I Am Hard On Myself and Other Things I’m Afraid To Tell You

Here, I work on a current knitting project. My daughter captured this scene last week. I was so absorbed, I didn’t know that she had my camera, so this shot captures everything–the pile of projects behind me that I haven’t gotten to, my soda water habit, my un-showered self, and yes, my being incredibly hard on myself.

I know that about myself, but what I didn’t know is that when I’m feeling this way–frustrated about something not working, angry with myself for not picking up a new skill quickly, disappointed with myself for making a mistake–that it is SO evident in my body. My defeated stature struck me hard. More than that, the fact that my 6 year old daughter caught it on the camera made me realize that it is what she sees. She, who struggles with perfectionism herself, sees her mother like this . . . hmmm.  Now, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself about it (ha ha), but it did strike me that I am literally a model for her. I don’t want what this photo captures for her, I want her to be gentle with herself, accepting of challenges, willing to make a mistake, patient with frustration.  Uh-huh . . . . something to think about, something to bring into my own sphere of thought, something to do for myself.

I post this in my commitment to contribute to the effort to be more transparent and as genuine as possible about my work, my craft and the realities of my life.  I want to take this moment to thank Ez and Jess for encouraging this sort of communication in the blog-o-sphere and it won’t be the last time I share Things I’m Afraid To Tell You.  I want to thank my readers, too, for the kind comments that you all leave when I share something that scares me.

I was going to just leave this post at the above revelation, but ah well, I’m just going to dive in and then hit post so I don’t change my mind. Here is a list of Things I’m Afraid to Tell You.

I am afraid that people won’t think I’m good enough.

I am afraid that people will think I’m a fraud.

I am afraid that people won’t think I’m talented.

I am envious of people that don’t worry about money.

I have a hard time telling people that I want my blog to be my business.

I am paralyzingly indecisive.

I compare myself to others all the time and regularly think I’m not as good as . . .

I am afraid I’m not a good mother – too much yelling, too hard on them, not present enough.

I neglect home and family duties to try and keep my work and this blog afloat.

I would be embarrassed to show photos of my very undesignerly, messy house.

Okay – I’m freaking out, is that enough??

xo anne

I wanted to add a post script that my mother sent me.  This also echoes what many of you have commented on or included in messages sent to me via email. I think this quote is beautiful and reminds us all how important to be our true selves, including in front of our children.  Thanks Mom!

“Shame is the fear of disconnection. It’s – ‘is there something about me that if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?’ In order for connection to happen we have to allow the vulnerability for ourselves to be seen, really seen, and to know what is seen is the true, beautiful essence of who we are. Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and the struggle for worthiness, and it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, connection and love.” – Brene Brown

  1. You know, we have different points in common (like : 1, 2, 3, 5, 7)…
    scary enough?
    We are only human…
    xxxxx Alessandra

    • anne

      Tis true! human we are. Thanks so much for your ongoing support Alessandra! Glad you are with me on at least a partial list 😉

  2. Sarah

    Thank you for being so honest with your readers. When I read your list of Things I’m Afraid to Tell You, it was as though someone had read my mind about my own fears and insecurities.

    • anne

      Thanks Sarah

  3. Sarah

    I can see what you mean about not wanting to model that hard-on-yourself perfectionism for your daughter, but I also see a lot of love behind that photo. I think to our family members, even our difficulties sometimes become very dear.

    (Oh, but the one about being afraid you’re not a good mother…me too, just exactly.)

    • anne

      I love that you see that love in the photo. I think you are right. You made me look at it in a different light.

  4. Leti

    I worry about almost all the same things. And my son is too little to capture me on camera like this but I’m afraid he sees me like this far too often. Remind yourself to relax and take a break every now and again. Things don’t always need to be perfect… And your blog is wonderful and I think you are extremely talented! Just one little opinion from far away Germany… 🙂

    • anne

      Thanks so much Leti.

  5. I think we should all make a pact to post photos of our exceedingly messy houses at the same time someday. I wager it would make us all feel better.

    Oh, and those people who don’t feel insecure about their work? They are usually the ones with less talent. Being uncertain of your art is what makes you work harder at it, it’s what makes you good at it. And I also se the love in that image your daughter shot. Hard to imagine she won’t respect that commitment someday when she’s old enough to understand what you were doing.

