A Soul Searcher’s Guide to Finding Your Strengths

I wouldn't be as fastidious as you are for a kingdom! - CopySoul searching. What is that exactly? Is that evaluating your, most likely, complex feelings that are jumbled into a knot that not even the best boy scout can untie? Is it determining who you really are without the influence of outside factors? Is it establishing a set of values to live by? Or is it all of those things and then some indescribable need to “figure it all out?” I’m leaning to the latter as I do my own fair bit of soul searching.

In my last post, I mentioned feeling like I was being chased and no longer being comfortable with the complacency I find myself in. This has spurred on a lot of soul searching and reevaluating. I’ve mentioned my business, Puckish Propensities Press, where I design and sell all manner of whimsical greeting cards to help people connect outside of the digital world. They’re off the wall sometimes, but I love them. I love them for their unique take on things, and because I can be creative, working with my hands to make something. But lately I’ve been wondering if I’m really playing to my strengths. This has led me to ask, “what are my strengths?”

Short answer: no idea. Why is it that when we ask ourselves this question, we can’t answer it? I don’t know if we’re afraid to sound like we’re bragging, or if it’s because we think so negatively of ourselves, that we can’t possibly see anything good? So as I ruminated on that question, “what are my strengths,” a pit opened in my stomach. I don’t know. I don’t think I have any particular quality that stands out. I did well in school, but I busted my butt. I studied a lot with many sleepless nights. Is my strength discipline? Being a hard worker? I don’t know.

So I asked. I spammed my family and close friends with text messages and phone calls. After fielding a few responses, like, “That seems like a big question. What’s up?” I got some answers. The majority of which included writing, creativity, kindness, and patience. I started to think that maybe they were right. I remembered all the stories I found in boxes dating back to when I was 7. I remembered times when I explained a concept to someone who didn’t understand it and didn’t give up until they did. I remembered how much joy I get designing and creating something. I remembered how often I’m told I’m easy to talk to. All of this outside perspective helped me sort out my confusion. While I’m still reevaluating the direction I want my business to go, I have found some clarity.

It reminds me of a William Blake quote:

I looked for my soul, but my soul I could not see. I looked for my God, but my God eluded me. I looked for a friend and then I found all three.

Friendship is important when you’re not sure of your worth anymore, when you’re questioning yourself, or what you’re good at. Let me tell you that you are worth something. Maybe you don’t see it, but I bet if you ask someone, they’ll tell you. So if your soul searching is difficult, don’t be afraid to ask. You might end up unraveling one of those knots. Any sort of clarity will help us in our every day lives. Play to your strengths and hopefully you’ll see your life soar.


On Adequacy

What is adequacy? According to the dictionary, it’s “the state of being adequate.” Adequate is “as much or as good as necessary for some requirement or purpose; fully sufficient, suitable, or fit.” If we take it for that definition, then why is it that so many people, myself included, feel inadequate. Are we really all not “as good as necessary”? I don’t think so.

The other day, I felt inadequate. Truth be told, I often feel inadequate in any number of things. But on that particular day, it was my stationery business. I work very hard coming up with new designs that you can’t find anywhere else. Ones that are funny, cute, charming, something that’s not the usual. The usual is often boring or overdone. I like to think I’m neither of those things. I had just shipped off two cards to a lady in Florida when I realized both on and offline I’ve only sold cards to two people who weren’t family or friends, that lady being one of them.

Sure enough, as soon as I let that thought cross my mind, BAM! Inadequacy smacked me so hard I cried honest, frustrated, angry, I-should-give-up-now tears. I had bought business courses on how to start and run a creative business. How to use Instagram to increase your followers and in turn how many sales you make. I did it all right, at least I think so. But the followers aren’t coming. The people aren’t caring, so why do I still do it? I should give up now.

That’s what I told my dad and a friend of mine. My friend told me my cards were just a little off-center that no one understood them, that it’s not me, it’s them. Those aren’t the words you want to hear when you end a relationship, but it helped me a little then. My dad also told me that if I could just get them in front of people, and if they could just talk to me, they’d understand. It always seems to boil down to people understanding me or what I make. So why do I feel inadequate? I don’t know.

I should give up now. I should give up trying to please or impress everyone because I never will. I should give up caring about my number of followers. But I should not, and I won’t, give up on myself, my writing, or my cards. I love making them. I’m happy when I’m drawing and writing, when I’m exercising my creativity, and when I think that maybe someone out there will smile or laugh because of something I made. I don’t know everything, but I do know that I’m happier when I’m doing what I love no matter how hard it is. Even on the days I want to give up, and there are several of those, I remember that inadequacy is subjective. If I gave up, then I really would be inadequate according to myself, and I don’t want to do that.

If inadequacy comes knocking, smack IT upside the head and keep going! Happy creating!

P.S. For those of you who don’t know, I own Puckish Propensities Press. Find it here on Etsy. I’m still working on my own website!

Creativity Abandoned My Writing and Other Adventures

etsy-bannerAs I’ve been cleaning out boxes that have gathered dust in my basement, one thing is clear—I’ve been writing since I was about seven. That’s quite a long time. No, I won’t tell you the exact length. You shouldn’t ask a girl her age! Take it from me. It’s somewhere between ten and thirty years. Despite all of this writing, my interests have taken other paths, meandering here and there, poking their heads in holes that probably would have been better left alone. The one constant I always come back to is writing. The past two months, however, I’ve abandoned it, as I mentioned yesterday. Perhaps it’s not so much an abandonment as it is a redirection. For over a year, I’ve been toying with the idea of starting my own business.

“What business, Maya? Oh pleeease tell me so I can support you!” Woah, there, guys. Your excitement sent me flying into a wall. Let me dust myself off.

Drum roll, please. *imagine military-style*

STATIONERY! Wow, you guys are so great, but please hold the applause. The name, which came about after a brainstorming session in a Cracker Barrel with my family, is Puckish Propensities Press. And yes, I do have different email addresses named after faeries from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Is anyone really surprised? I’m a huge lit nerd after all.)

My aim for Puckish Propensities Press (P^3 or P Cubed for my peeps, that’s you guys!) is to spread smiles. Sounds cheesy, right? Now, hear me out. There is a ton of hatred and anger in this world. Way too much. I rather think it’s so easy to be bogged down by it and forget about the simple things in life, and the happy things that we all end up running around screaming “foul” and never finding peace. I like peace. I like happiness. I like smiling and laughing. So, I want to remind people of that. There’s also the added benefit of bringing back the tradition of written letters/cards. In my opinion, the digital age has separated us emotionally while also making it easier to connect with others, and that’s a shame. I want people, including myself, to reach out to my loved ones with more than a text message or a “like” on Facebook. Relationships and friendships are more than that.

Without further ado, here’s Puckish Propensities Press! Take a look around and see where my creativity went when it abandoned my writing. All cards are designed and drawn by yours truly. The jokes, good or bad, are also mine. I would love your feedback, so drop me a line here in the comments or in an email. (I do see the irony in that.) I’m working on my website so for now I sell only through Etsy. I’m also trying to figure out a cheaper form of shipment overseas because right now it’s insane, y’all.

Thanks for taking a look! Happy smiling and writing!

P.S. You guys are troopers for letting me blatantly advertise my business!

P.P.S. I really do accept comments, suggestions, and questions!