Every now and then, I get in a creative mood and I feel it wholeheartedly. It’s different from feeling indifferent to what we’re having for dinner or like I could watch that movie or not watch it and be just fine. I yearn to satisfy the impulse to create. Similar to a food craving, where I have to eat cheese RIGHT THEN. I want to craft something RIGHT THEN. I believe that when we yearn for something in this way, we should do our utmost to fulfill the urge. I believe this in terms of both food and desires. Example: sometimes I’ll crave a huge salad, usually after I have spent days eating junk. My body wants me to eat salad because it NEEDS fiber and vitamins. So I do it and everyone’s happy. Same with hunger of the emotional type.
So I was feeling artsy and planned this past weekend to go to the fabric store to buy fabric and a pattern to make HARRY POTTER ROBES for Hubs and me to wear to the upcoming premier of the first part of the seventh and final HP movie (and for Halloween). I went to the fabric store and, though it tends to be a black hole into which I lose hours of my life, I was generally happy (especially since there were so many sales!) and ready for sewing when I came out.
But really, the best part of the story is yet to come and happened before I went to the fabric store. Last week, I was lucky to speak to two very close friends on the phone, both of whom I hadn’t spoken to in a month plus. Very early in each conversation, both friends told me how very creative they had been feeling lately and how they had both either already started doing something artsy or had plans to do so that weekend. Additionally, my aunt, who is a fantastic fiber artist, published a blog post on Wednesday of last week about how therapeutic it is for her to spend time in the studio. How amazing that these three women shared this emotional yearning with me! I loved it because it reaffirmed my connections to them and also reaffirmed the need I felt to honor this part of myself.
For some scientists, I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in how well your science is going and define your worth in this way. One thing that made early graduate school so difficult for me is that laboratory science, unless you’re really lucky, fails 95% of the time the first time you try something. It takes a lot of work and learning to get to the point at which you know enough to plan your experiments well and are able to troubleshoot when they don’t work, which means that a lot of [especially early] science is just failure. So I struggled and struggled at the beginning of grad school, trying to define myself through science, and so I felt like a loser most of the time. It wasn’t until I was on the brink of quitting and started to see a counselor that I found some relief. She encouraged me to find other ways to define myself. I started to volunteer and I started to do crafts again and focus more on things that I loved that were good in my life. It took me about three years of hard work and praying, but now I know that grad school is exactly where I’m supposed to be. So in the words of my sweet aunt, “Creating is important after all.”