I didn’t sign the artwork that I did for our invitations. When we first started planning for our wedding, I didn’t have a plan, really, for the stationery. In my secret wedding fantasy moments, I tended to focus on the cake.
Cake is a big deal; cake deserves serious thought and opinions. But I had a bit of a sudden brain wave, just as we began planning. My awesome science-nerd dude was explaining some of the work he does with species interaction to me, and it fit so nicely, and I had an instant, perfect picture of what I wanted the invites to look like. Will found me examples of mutualist species, I spent a couple of weeks watercolouring, I learned to use Inkscape to do the composite, and used Vistaprint to get it all printed. It’s been my favourite project of the whole celebration. And I love the way they’ve come out, even if the (rather conservative) receptionist where I work, who was the only person around to show when they’d just arrived, sounded fully dubious when she described them as… different.
But I didn’t sign the paintings. Some of my family know that it’s my work. Some of my close friends guessed, asked, and gave me soul-satisfying props. I think Will mentioned it to his family. But I avoided telling others, just like I’m avoiding mentioning that I’m both designing and making my dress to my bridesmaids.
I’ve spent what is probably an absurd amount of effort and energy over the course of my life trying to balance a deep desire for feedback and praise with an equally deep horror of people thinking me a show off. I’m betting I’m not alone in this. Maybe it’s a New Englander Puritan Modesty issue, or maybe it’s a New Zealand Tall-Poppy syndrome thing. Maybe it’s a totally normal human thing to want people to know you’re so awesome that you don’t need people to think that you’re awesome. I particularly struggle with worrying that people will think (Oh, what people might think!) that I’m… taking too much; with my math degree and my public speaking and my painting and music and dance, and—yes—with my completely amazing fiancé. Oh God! What if they hate me? Please don’t hate me! I promise, I find myself mentally crying out, I promise—I’m bad at stuff! I swear! You should have seen how bad my chemistry grades were! I’m appalling at history—can’t remember dates to save my life! I’m awful with car maintenance, even just having to take my car in for servicing gives me the jitters! I suck!
Really though—no one cares, right? Everyone else is busy worrying about what I think, and I should really just shut up about what I suck at and trust other people to be confident enough in their own awesomeness to celebrate with me when I’m doing something well and want to share it… And, I’m trying to learn to think this way, to learn to be able to say—hey, look, I painted this, isn’t it cool? I made this thing, wanna celebrate with me? But I’m clearly not there yet. Because, I didn’t sign the artwork.