Thursday, January 16, 2014

Opportunities Don't Always Knock

Arm-Knitted Scarf
I started out trying to write a blog post entitled “Things I learnt in 2013” but I found that everything I wrote was coming out simultaneously too personal and too vague, too negative and too flippant, too preachy yet too much like I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about either. So I decided to change tack and just talk about one thing in particular.

Yesterday I held an arm-knitting lesson for some of my friends. This was a culmination of several opportunities I’d been given last year, which might have been very easy for me to miss or walk away from because I was too unsure of myself to follow up on them. Last year, I learnt how to arm knit after seeing a picture of somebody doing it. Initially I dismissed the idea of trying to learn, as I thought my hands would be too bung for it. But the idea stuck with me, and after a bit of persistence, I found I could adapt and improve on the original techniques, and had soon mastered this new skill. A couple of months later, I was interviewing to take over tutoring the Writing for Children class at the Wellington High School Community Education Centre, and the subject of knitting came up. I mentioned the arm knitting, and was offered the opportunity to create a class in that too. 

I’m not great at asking people for help. I mean, I am for the big things. Like the “I am on the floor and cannot get myself up without assistance” or the “I need you to take me to the hospital now” type things, but the day to day stuff, the things where it would be nice to have help but it’s not 100% necessary, I sometimes find harder to ask for. As I’m writing this, I realise probably the reason I find this harder is because of those big things. It feels like too much to ask for the other stuff, when the people in my life help me out so much already.

But last year I learnt that family, friends, and even complete strangers, are often very willing to help you out, but they don’t want to seem intrusive. Sometimes they’re just waiting to you to ask. To give them the opportunity to help. This was really driven home to me when I was shown incredible kindness by a complete stranger, who then thanked me for letting her help me, then again when I asked a family friend if she could give me a lift to a doctor's appointment and she responded “Thank goodness, finally you’re letting me do something for you!”

Anyway, when I told friends about the arm-knitting classes I was going to be teaching some of them were really interested in the idea, especially when they saw the scarf I’d made (pictured above.) I was a little nervous about the idea of teaching it for the first time though, and one of my friends suggested getting a group of people to come around for a practise lesson. 

For a while, I felt just as nervous about asking people to come and be my guinea-pig students. What if they didn’t want to come but felt obligated? This very much fell into the category of something that would be nice to have help with, but it wasn’t anywhere near 100% necessary. In the end I decided that if people didn’t want to come, they were perfectly capable of saying no, just as I’m quite capable of saying “no thanks” to things I’m not so keen on doing. Another thing I learned in 2013 was that being honest with people, even when you think it might be something they don’t want to hear, is an opportunity for both of you to communicate more effectively!

Arm Knitting in Progress

In the end, the lesson turned out to be heaps of fun. I came away feeling much more confident about teaching the classes, and my friends came away with a new scarf each, having learnt a new skill, and (I hope) having a fun afternoon doing it. By inviting people, I’d been giving them an opportunity to come learn something new and socialise, not forcing them to help me against their will. The ones who wanted to come came, and the ones who didn't didn't. Simple as that.

So the big things I learnt in 2013 were to explore opportunities when I notice them - they might turn out to be nothing, or they might turn into something really cool – and to not be afraid of asking people for help, or inviting them to things. Opportunities don’t always knock. Sometimes they’re just standing there quietly, waiting for you to notice them, and if you don’t, they’ll just let you walk away without saying anything. 

Thanks for reading,
Little Miss Autoimmune

No comments:

Post a Comment