    How’s the sleep…?


    • anne

      Sleep is better. I want your email Samantha. I can’t find your card. Will you get in touch with me at flaxandtwine (at) gmail (dot) com. I miss you!! Thanks for your support 🙂

  6. Anonymous

    I passed the words & went straight to the photo…I thought how beautiful you are, how you were so immersed in something you love, how cheery & lived/loved your surroundings looked. Those were my first thoughts. Then I read the words & my heart thumped – is it me or you we’re talking about here? Could have been either. It’s good to know that others feel so exactly the same – it’s good, too, for the kids to know that this is a part of life as we know it & that support & love comes along, too. You’ll be digging this photo out in the future for pep talks!!

    Be well…

  7. Anonymous

    in your humanity you still inspire me…even more so now that I can identify with you…

    • anne

      Thank you.

  8. Cricket

    I think we are all in the same boat. I want you to remember meeting a lady at the Loopy Ewe with a purse of hope, do you remember? I saw a very put together self assured woman standing in front of me telling me how I could do anything I wanted to do. That woman is strong,smart,talented, selfless, beautiful and most of all a role model for many especially your daughter. I see a person giving it her all and accomplishing every task she takes on no matter how hard. (determination and drive are good qualities to pass on.)

    • anne

      Cricket, hi! thanks so much for commenting. You are so kind and you make me feel great! I hope you are making progress on writing up your pattern. Let me know when you are ready for me to take some product shots of it and feature it on the blog. It is GORGEOUS!

  9. I want to reach through the screen and give you a big hug! Thank you for your honesty. I hope you can see from the comments that we ALL feel these things, and many more we don’t say out loud. What is important is that you realize that they aren’t true! You are good enough EXACTLY as you are. How wonderful that you love your little girl enough to not want her to feel saddled with the same insecurities, that alone speaks volumes about what a terrific parent you are. Take comfort in the fact that we all are feeling many of the same things, and then give yourself a break. Try to stop and ask yourself, “what would I tell my friend/sister, etc. . . if they were in this situation or feeling this way?” I’ll bet you would be supportive and kind, now try doing that for yourself, you are so worth it!

    • anne

      Maureen, thanks so much. Seeing this photo does make me think, what would I want my daughter to say to herself in this situation. Then, I just need to turn to myself and be just as gentle. Thanks so much for your comment!

  10. Thank you for your honesty. I can relate to most of what you wrote. We are so hard on ourselves, trying to do everything perfectly, and we shouldn’t be.

    • anne

      Thanks Bethany. agreed!

  11. I love this post! Thank you for being so real. I often feel a lot the same way. I once read in a singer’s biography that he worried people would expose him as a fraud. That he really couldn’t sing and all of his popularity was a big hoax. I really could relate (in my non-popular, non-singer normal person sort of way). I think it’s our human nature to compare our weaknesses to others strengths.

    • anne

      Shatzi, thanks so much for your comment. Isn’t it crazy how we can believe this about ourselves!

  12. Firstly, I do not know 🙂 However … when I saw this image of you looking somewhat like Auguste Rodin’s ‘Le Penseur’ … I was immediately struck by the beautiful strength of your body. Wonderful embodiment. If your daughter experiences how you embody complexity ie malaise mixed with might, she will be being given permission by you to have a complex shadow self, always on the way to becoming. Read this some time: http://jungianwork.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/whatever-happened-to-psychotherapy-a-jungian-rant/

    • anne

      I love how you look at this photo. Thank you for your thoughts and your link. Malaise Mixed with Might! yes. I love that.

    • anne

      Thank you. I will check it out!

  13. Anne,
    I could’ve written this exact same post about myself. I appreciate your honesty and ability to share, and know you are far from alone in feeling these things.

