It's a little less than a month until my birthday, which means it time for some oof-I'm-getting-older-again omphaloskepsis. And since this is a (mostly) sewing blog, some of the following thoughts might even be sewing related! Somewhat. But no actual sewing happens, so if that's all you're looking for, move along.
Now that I've put up the disclaimer, can I just say, how perfect is it that the Colette Patterns blog just threw out the weighty question, "Has sewing helped you to dress the body you have rather than the body you wished you had?" I feel like this last year has been huge for my growth as a person, and sewing has been an integral part of it.
When I first started dabbling in this hobby, I can't say that I ever expected to confront my body image issues, or learn just how quirky my sense of style is, or even meet people from all over the world. And while Sarai was really asking more about the relationship with one's physical body, I want to say that I feel ever so grateful to sewing for helping me accept the inner person I actually am, rather than the person I sometimes wish I was. See, besides wasting time wishing my legs were skinny like other Asian girls, I've also wasted a fair amount of time wishing I was more of a "normal girl."
I've always had a hard time making friends and making sense of social situations (I'm terrible at reading body language and facial expressions, or telling what actions or types of statements are socially appropriate). It took me many years of observing my very typical female friends who were socially apt before I figured out how to mimic normal social interaction. Even now, I'm not great at it; I have mental scripts for how to behave when meeting new people, but if the situation deviates too much or goes on too long I get panicky and start detaching. I'm incredibly clumsy, get lost in imaginary worlds quite often, and once I've focused in on a task it's almost impossible for me to leave it alone (mentally, at least, since sometimes physically moving on is necessary) until I've completed it. I've always had obsessive interests and voraciously gathered information about those topics, to the bewilderment of others. It wasn't until I went to college and learned about autism spectrum disorders, though, that I realized that I wasn't just some horrible misfit. When I first learned about adults with Asperger's, it was a huge relief to know that I wasn't alone, that other women had the same experiences. I don't know if I would go so far as to self-diagnose myself as an aspie, but gosh, it's nice to just have an idea about what might be wrong with me sometimes! At the very least, I feel slightly more okay with not being as emotionally and socially adept as women are typically supposed to be.
I was telling my friends Shayna and Elaine, who are both lovely, kind, patient ladies who have done so much for my emotional development (and been so encouraging when it comes to sewing with bedsheets and dressing up for events), that what I find so safe about the sewing blogger community is that 1) we already have an eccentricity in common (not that I'm saying sewing is weird...just not mainstream!), so I don't need to be afraid of rejection for being so obsessed with sewing, and 2) it's online! I don't have to wonder about whether I'm supposed to hug to say hello, or if a handshake will do, I don't need to make awkward eye contact and small talk about the weather while wishing I could just run away and hide and squeeze Walnut...I can engage on my own terms, or not, and when I'm overwhelmed I can step away for a bit without looking unspeakably rude. Because interaction's not happening in real time, I can think carefully about what I want to say so I don't put my foot in my mouth (at least not most of the time).
You know how Anne of Green Gables talks about how rare and special it is to meet people who are of the race of Joseph, i.e. dreamers and kindred spirits like her? I feel like in the last year or so, I've "met" more lovely people who happen to be sewasauruses, who I feel understand me and that I connect with, than I have in my whole life previously. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration (but only a little bit!), but it's really so rare for me to feel like I want to actually get to know someone better (beyond a discussion about the weather, or maybe cats, if they're amenable), or that someone might *gasp* even want to know me better, or read what I have to say! I've moved so many times in the past few years, and every move has been a source of anxiety because I knew I would have to make a new set of friends. Sewing has brought me the kind of delightfully geeky community that I always wanted, but didn't know I wanted, and didn't even know was possible, and it doesn't matter where I move to because you all live inside my computer, right? So for all of that, I'm forever grateful.
I've seriously never felt so comfortable in my own skin, so free to be myself and not have to pretend to be someone else or apologize (unless actually necessary) for who I am. And because of that, I finally feel somewhat comfortable with saying I want to
TL;DR: Sewing has put me in touch with other fantastic ladies around the world whose virtual friendship I'm incredibly grateful for, and somehow that's made me feel empowered enough to have a birthday party? Oh, and if you've met me IRL before, or meet me at some time in the future, thank Shayna and Elaine for teaching me how to not be as unwittingly obnoxious and clueless as Sheldon Cooper or BBC's Sherlock.