Perfectionism kills

This week I received my tote bag samples from the manufacturers.

What was pure joy when I first opened the package, ended up being agony in a few days. The quality was even better than I expected, so I was very very happy. I liked the sun better than the moon, as I now saw the bag in my hands. But then, when I asked for feedback, I got the opposite – the sun doesn’t match the style of the moon. ‘Of course’…I then thought ‘I always thought it was something wrong with that sun’.

So I rolled my sleeves, and started working on a different sun design. And another one, and another one, until I got ten versions. Ten versions!!


And I made it. I finally made a sun design that would fit that moon!

But the process….the process was agony. I doubted myself so much. Will I ever make something good out of it? ‘This looks bad…this looks bad’ was all I felt. And ‘this looks bad’ easily turns into ‘I’m crap, I’ll never get it right’. So, I didn’t get rid of insecurities, just by listening to them. Not listening at all doesn’t work either.

But the process was torture. And you know what the torture was? Wanting to get where I’m not. Wanting to get rid of the process, and getting it right. Looking at my design…I could see: it isn’t right. But hey! What else can you do instead of realising something’s wrong and having the will to work on it?

What if a flower would say: ‘I can’t take this any longer, I need to turn into a fruit asap, or I’ll go crazy’.

btw flowers are here for spring, and they’re just aaah-mazing!

The flower knows it’s beautiful as a flower, then beautiful as a fruit, it doesn’t fight its own process. The flower simply is, and goes with it. What if all flowers would hide because they’re not fruits yet? The world would be so poor without the flowers showing their beauty. The flower is just a phase in a plant’s life cycle, which is as useful as any other phase. So don’t deny your process, it’s all so beautiful if you don’t fight it and hide it.

If you’ve got the will and you work on it, you’ll get there, even if it takes, hours, days, years, a lifetime or even more lifetimes. You’re a work in progress, what fun would it be if you couldn’t learn anything new, or get better at anything? Don’t take away that fun…

I then remembered: ‘Thou shall not kill’ applies to aliveness, whatever that means for you. Don’t kill your joy, your excitement, your passion, your love, your compassion. Don’t kill this moment. It’s you against Life…and you know who’s gonna win.

Wow, I need to listen to this day and night haha! Sometimes I write things which are wiser than I am.

How do you find your passion if you have no special talent?

I didn’t speak much when I was little. I mean, everyone knew me as ‘ the girl who draws’, because I’d spend all the time drawing princesses for them. But tbh, I did it because, you know…nobody actually spoke to me and I didn’t know what else to do. And sometimes, that’s good enough. I was kinda awkward with people, and it just came natural for me to draw more. 

And quite frankly, drawing also made me connect with these strange kids that talked with each other. I could give them some part of me on a paper. And I liked that. But I was just as good at drawing as everybody else. I just did it more often.

5 year old masterpiece. That stare tho..

I then went to art school since I was 10. I kept doing this drawing thing more and more. And one day, I woke up on my birthday and something happened. I turned into a mermaid. Ok, not really. It’s actually less mythological, but still legendary. All I wanted to do was paint. I didn’t wanna celebrate, I just wanted to make something that I’m actually proud of. I spent the whole day from morning till night painting like mad and did the same the next day. That was my weekend.

I’d never before put so much effort into anything. Spending tens of hours on some painting was something quite new to me. I was exhausted, but I loved it. And when I came to school with my painting, I showed it to my teacher. He was like whaaat? How’d this happen? Who dis? He would point to me all the rules of balance in my painting. And I was like…yeah, sure chromatic harmony…that’s exactly what I thought of…sure thing!

first 12 yr old masterpiece

I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked my way back home. And people started to stare at me in a strange way. I started to think…‘hey maybe I’m actually good at this’. And the crazy thing was that just a few days before, I wasn’t ‘that talented’. I mean, I was quite good, but not -what in the world?!- kinda good. And just by spending 20..30 hours working on something in such a short period, I became so much better.

