Last week, I wrote about the “maker/manager schedule,” the idea that “managers” fill free hours while makers need long stretches of uninterrupted time to get lost in their creative work. For me, Saturday mornings are that time. And my fiancé, Julia, makes it easy to stick to my maker schedule because she spends that time at craft fairs…(not that she’d disrupt me were she at home, but you know how hard it is to get work done when something else is going on).
This craft fair thing is new to my fiancé. It’s only in the last two years that she launched her side business, Madarasz Home Decor. And while I certainly do not (and cannot) claim credit for her artistic moves, I do believe that we’ve each pushed the other to be more creatively ambitious than we would have been on our own.
Before she sold her art (and before we’d met), Julia was deep in the scrapbook game. She’d take billions of photos during the school year, on international trips, and at parties before sequestering herself for a weekend with scissors, glue sticks, scissors, and paper. That was until she started dating a guy who told her that scrapbooking was kid stuff, that it was stupid. And so she quit.
Who could blame her? I’d quit if someone I was close to said my art was dumb.
When she told me that story, I was horrified. Why would anyone say something like that? It’s fine if you don’t enjoy participating in someone else’s creative hobby, but why belittle them for having fun or expressing themself?
Thankfully, she left that relationship (since we ended up together) and she was able to reconnect with her creative side. Perhaps, I am partially responsible for goading her into starting her side business and selling her work. What I do know, though, is that it’s because of her support and encouragement that I’ve been able to keep pushing my own creative work forward when I’ve felt like giving up.
Putting your art out into the world is one of the bravest things you can do because it’s so personal. Any criticism of your creation feels like a criticism of you, the creator. Having a partner (romantic or otherwise) who cheers you on, who’s there to celebrate the wins and mourn the losses, makes all the difference.
Ten weeks ago, on my first day teaching Level 1, I opened class with a story—it’s a story I tell anyone starting improv. It goes like this:
On my first day of Level 1, the teacher spent the first hour of class talking about improv. At one point during this epic monologue, he said that improv had made him a better person; it had changed his life. I was skeptical. I thought he was kind of crazy. I was really just there to make friends and learn how to be funny. I didn’t anticipate joining a cult. But, five years later, I’ve realized that he was right. And if he was crazy, then I’m crazy too. Because improv has taught me so many things—how to listen, how to accept other’s ideas, how to be less of a control freak, how to talk to people, how to be confident in my work, how to take feedback, how to take risks. Improv changed my life too.
But it changed my life in another way—it’s where I met my fiancé. She was a frequent audience member and I was just starting out. A friend introduced us. It was not love at first sight. She thought I was a flirt. I thought she was judgemental (but cute). We saw each other around the theater, out with friends, and later on our kickball team.
Years after we’d met, a mutual friend invited me to a Chromeo concert. I’d never heard of the band, but decided to go, mostly because my future-fiancé was going and I was developing a little crush. That night, I drove her home, but she turned me down when I asked her on a date. She didn’t think I was serious enough. I asked her out a few more times and she said no, no, and no. And so I left it at that.
Unbeknownst to me, two friends (who I’d only met because of improv) asked her to give me a chance. They told her I was serious. And so we went on a couple dates. I guess, at the end of the story, it turns out that me and my friends were right and she was wrong.
So, would I say that it’s entirely thanks to improv that we ended up together? No. But I will say that without it, we may never have met in the first place. In that way, it did change my life.
Two weeks ago, when I asked her to marry me, we were in Montreal. It was a trip I’d planned for her birthday…when I bought the tickets, marriage wasn’t on my mind. But a week before the trip, I just decided it was time to pop the question.
I don’t know why I decided to do it or how I knew it was time. Normally, I’m indecisive. Normally, I’d have talked to my parents, my brother, my close friends. Normally, I’d have needed six people to tell me I was making the right decision. But not this time.
Sometimes, it’s ok to be impulsive, to not have a plan. When you know, you know—whether it’s as big as marriage or as small as selling your art at a craft fair. You don’t have to overthink everything. Sometimes, it’s better to just jump, and build your parachute on the way down.
Each week, I write a new article helping busy people find meaning and fulfillment through sustainable creative habits. If you enjoyed this week’s letter, you can sign up to get them delivered to your inbox each week by digital carrier pigeon.