Learning Teaching

I’m teaching sewing lessons today, and I am super stoked.

Teaching sewing is my next planned career step, and I’ve spent the past couple of months researching and preparing to teach. And today is the first day where I get to practice teaching some Facebook friends how to sew. It’s a practical step in the direction of teaching, without the huge fear of doing a terrible job of teaching, because I’m only practicing, and I’m not getting paid, and my friends aren’t going to get judgy if I flub my words and flail about like a twit (both very likely to occur).

Now let’s talk, for a moment, about fear of failure.

About two years ago, I took a huge leap of faith, quitting my waitressing job to try sewing for a living. I had nothing but some savings and a temporary sewing gig as a cushion. I did a number of job interviews, and most of them sucked.

The thing about sewing jobs is this: they don’t train you at all. You have to already know exactly how to do whatever position you’re applying for, or you don’t get the job. Some positions are more lenient than others, but most of them require a seamstress who has been doing “this exact job” for years. How do you learn and grow that way?

For example, one position I applied for was doing alterations for a high-end menswear store, and I did a three-hour interview. I did pretty good, good enough to be hired anyway. But then the master tailor changed his mind a few days later, worrying that training me further would cut into his own work time. Fair enough.

Then I did an interview at a bridal shop. They handed me a stack of fabric rectangles and some boning and told me to make a bodice. It was unfriendly, and I was nervous. Also, what the hell was I doing there? I don’t know how to work with boning, and satin fucking sucks. So I tried for about an hour, making a totally shitty bodice, before giving up. Thoroughly embarrassing.

And I wish I could say that there were no more embarrassing sewing gaffes after that. But I’d be lying. There were two more. One of which involved getting hired, working for a month, and then seeing my position up for grabs on Craigslist again, with a lower wage. Luckily, that occurred after I’d gotten a steady sewing job, and no longer needed the money in any immediate manner.

But still, you can’t experience that many profound failures without it affecting you. And the next time you take a huge leap of faith, the memories of those failures are taking the leap right alongside you. Which makes everything even more scary. Wisdom must be why people stop making bold decisions.

That being said, I think it’s important to continue that thought. Wisdom might be why people stop making bold decisions, but cowardice might also have a hand in it. You can’t decide to sit still simply because you are afraid of change. Change happens, with or without your opinion on the subject, so you might as well learn how to grow yourself into different shapes.

And while taking a leap of faith becomes scarier with each failure you experience, it also becomes easier. Because those failures teach you things. I learned from my failures, and became not only wiser, but braver as a result.

So I’m going to teach sewing, and I’m going to experience more failures, and I’m going to learn from them and get better as a result.


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