My name is Emma, and I design and make stationery.
That's who I am. I own it. It's me. And I am not afraid to say it just like an Alcoholic owns their alcoholism in an AA meeting. You may be thinking the two can't compare, and maybe they can't, however there are some similarities I've noticed along the way.
And by along the way, I mean referencing my faded memories of being a kid sitting in the back of AA meetings (mum had no babysitter and I guess we all just went along - there were other AA kids too hanging out through the meetings) in rooms filled with cigarette smoke (it was the 80's and that was normal) and cups of tea, coffee and teddy bear biscuits.
I ALWAYS remember that one line. "My name is (insert first name only) and I am an Alcoholic". Owning that statement trying to get back in touch with their authentic selves. I guess trying to get in touch with your authentic self is like peeling layers of an onion. Peeling back emotions like hurt, anger, shame or whatever emotion that got you out of your self (or forget your authentic self) in the first instance. And shedding a lot of tears (c'mon admit it - there is no known cure for tears when peeling an onion. I think I have tried them all - including swimming goggles).
It took guts and a whole lot of realisation for those words to come out of the speakers mouths. I didn't know it at the time, but I know it now. The amount of layers that person had to peel back to get to that point to admit that that's who they were and to love themselves enough to find their real self again.
Now let's bring this back to stationery.
There's a LOT of self doubt in being a creative person. As there is in the life of the alcoholic. With all this doubt and uncertainty I guess you lose yourself along the way and start to become what you think others want. I guess that could be part of the reason that a person drinks in the first instance.
So many times self doubt has been in my mind, thinking am I good enough? What do people think of me and my work? Should I keep going? Should I quit? But I love it. Is love enough?
Then there are the highs of "OMG look what I have created - it's amazing". I guess not unlike the 'pink cloud effect' an alcoholic goes through when they are a short time into sobriety. That feeling of everything is under control and I totally have this self employed creative business nailed. I am excelling at life. Just try and stop me.
Then the self doubt can come back in an instant, just one comment (darn social media) or one slightly unhappy customer and the process of starting over with new projects and trying to diversify into areas which are not being true to your authentic self and trying to see if this is where you really fit.
All I know is that the people in AA are trying their hardest to discover their real authentic selves. And similarly, I have recently been peeling the layers (or call it a mid life crisis - whatever) on my stationery journey and it has all come back to simplicity. I love stationery. I love paper. I love good design. I model my business on these loves.
"Keep it simple", "Love what you do", "The grass is greener where you water it", "Be brave" and all the other similar cliches have been resonating through my mind - and through it I seem to have reached a point of clarity and ownership. A point where it is not important what others think but I need to stay me and keep doing what I am doing with passion. Be my true authentic self in business (oh alright and at home too). Sobering really.
My name is Emma and I make and design stationery. Simple.
And as they say at the end of their speech in AA, thanks for listening.
Side note - I am not an alcoholic but did read a book recently called 'Mrs D is Going Without' (Written by - Lotta Dan) on beating alcoholism from which I could relate to many words in all facets of life. Her blog is called livingwithoutalcohol.blogspot.com.au and you can read it here. If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, this blog has many helpful hints and links.