All those rules of balance that I used without noticing…I got used to them because I literally stared at drawings on Deviantart and art books all day long for 2 years, after I would come home from school.

My special talent was – just doing stuff. After I realised that all I needed is just a lil’ more effort if I wanted to be better at something, I felt for the first time that I could actually turn this thing into my vocation. I stopped believing that some people are just good at it. I stopped being annoyed at the fact that I couldn’t make things as cool as I wanted them to be and started to put that effort into getting there instead. And everything skyrocketed from there.

And here’s some stuff I did later that year…with tens of hours of work, trial and error.

Sabina Manolache illustration
sabina manolache illustration

Sometimes, you think you have no passion, because you think you can’t possibly do all things you can think of. That some have ‘gifts’. Man, I tell you. I was no better than anybody else in my craft, but I just kept doing it, and doing it, even if I would rip and chuck my drawings away, even if I would look at others and think…I could never be that good, even if for some reason my hand didn’t really get how cool I wanted that drawing to actually look like. Dumb hand…

You’re sometimes like: oh yeah, I’ll do this amazing thing, it will be SO amazing, and then…

“This is horrible, I’m horrible, the world is horrible, why is there no ice cream in the house?!…the world is mad!”

But even if that was playing in the back of my mind, I kept doing it. And it was hardcore. Only when I kept doing it and realised that yes…with work I can literally make anything happen, I found my passion.

My passion isn’t drawing. It’s simply making things happen. And I know that you have that passion too. So whatever it is – make it happen, for the sake of it. Make something happen and face the crap that comes with it. The thing is, whatever you’ll choose to do…even if it’s the best thing eveeerrr, you’ll definitely find things that can annoy you. Guaranteed. So, start small. Learn to do the dishes without getting pissed. And work from there. You’ll soon be an invincible zen monk.

Do you stumble with finding out what you wanna do?

Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to help out.

How I got my creativity back

You know, it all clears out when you actually start doing it. I was feeling quite low because I was writing a text about what I do and why I do it. I wrote a little something. It took me 30 minutes and I was ‘pleased with it’. But then I had that feeling, something’s wrong. That feeling of: it’s ok, but not right. It haunted me all day. And then comes the thought: “well, exactly…why do you do anything, there’s no point in you doing anything – you don’t have -the right motivation-“. And that dragged me down, and I couldn’t do anything for quite a while until I said: enough!

I went back to my file and started writing. Anything. I wrote all the crappy and boring stuff I could think of. But you know what happened? When you write all those ideas you don’t actually like, at one point you run out of them! I know it’s crap, but you need a mental detox if you want to get rid of that crap. And the detox is – just let it out so you can look at it. Let it out in some sort of physical form. It needs to go out, so that you have room for the good stuff to come.

So whatever ideas you have. Put them on paper, or in any physical form. Make some sort of draft. Stay with that draft until you feel better about whatever you’re trying to create. That can take hours or minutes, or days..or who knows. You don’t like what you’re coming up with? Well, ask yourself why and you’re one step closer.

So get yourself a some paper and a pen, or open up a document and start pouring out your ideas. And pour lots of bad ones, pour as many bad ones as you can. It will feel so relieving.

Insecurities are good

It’s been a ride full of punches in the face this week, but I won’t give up. It’s a bit like…when you’re trying to do something different…everything goes against you. But you know what happens? When you keep going, you start to understand that voice inside that guides you.

I was working on a design for my shipping box, and I couldn’t find the right supplier, or shape and size. Spent hours, lost sleep…and all I could think of was: BOXES. When I was looking at my box design, I remembered how proud and happy I felt when I finished it. But after a while, I felt insecure. Is this box really worth it? On one side, I was proud of the design, I worked around 12 hours non stop to make it, and it looked quite good and slick. Still, a voice inside me was telling me ‘it’s not good enough’. I was annoyed at it. I mean…not only the suppliers are against me, I’m against my own self! But then, instead of removing that ‘not good enough’ thought, I asked myself: Is this design really not right? And then I realised that I was fighting against a feeling that I had for days. There was something I didn’t like about it, I didn’t know what, but I was trying to deny it because I was too attached to my work.