    Much much love. Cannot wait for next weekend! xo

    • anne

      thanks dear allegra! I appreciate your ever an ongoing support. Can’t wait to spend time with you!! xo anne

  14. Anonymous

    Your transparent sharing and post were like spring water to my soul. Perfection is truly the demon that separates us from our own beauty, making every flaw so magnified…no balance of the goodness your life and blog create. Think of all those busy little and big fingers happily crafting from the heart, my goodness dear girl, you have led us back to the Shaker adage of hands to service, hearts to God…, love you for it and just for the record you look amazing! Enjoy your life, you certainly have enriched mine. Sending you a million soapy bubbles! Anita

    • anne

      Anita, Perfection is so tough. Why is it that we need to be reminded of the other stuff? the good, the benefit that comes from all we do is everywhere around us. Thanks so much for the reminder. xo anne

  15. Kelly

    Thank you for sharing. As someone who follows several blogs and regularly peruses the boards on Pinterest, it is to feel like I’m not doing enough, not creative enough, not fun enough, etc. But at the end of the day, all my daughter wants is ME. I AM ENOUGH! And, so are you!

    • anne

      kelly, You definitely ARE enough! thank you. anne

  16. stacie

    Your post really hit home for me today. I was having one of those days where I was feeling envious of others, overwhelmed and frustrated with the slow pace of my business. The funny thing is I shared my feelings with my 15 year old son who offered true words of wisdom. That in itself made me feel like I was doing something right!

  17. Michelle

    I’m hearing you…

  18. Ok, I don’t know if this is going to make any sense at all, but in response to this post I want to tell you that ever since I met you in the Life in the Fishbowl class (a year ago?) I have watched in awe as you took your blog to where it is now. Your creativity, drive, work ethic, your devotion- it’s all so clear here. But more importantly to me, is a reality in this space that feels so relatable- I never come away from your posts feeling “jeez…I’ll never be that good”, which unfortunately is a response I struggle against at a lot of other blogs. I come from yours feeling happy and inspired.
    One particular post of yours is a shining example of being real: Your Harry Potter Birthday party post…in particular, a marvelous photo of your son swooping around during a make-believe quidditch game riding on a swiffer. That has honestly done more to remind me of what is important and what is ‘enough’ than just about anything out there. You obviously had fun planning that party- and the details you fit in were astounding…but that swiffer made it clear that you know that the real point of it all is to keep it real, and let some details maybe not be ‘perfect’, because that can get in the way of enjoying the fun.

    Of all the amazing work you post here, and all the gorgeous projects you create, I hope it doesn’t bother you that I’ve latched on to this one- I hope you see that to me it represents why I love reading ALL of your posts, and why I wish your husbands move was taking you to Milwaukee instead- because I’d invite you to my non-decoraty house and let you see the chaos of unfinished projects in my studio.

    • anne

      oh Megan,
      what a sweet, kind and thoughtful response. Yes, a year ago we met! It is amazing to see how the blog has changed, I know we both have. I have loved seeing your art and how it has progressed. Really, I so appreciate that you have been able to relate to the blog in a positive way. I would love to meet face to face some day. Please let me know if you are ever through Baltimore!

  19. MyArk

    It is okay to be human and fallible. We all are and thrive in spite of it all. As you have read others posts, you know that you are not alone in your fears and concerns. You seem aware of the personal things in your life that need polishing up, and that is half the battle. Honesty, integrity, creativity, and love. These are good things that are quite evident in your posts. Keep up the great work.

  20. anne

    Read this. This is why I love my mom, she sent it to me today:
    “Shame is the fear of disconnection. It’s – ‘is there something about me that if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?’ In order for connection to happen we have to allow the vulnerability for ourselves to be seen, really seen, and to know what is seen is the true, beautiful essence of who we are. Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and the struggle for worthiness, and it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, connection and love.” – Brene Brown
    I think this is so true and real and makes me realize that it is okay for the kids to see us at our most vulnerable sometimes.

  21. I’m pretty sure a lot of us feel exactly the same way as you have, and that list of things, ditto!! This is when your friends and family step up and tell you that you are talented, you are loved, and that you are definitely good enough.

  22. Newbie reader & commenter but I just wanted to say thanks. This post right here sums up a lot of my feelings about writing, blogging, parenting and living the joy that is parenthood and also trying to maintain my life and sense of self, too. You’re not alone on your journey. And as Stuart Smalley once said, You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and darn it all…people like you. 😉

    Also, your momma? She’s amazing.

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