When I was little I was a nervous, stuttering little girl. Everything made my stomach clench, especially at school. I was quiet and had good grades, but I was terrified of the school inspector, not to mention the headmistress. School and social life made me so nervous that at the age of 7 or 8, my pediatrician diagnosed me with irritable bowel syndrome.
What happened along the way for this nervous, stuttering little girl to get out of it? A lot of things, actually! Among them, the effort my mom put in so that I would dare to get out of my comfort zone and face the world: modeling, flamenco, theater classes and a long list of others. And it's not that my mom wanted me to be a model, but she wanted me to be able to walk with my head held high (and hopefully my back straight) and look confidently at those in front of me. I was never good at modeling, just as I was never very coordinated at dancing and couldn't learn the long lines that an actress has to memorize, but that didn't matter. We were working on improving my self-confidence.
When, at the same age, I learned to knit, it was ugly. I knitted uneven and tight, I had holes and I didn't like the end result. I tried for years and nothing improved. Everything changed when Chichi, my grandmother, taught me how to knit again, in a different way, when I was 17. That meant hours, days and weeks of practice until it worked. A complete sweater that every day that I took it, made me doubt with which hand I should take the strand. A red shaggy wool sweater that turned out wonderful, and that was the beginning of what I am today as a knitter.
To manage to live without everything making you nervous or afraid, to the point of getting sick, is a process. A process that can take more or less time, depending on each person. And it is a process that makes us face something very difficult: our vulnerability. And I say it's difficult because generally, what we show the world is not that. We don't show our inner struggles, we show the end result. And we often say that as long as it seems "as imperfect as possible". And we do this in all areas: we usually talk well about our current jobs until we manage to change and then we tell everything that made us uncomfortable. We show off our children's accomplishments with great pride, but rarely reveal how difficult the process was for them to achieve them. And the same thing happens with knitting, we only show the ones that are just the way we like them, and the ones that are ugly, ugly-disheveled, uneven, mismatched and make us feel vulnerable, we leave them in storage, unfinished, and we don't show them to anyone.
And the thing is, as American writer Brene Brown explains, vulnerability has a lot to do with our struggle to feel good enough, in all areas of things. And it's hard because that means we have to be brave enough to face our imperfections and show them to the world. She says that this connection to our authenticity is about letting go of what we "think we should be" and allowing ourselves to be who we really are. What good does that do us? It frees us, allows us to be more creative, happier... because what makes us vulnerable is also what makes us amazing.
There are a lot of things that still scare me. Giving up a stable job. Moving house. Watching my daughters grow up and become independent. It's not that my life today is "fearless", it's that I live it in spite of it. And I control the anxiety it generates by knitting. And walking. And taking pictures. And talking with my friends.
My life is not perfect and I don't want to make it seem like it is. I want to try to accept those things that make me vulnerable and allow myself to be myself and keep my essence. And the invitation I want to make to you today, is to try to empathize with ourselves and embrace that which makes us vulnerable and unique. Whether it's in our personal life, work life or even in our knitting. To not be so strict with ourselves because what we do is not perfect. Because perfection does not exist. Because in that imperfection and vulnerability, is the beauty of who we really are.
I send you a big hug,