Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Those Girls: Lighting Another's Candle

Do you ever get into that pity spiral where you start to look around and want to scream "why is everyone else getting these awesome things and I'm getting a bunch of poop on a popsicle stick??" Perhaps you don't use my ridiculous analogy, but I'm sure you've been there, where you start commiserating about all of the things you should be doing and all of the attention you should be getting from all of your hard work. It seems as if everyone else has great things happening in their careers and you are stagnant. Unmoving. Ignored. I have been there: many times. In fact, I was there just recently.

small church wedding blue yellow and white christian and andie
Photo by Jaquilyn Shumate Photography

My sweet husband and I got married in Port Gamble, Washington, this past May. I fine-tuned every detail down to the twine on the favors (as one would!) and I was excited to share our day in hopes of growing our Assemble custom design project. We were one of the few couples in the running for the Winter/Spring issue of a prominent bridal magazine and I have to admit, I was beyond ecstatic for possible recognition of all of my hard work.

Sadly, we weren't chosen. I found out on the same day I started feeling fluish, our house was a mess and I had a mountain of laundry to attend to. (When it rains, it pours.) I had my moment of champagne, chocolate, a drunken nap at 7pm and a few tears, and have since moved on. It got me thinking though--why did I really want that feature? I know how lovely our wedding was. I spent it with our beautiful friends, got to experience every last detail and it went off without a hitch. Was it about business, or was it about me? Alas, it was about me.

Everyone wants a payoff for their hard work. But sometimes, the work is the payoff, and the outcome is a surprise after finding joy in your own craft. If you work in a creative field, you are most likely used to a small (if any) paycheck and tons of hard manual and emotional work. When we chose this path, we chose to find happiness in what we do without outside recognition. When it comes, it's absolutely brilliant, but finding solace in the fact that it might not is important for self-preservation.

That is what I, personally, find difficult: finding complete happiness with the possibility of no recognition. Even when Emily is away on vacation and I rearrange the shop, she comes home to me sitting at the table with my arms crossed, eyebrows raised, waiting for her to say "the shop looks beautiful!" (sorry, Ems). We all wish Martha Stewart would call us up and say "[insert your name here], you are doing a fabulous job." Until that happens though, let's find joy in our work and feel lucky for being able to do it, while congratulating & supporting each other.

a candle loses nothing when it lights another

There's an old saying that goes, "A candle loses nothing when it lights another." When we don't feel recognized for our work, human natures wants to hoard every tidbit of knowledge and support away, keeping it all to ourselves. The old feeling of, "Figure it out for yourself: I DID," tends to take hold when we feel under-appreciated. I'm sure you know, however, that this just makes us feel worse. Giving of ourselves is what creates true joy, and ends up coming back to us in the end.

So here's our homework: When we feel the lowest/the worst/the crummiest about the direction our career is going--give. Give help to a friend who needs assistance packaging her huge amount of holiday orders when you have none. Give a shout-out tweet to a competitor just because you can. Give advice to someone who is just starting out, even if no one gave you any when you started out. Give recognition to yourself, for all of your hard work.

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