Hi everyone – Rene here!
I have exciting news regarding Good Enough Mother! As you may have noticed we love to hear from all of you out there via our Guest Postings submissions – thanks to everyone who has written for us so far (and if you’d like to see yourself on the site please just check out the Guest Posting button on the left).
Well one fabulous lady who’s been writing for us is Nikki Newman, a Brit girl now living in the Middle East who authored two fabulous pieces – Middle East Mom and Play Your Own Way – which generated a BIG response!
I love Nikki’s style and take and think she completely encapsulates the Good Enough Mother ethos – so we’ve invited her to write a regular column for us here at GEM (Nikki will be writing for us bi-weekly on Thursdays). I think you’re going to love what Nikki has to say – and to officially welcome her to the family – check out her first piece, which I think is going to really resonate with a lot of you…
Thanks Nikki – and can’t wait to read more of your future columns…
FACING THE FASHIONISTAS
When I was 12 years old, I got into fashion. In fact, I think the seeds were sown earlier than that, with my sister, making stuff out of scraps of fabric, dressing up our dolls. But aged 12, I would spend hours with my artist pencils designing entire fashion lines. These designs spoke of the era – the 80s – and all the hallmarks of 80s pop and TV culture were there: shoulder-pads, lace gloves, garish colours, angular hair, bold stripes, leg-warmers, studs and chains…I kept them all as a record of that time and because it just made me so happy doing them.
Creative stuff was what I did pretty much all the time, with my sister by my side. But somewhere along the line, I talked myself out of taking any of these things further into the cold, hard light of adulthood. A combination of off-putting comments by careers teachers, the belief system that something creative cannot lead to a real job, plus my own lack of self-confidence meant that the closer I got to choosing my college course, the further I swerved from my true course.
As far as fashion college was concerned, all I could envisage was a room full of intimidating, achingly stylish and deeply opinionated people who would most probably find my ideas very foolish. The same went for art college. I never even made it through the front door of one of these places for an open-day visit, let alone actually apply for a course. And it’s something that’s tugged and nagged at me ever since.
In recent years I’ve begun to prioritise my creativity again, and it’s starting to pay off; the place it holds in my heart is beginning to be reflected in the place it holds in my day-to-day life. That’s very exciting. But what I wanted to write about here goes back to those fashion drawing days. Earlier this summer, I saw a fashion illustration competition advertised in a world-renowned fashion magazine, and feeling full of bravery having just uprooted and moved to a new continent, I decided to ‘sod it’, as we say in England, and enter the thing.
I set about doing my fashion illustration. Always at the back of my mind, the gremlins: ‘what am I doing? I have no training. My wardrobe’s full of bargain purchases from high-street brands… I’m an imposter! What right do I have to do this?’ But I worked hard to banish those thoughts and remind myself of the hours I’d spent age 12 doing my own thing, the joy I felt doing it and the course my life had taken away from it. I owed myself this, even if I got nowhere in the competition, just the act of doing this was another good step down the right road for me.
Weeks then months passed, I wouldn’t say I put it out of my mind, but I filed it in ‘pending’ and got on with my day-to-day; always though, there was a chink of hope.
Two weeks ago, I was in the middle of running my new Monday morning art class at home (ok, I have one student and the class was her idea – but it’s a start!) when my phone rang: an unknown number. I answered. It was the magazine… I’d made the Top Ten finalist list! Suddenly, my voice went high-pitched and I was reeling off the lines I’d heard spoken on a hundred reality shows where a prize is at stake: ‘OMG! OMG! I need to sit down. I don’t believe it! Really? Really?!’ Cue crazy laughter. Pull yourself together! ‘Congratulations’ the magazine lady said. ‘Thank you’ I managed to reply.
I jumped around the room like a 12 year old. I told my student who was waiting, paused with her pencil in her hand, studying the still-life arrangement of fruit I’d left her to sketch at the dining room table. She was happy for me. Unfortunately, though, I lost the ability to teach any more art for that day.
Let me just say now, I am not for one minute expecting to win this; I’m honoured, stunned and thrilled to have got this far. Next week, the winner will be announced and it’s hello gremlins time again! I’m attending an event for the final…and here I am, worrying about those same things that bugged me in my teens: am I good enough? Is it beyond me? Will I stick out, the girl from the slow rural village where the closest thing to fashion back in the day was a basket of neon coloured leg-warmers on sale at the local store? Will they see I am an imposter, not even wearing one single item of designer clothing? And perhaps most importantly, what the hell do I wear?! Contrary to popular belief, living in the oil-rich Middle East does not instantly equip you with wealth and a Louis Vuitton handbag – there’s rent, school fees and groceries to pay for… I’m going to have to see what I can pull together with what I’ve got.
I am, however, taking with me the knowledge that I’ve carried this thing in my heart for most of my life. Shoulders back, I’ll try to walk my own walk, not break any heels in the process, and get through those doors to face the fashionistas this time round. I’m banking on them being just really nice folk doing something they love. I’ll let you know how I get on.
But what about you? Is there anything you loved to do when you were younger but lost sight of as you got older? Why did you end up going down a different path? Perhaps there’s something you’d love to reconnect with or you’re already starting down that road? We’d love to hear your stories…
Nikki Newman, 36, from England, currently lives in Qatar, where she moved this year due to her husband’s work. A former teacher and proud mother of 7-year-old Oliver, she’s currently focusing on settling her family into their new lives, while also pursuing her passion for painting. To see Nikki’s work please go to: www.nikkinewmanart.com