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February 5, 2011 / Zoe

I am doing something.

I spoke on the phone with my Mum today and she mentioned that she went to a birthday party for a friend, and that there were a lot of parents of people I went to school with there. She told me about what they’re up to now, and I tentatively asked what she told them I was doing. Well, she told them I was starting an online craft store. Sounds impressive, no? But my Dad, he told people I was doing nothing. Nothing. I don’t care the slightest bit about what those parents think I’m doing, they can think anything they want, but my own Dad? That hurts a little. Before I called Mum I had spent about 4 hours cutting out fabric to make tote bags to screen print on, and am doing more hours this evening. I draw, I blog, I sew and I cross stitch. I keep our house reasonably clean, I bake and I look after my own cats and guinea pigs and I foster others. I have off days when, yes, I do nothing, but I have on days too. Days when I’m productive and I’m most definitely doing something. I’m severely agoraphobic and have an anxiety disorder, so my mental health doesn’t allow me to work a typical job, so this is what I’m choosing to do, and I’m very proud of that decision. I’ve only made a few sales in a couple of months, but I don’t think that reflects the effort I put into my Etsy store. I’m not very close to my Dad, but the idea that he thinks I’m actually doing ‘nothing’ is a bit of a blow, even though I rationally know that’s not true.

So, my fellow crafters, online business people and professional bloggers, how to you get past the negativity that goes along with trying to carve your own path through life? How do you explain to people that you don’t work a typical 9-5 job, and no, this is not just a hobby? And how to you remind yourself that you are indeed, doing something?

*I just want to add that this isn’t supposed to be a rant about my Dad, but maybe it came out that way… It’s supposed to self affirming and positive, and a reminder that what I’m doing is ok!*

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13 Comments

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  1. Katie / Feb 6 2011 8:24 pm

    Have you tried talking to your dad about it? I’m lucky in the sense that my parents understand that I do what I do because it makes happy but they don’t necessarily agree with the financial aspects of it. It takes a lot of time and patience to explain to them what I do and how I do it and while they don’t judge, sometimes they still think I’m having too much fun for it to be a real job.

    I understand completely where you are coming from, it’s definitely very difficult to define success (in our field) to our parents unless – sadly – we can simply show them that we are making lots of money from it, which is not usually the case.

    Good luck and cheer up! They will come round to it when they see how happy you are 🙂

  2. ironyonhighheels / Feb 6 2011 4:26 pm

    It happens in the best families 😉 I have basically a good relationship with my parents (it could be worse :-P) but sometimes they say or do things that a very hurtful. They life in their own world where the have certain ideas for their kids and how they have to live life. When you don’t fulfill those expectations ….
    I try to tell myself that I don’t give a XXXXX but that rarely works lol
    All you can do is be convinced that what you do is good for you. If there is more that you could do or something different you could try – there is a nagging feeling in your gut that tells you that.
    If it’s not there? You’re doing a good job!

  3. VeryZoe / Feb 6 2011 1:12 pm

    Wh-hoo! What a fantastic post!! I think that it’s sometimes hard for people to understand how much time it actually takes to create and maintain an online presence, let alone start up an etsy shop and sell hand-crafted goodness. You are doing something fantastic indeed!

    • Zoe / Feb 6 2011 2:03 pm

      Thanks Zoe, I’m trying my best! And that’s all that should matter!

  4. Lucie / Feb 6 2011 12:54 pm

    Hmm, I’m sure Dad thinks that Mum does ‘nothing’ as well! Whereas, I feel like I have been doing ‘nothing’ since Christmas! Working 5 days a week which leaves me little time and energy for the creative pursuits which actually give me a sense of achievement. Of course, the money I earn is the only thing that matters, at least from Dad’s point of view.
    I think it is amazing that you have taken a horrible situation with your mental health, to try and make a living doing things that you love, and that allows you to stay at home.

    • Zoe / Feb 6 2011 2:03 pm

      Thanks, Lucie! I guess I don’t really care what Dad thinks, you know that better than anyone! It’s just something I have to remind myself! x

  5. thalia / Feb 6 2011 11:20 am

    You’re a rockstar for doing what you do. One day I hope to have the courage to open up an etsy store!! Seriously, you rock. Your dad probably just doesn’t understand all the effort that you put into your store! (I know that I can’t even fully understand what kind of effort it would take!!)

  6. Cara / Feb 6 2011 11:19 am

    I was JUST feeling like I should be ‘doing something’ even though I’m in school. I guess my brain meant I should be ‘doing more’ or something of value to others. But really, learning to get as healthy as you can takes a substantial amount of time & energy, and it is an achievement that no one else can teach you or evaluate you on. It’s something you alone are capable of, and it’s sonething important. It’s definitely ‘something’, and it’s something to be proud of – it’s a long haul, but it’s worth it. Most people can’t appreciate how much value there is in taking care of yourself – and others – especially when you’re living with a disabilty. You do the best you can, and that level may fluxuate depending on how well you are on any given day, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less valuable. You are doing important things.

  7. Lily / Feb 6 2011 11:03 am

    Thanks for the clarification! You are doing great!! ♥

    • Zoe / Feb 6 2011 11:06 am

      I woke up this morning and my first thought was, ‘oh shoot, people are going to think that I hate my dad!’ We had a pretty strained relationship in my teens, but moving out of home really helped that!

  8. Donaji / Feb 6 2011 7:20 am

    Hi Zoe, I know it must be difficult for someone like you Dad to think that of you. But I’ve come to realize that people have different ideas of “success”. If let’s say, you’d be working at a grocery store but happy with your life, to some, that may seem unsuccessful compared to a nice corporate office job. I’ve learn to accept that A LOT of people don’t have any hobbies and live their lives going and coming from work, watching tv, eating and sleeping. And that’s their life. So for me, I’m just like you in the sense that my life is surrounded with hobbies, occupying myself and to me, that’s self-fulfillment, which brings me joy and inspires me to become a better person and learn more with each day.

    People like your Dad will just have to accept you and what you choose to do with your life. There’s so much time and creativity that goes into handmade crafts that to people, may not seem like a “real job”. It’s like saying that home-stay mothers, or homeschooling mothers, that they don’t have a “real job”, but really, who is to say what a real job is. The important thing to me, personally is to find what I love and bring me joy and do it, regardless of what it is. That, in the end will be success. So many people live in a 9-5 schedule and are miserable, don’t have a life.

    I hope that you can deal and talk to your Dad about it and hopefully he can understand you a little better. I’m glad your mom sees straight through it! Cheer up Charlie! 🙂

    • Zoe / Feb 6 2011 11:13 am

      Thanks! I guess I can’t understand how people can be happy working in an office job, an office job was NEVER on the cards for me, when I did work it was outside in land management, so I guess it makes sense that people with typical jobs can’t understand how I can be happy either! I think all I have to do to make him see that I’m serious about this is send him a business card, I think he would find that impressive. 😉

  9. Lily / Feb 5 2011 11:42 pm

    One day at a time. If it won’t hurt too bad tell your dad that what he said hurt you. If that will cause drama in the family (and it can) then write a letter that you don’t send. Then burn it and try to let the hurt go up with the flames and smoke. It can be very cathartic.

    I’m sorry your dad said that. Maybe he just doesn’t understand your life. I’ll be praying that you guys can get past this.

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