Sharing Stories from #MakersGetReal

(Disclaimer: There were too many images and words to get individual permission to post each one; These were pulled from the public #MakersGetReal Instagram hasthag, with all credit given. However, if you see an image or quote from you that you would prefer not to be in this post, please shoot me an email and I'll gladly take it down for you!)

It's been about a month since the #MakersGetReal Instagram challenge got started, and everything that came out of it was authentic, honest, supportive magic. Makers wrote bluntly about stress and burnout and discouragement, and – even more important – were able to offer camaraderie and comfort to one another, often through laughter (which is my personal favorite way to brush off struggle). There was a collective push toward sharing the raw, honest stories behind the polished feeds and beautiful products makers put out there. And, honestly, nothing could make me happier than to see makers feeling empowered to share and embrace themselves and their stories, struggles and all.

 Photo credit:  @thetowngirl

Photo credit: @thetowngirl

 Photo credit:  @oddknotsandthreads

Photo credit: @oddknotsandthreads

If I could sum up the value of #MakersGetReal (and, more generally, honoring real talk in social media) in a couple sentences, it's this: Having the space to share your messy, imperfect self reinforces the truth that we are all human, that to err is maker, and that there is always a place for you. You don't have to be perfect to be a valued part of the community, and it's so important that we always remind one another of that.

I wanted to put together snippets of #MakersGetReal posts that I feel most poignantly convey this message. It's hard work going through all of the beautiful posts in the hashtag (seriously, there are over 1,400 last I checked, which is bananas in the best possible way), so these certainly don't encompass all the wisdom that can be found in the hashtag feed. But these were some of the posts that caught my eye, and that I felt rang true. I think it's important to learn directly from one another and for you not to only hear my take on the challenge. So here's are a few things that real talk can teach us, this time in the words of you guys. Because you guys are seriously awesome.

We are so much more than makers.

On the first day of the challenge, makers are asked to fill in the black for this statement: "I'm a maker, but I'm also..." Here are some of the things they said:

 Photo credit:  @sticks_and_stitches

Photo credit: @sticks_and_stitches

 Photo credit: @teathoughts

Photo credit: @teathoughts

We're all imperfect. We all struggle.

Believe me, if you feel like you don't know what you're doing half the time, you aren't alone. These folks are here to remind you that we're all just figuring it out as we go.

"I am the most organized unorganized human you'll ever meet. I am definitely type A and need things to be perfect but if you look at my home you would never guess. There is clutter, piles of yarn and clean laundry, shoes, and randomness spread throughout my home but if you look in my closets, cabinets, or drawers everything has it's place and is neatly organized. So you see we are all human and we don't have it all together but we get up each day and tackle it." – @grandmaskills

"Real Talk: I worry, stress, waste (a LOT) of time, second guess, and all those fun feelings way too often in regards to my Instagram feed. Anyone else? Literally I can get obsessed. Sometimes I get all anxious and doubt myself on something - the picture, the caption (like this one), the flow, how I want it to look (which I realize doesn't have to be so difficult but I just still haven't found my groove)... And so I kind of shut down for a few days on social media because I get so dang overwhelmed. But this is okay (and I think sometimes very needed), because then I get a little room to breathe and regroup." – @bqueencollection

"I really hope that someday I get the hang of all this maker stuff. I still feel like I'm trying to find the perfect balance of knitting, motherhood, social life, house cleaning, and other adulting that needs to be done. I hope that I can grow my business to a place that really allows me to help support my family, but at the same time doesn't overwhelm me." – @toastytribehandmades

"I get burned out pretty easily when I'm making, making, making, and not taking time out for the other parts of my life... this happens a lot the week before a market. By the end of the week, I'm gritting my teeth and making myself crochet, even though it feels like the last thing in the world that I want to be doing (which is especially sad since this craft usually brings me an insane amount of joy). But lately I've discovered a really easy cure for my burn-out: Making time for my family." – @thestitchandhook

