to continue, I started working with the pattern. If you’ve ever worked with satin, you’re probably aware that it’s very slippery and, unlike cotton, it doesn’t retain its shape when cut.

Morgan dolls

Back then, I didn’t have washable ink pens or tracing paper. I figured that using carbon paper would do the trick while tracing the skirt. Yeah, right. 🙄

The black pigment had stained parts of the yellow fabric and wouldn’t come off after washing it twice! I felt like a fool, a colossal failure! Time was running out.

After crying my eyes out with mom, we decided to go back and buy more fabric. I searched for ways to stabilize satin all over the web. Finally, I found the perfect solution: starch. I purchased a bottle of spray starch and went back to work. That did the trick. I was able to finish the dress on time.

I’d love to tell you that I’ve not messed up since then, but that would be a lie.

Each project has a learning curve. Even the dolls I make now go through a trial and error phase.

It took me a few years to make a cat doll I was happy with. When I first made the Morgan doll, I’d already messed up my dress and made a weird sized shirt, but also successfully finished a few bags and some catnip-filled fishes for my cats. My strength was and still is sewing accessories.

Morgan dolls

But doll making? Not so much. I didn’t have a pattern. All I had was the old logo that I used for reference to create it. While working on the doll, I found out how much I dislike working with fleece, but the more I work with it, the easier it becomes. Just as with palm strikes, practice makes perfect.

After another fleece version of Morgan done in a couple of days, I went back to working with cotton, my all-time favorite. Morgan’s first cotton version had skinny arms and legs that I corrected since. It was so much easier to finish the doll this time around.

I’ve tried my hand at other dolls. Some turn out fine on the first try; others look ridiculous once they’re sewn together, like the bee whose legs are all screwed up, or the mermaid cat that’s way too long.

Mermaid cat

I fix it, keep going, and don’t look back.

My next challenge will be making clothes for some of my dolls. I’m not comfortable with the thought of making small things for them. I hate making little stuff. But I wasn’t happy when I accidentally got hit in the jaw during practice, either. And yet, I kept going.

Failure may not be an option, but when it shows up, it motivates me to keep learning and work even more.

And that’s the point: grabbing failure by the horns to move forward.

Comfort keeps you stagnant, and that’s the worst thing you could do to yourself.

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone? What did you do? How did it feel? Let me know in the comments!

Stay weird!

anja

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