Recently, I addressed a hall full of people. My friends have estimated anything from 200 to 300 people were in attendance for the historical fashion show that I organised and presented as part of the Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations.
This may not seem like a big deal to some of you but, for me, I was stepping waaay out of my comfort zone. I’m not the sort of person who is keen to jump up in front of people and start talking. I’m not even the sort of person to speak up in a smaller collection of people either – even if I do have something worthwhile to add.
It’s different when I’m talking about something that I’m passionate about – get me going on a particular topic and you might not be able to shut me up. I think that’s why I said yes to organising the Historical Fashion Show. I was terrified about talking to lots of people (even more terrified of royally screwing it up, letting people down, and mortifying myself) but I was going to be talking about something that I love and know a lot about. I was also the one writing the script and, since I was organising it too, I knew precisely how everything was supposed to go.
Not only am I passionate about Victorian fashions and the history of style changes, but I’m also very passionate about promoting a welcoming, supportive, and competition-free historical costuming community. Right from the get-go I was determined that the show would be a non-competitive event and one that simply gave those taking part a chance to receive recognition for all of the hard work, time, energy, and effort into creating their garments.
I started up a Facebook group to connect historical costumers who live in New Zealand, hoping that it would give them a chance to connect and support each other. I get so excited every time I see people helping each other out with questions or issues because that’s what it is there for – to be a supportive community. We have beginners through to people who have been sewing since before I was born and people who have some historical fashion knowledge through to those who know a vast amount.
Pursuing your passion can lead to little victories through to incredible triumphs. There’s no telling where it may take you or what you might achieve.
Lauren from American Duchess, Izabela from Prior Attire, Taylor from Dames a la Mode, and Cynthia from Redthreaded, amongst many others, are definite proof that pursuing your passion can really pay off.
That’s not to say that success in historical costuming or any other passion is only limited to running a well-known business. When I started out pursuing this hobby (before I even realised that it would unlock a passion), success for me was finishing a garment that looked, well, not-terrible. Those were my victories – sewing something that I could wear and learning so much along the way. Victories for you might be completing a dream project, writing a successful blog, or attending an event you’ve really wanted to go to.
By pursuing your passion you meet like-minded people, either at events or via an online community. Your self-confidence increases (I know mine has), it can be therapeutic (for me, sewing, as well as baking, does this), you end up making better use of your time instead of, perhaps, losing a few hours scrolling through your news feed or mindlessly watching Netflix.
Most of all, by pursuing what you’re really passionate about you’re adding so much more value to your life. And you may find other benefits as well.
Watch someone the next time that they’re talking about something that they’re passionate about. I can almost guarantee that they will light up – their eyes sparkle, they become more animated, and the weight of the world drops away. A while ago, a friend of mine had the opportunity to sing on stage with a band. We were catching up for coffee a couple of weeks later and when the conversation turned to that she totally transformed.
It was incredible to see her so happy and excited about taking a step out of her comfort zone and exploring her passion further. Because of this, I found myself more engaged in the conversation and, while I have no interest in singing in front of anyone, I was happy to invest time talking about it and asking questions.
Sometimes it isn’t easy to do it – there will always be obstacles along the way. What those are will vary for different people. Maybe you have other priorities at the moment such as family circumstances, or perhaps you have restraints such as a small budget or limited access to resources or materials. If you need to focus on what’s happening in your life then focus on that and try not to feel guilty about focussing on your passion. If you have a small budget then you could spend your time doing research or planning while you’re waiting to save enough. If getting your hands on particular resources or materials, try asking around for recommendations or team up with friends to purchase items online and split the shipping costs. Sometimes it takes extra creativity, patience, or determination to pursue your passion because of these sorts of obstacles but it can be done.
Basically, even if you are the only person in your circle of friends, your neighbourhood, or even your city, don’t let that put you off doing what you really feel passionate about. Others may not share it but friends and family will recognise that this is what makes you happy, this makes you tick. Now, I don’t know about you, but my friends and family know full well that I am head over heels about the history of Victorian fashion and creating garments from the era and they are supportive and genuinely interested in what I am doing because it’s me doing it and it makes me so happy.
Where will my passion take me? Or you? What doors will open in the future? What opportunities will arise? What hurdles? How will it benefit you, and how will it help you to grow? There’s no knowing what pursuing your passion will lead to but there is only one way to find out…