"My Instagram feed is probably one of the only things in my life that looks clean, tidy and put together, because I'm certainly not. It's like my happy place of simplicity." – @knitbrooks

"Tea Thoughts is still a side hustle for me so when I get home from my full time job it's sometimes SO hard to stay in work mode to get designs done, create my blog posts etc. I often work right up until the minute I brush my teeth and then I'm exhausted the next day. I'm sure many of you can relate! Besides making time, I'm constantly fretting over numbers: followers, likes, comments, sales, revenue and expenditures. Am I good enough? Do people like me? Do they like my work? Will I ever make this full time? These are the questions that swirl around in my head Everyday. I try my best to fight these doubts because I make the best things when I'm carefree. I'm so glad to be be able to share because I know I'm not alone!" – @teathoughts

"Next time you're frogging your project for the 9th time, think of me and know that most likely, I too am sitting in a pile of tangled yarn. I'd never want you to think you're alone in "failing" with certain designs or projects. I tear out almost everything I make before you see it here or on the blog. But man, isn't it satisfying to finally get it right?" – @makeanddocrew

"The biggest challenge for me is having enough time and managing it efficiently. Between managing my day job, family life (dance, art, school, swimming lessons) and Morrowen Knits, finding time for myself and to physically sit down and knit is sometimes difficult to balance." – @morrowenknits

 Photo credit:  @bqueencollection

Photo credit: @bqueencollection

 Photo credit:  @makeanddocrew

Photo credit: @makeanddocrew

We have a lot to learn from one another (and a lot to teach).

You may not even know how much wisdom you have stored up on this journey until someone asks you to pass along some advice. You guys dropped some awesome truth bombs when asked to share "real talk advice" for new makers. Here's just a taste.

"Be you. Not who people tell you to be. Not who you think people will like. Just be you, always. There are people out there who will like you for who you really are. You don't need 500 people to connect with to feel loved. Sometimes you just need that one person. So just keep that in mind before you hit post." – @thetowngirl

"Do not be afraid to jump right in. This entire journey has been such a learning experience for me and I've learned it all as I went. It's how I learned to crochet and how I learn most things. You're never going to be 100% prepared for everything and you'll make mistakes, but I'll tell you a secret: I don't think anybody really knows jack about what they are doing. So don't feel bad if you don't either. You can learn with experience." – @woolandsage

"It’s easy to want to do everything NOW, but remember that you’re just one person. You’re not a machine, you’re a human being. You’ll get there, just give it time." – @woodsandwool

"Overcoming burnout is deciding what is most important, and focusing your energy on those so you can be happy and proud of your efforts + keep your sanity in the process. And of course, running away to the woods every now and then helps too." – @knitbrooks

"Pretty early into my Maker career, I was constantly comparing myself to others in the Maker space, looking at their IG feeds, their sales, their skinny bodies, and their perfect lives. But I had a wonderful friend that I can't thank enough for this quote:  'Don't compare your chapter 1 to someone else's chapter 20.' Girl, the skies opened up and the heavens sang - that was exactly what I needed to hear! If I could give some real talk advice to new makers, I'd say allow yourself the space and time to be new. There's no such thing as an overnight success - it all takes learning, bumps, bruises, and the occasional late night brainstorming session. Find your groove. Tell your own story. Not someone else's." – @tlyarncrafts

 Photo credit: @knitbrooks

Photo credit: @knitbrooks

 Photo credit: @more.knits

Photo credit: @more.knits

I wish I had the time and space to share every single one of your stories, but hopefully this post gave you a taste of some of the rad, resilient, real-talking makers out there just waiting to connect with you. Keep making friends, keep telling your story, keep reaching out when you need it. This community is full to the brim with encouraging, supportive, smart folks who will lift you up and push you forward when you need it. Don't forget to put yourself in the position to learn from them – share yourself, and your tribe will find you.