I have never considered myself an artist.
Sure, I have always enjoyed making jewelry and dabbled with various crafts over the years. So when I found my passion for making chainmaille jewelry and wanted to try my hand at selling it on Etsy, I was reluctant. I wasn’t so much worried that I wouldn’t sell anything–of course I knew that was a possibility, but that was a risk I was willing to take–but rather for me starting an Etsy shop for me felt like I was telling the world, “I know what I am doing,” and I honestly did not feel that was true. Of course I have always been proud of a completed piece and love to wear what I make, but I was shy about “showing it off” cause really, I felt like I was a charlatan, a person pretending to be a professional crafter when that’s not who I am.
Ask me who I am, and I find I define myself primarily by my relationships with others (no wonder I studied counseling and worked in the human services): daughter, sister, friend, and most recently wife. Of course my definition of who I am isn’t bound solely by relationships: Jew, planner, educator, traveler, reader, hostess. But an artist? No, that’s not me.
Even as I work on growing my fledgling Etsy shop, trying new techniques and new looks, learning more about what it means to sell on Etsy, taking classes in jewelry photography and metalsmithing, I still find I feel like I’m pretending. I’m not an artist, that’s not what I do for a living. I work with children and families, in schools and community centers. How could I possibly think I can make a living selling jewelry? What would have been the point of getting my Master’s?
But then I stop to think, hey, I can redefine who I am. I never would have considered myself a risk-taker a couple years ago, but then I left my job in December to travel with my husband around South America for over five months. This coming from a person who always had the next thing planned–my first job out of college before I even graduated, and then the next job lined up before I left, and then graduate school, and then the next job…
For the first time in my life I don’t know what’s coming next, and while sometimes I feel stressed by the fact that I don’t have a job, I kinda like not knowing what’s coming next. It gives me a chance to redefine myself again and say, “Hey, I am an artist!” and really put the time and energy into trying my hand at making and selling jewelry.
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