I just thought that’s an annoying fleeting insecurity that I have to get rid of. Still, the thought persisted. I didn’t listen, and started to feel really low. So I asked this annoying voice: why don’t you like it? That’s all it took. And the answer simply was – it’s just not me. I just had to be kind to this voice, and listen. I then realised that the box really was too pretentious for me. It wasn’t a bad design, I’m sure some would prefer it. But I was trying to be someone who I’m not, just because I saw others opting for this very classy look.

So I changed it.

Final packaging option…pfew!

Before, it was a black, slick looking box featuring my name. Now it became something that’s so much more ‘me’. Now the box is an expression of my gratitude for anyone that would buy something from me, it just feels so right. Before, I liked the way it looked, but nothing compares with the feeling of ‘it’s right’. Now I’m happy with the design because that’s exactly what I would like to say to anyone buying anything I make: Thank you! I am so so grateful, you really are amazing!

It’s strange how sometimes, the voices which we think are mean, are actually well intentioned. I was looking desperately for my inner voice, not knowing it was there all the time, but not really how I expected this voice to be. This voice doesn’t tell me much. It just says: yes or no. And this voice has told me so many times ‘no’ that I ended up thinking it’s the enemy. But behind that no…there’s a huge treasure.

Just ask yourself, why do you feel like ‘no’? What can I change for the better? Can I do now something about it right now?…we just say we have insecurities. But so many times, it’s hard to accept the truth and change, so we just try to remove the uncomfortable thoughts, instead of trying to understand them. But when you do, it’s so relieving. Behind that ‘no’ there’s so much growth. A ‘no’ is as good as a ‘yes’ if you just listen to what it says.

So now, whenever you have doubts or insecurities, ask that annoying voice that sometimes brings you down if there’s something you can do to improve now. If you do this, insecurities will become friends and really nothing can stop you!

How do you know if you should quit your job?

I actually quit my job this week. Can you believe it? I’ve been working like mad for two and a half years…waitress, chef, teacher, designer, cleaner…arghh. So much. All this along being a full time student…it’s quite scary. But you know what’s even more scary? Not having a job.

Here’s chef Sabina 🙂

I quit not because I didn’t like my job. Strange enough, I liked being a cleaner, I enjoyed spending time with my colleagues, and I felt like I am doing something constructive…always earning money, never thinking I won’t be able to pay my rent, doing my part every day, earning a living, and for the first time in my life I was actually fit hahaha. It wasn’t much, but it was rewarding for me.

But I had to think what’s more important: spend 20 hours per week cleaning or spend 20 hours per week designing? For a long time it was: spend that time cleaning, because I couldn’t stand the thought of having to lose money and not earn it. Right now, the time I spend on getting better at my craft doesn’t give me money. But I had to think of it as an investment. Either I get the nice monthly reward from my cleaning job…or I lose it now, but I’d be better in the future.

Quitting wasn’t really party time for me. I now never work less than 10 hrs, sometimes 12, 14 or more..who knows. I feel strange knowing I ain’t got no excuse now, I actually have the time to do all the stuff I wanted to do for ages. But this is exactly the scary part. It was nice having it all in my mind thinking of a distant future where I’ll do it all. But the future is now. And it’s not comfortable.

So I think quitting my job isn’t necessarily better, is simply different. But why did I do it? I chose what would help me and the ones around me the most – focusing on what I do best and getting better at it. I was gaining on the short term, but actually wasting on the long term. I quit because I felt like wasting. But moving on means sacrifice many times. It ain’t fairytales. Sometimes you have to lose so you can gain. It all comes with its own cost. But what are you ready to pay?

How I almost got fired

My first real job was being a waitress. After the first three days, the manager told me that I was walking ‘like a ghost’ through the tables, and my energy was disturbing the place. I felt so awkward and bad that I started crying. As I was working so much at uni, I was tired, overworked, and they wanted me to have a smile on my face and lots of energy? Then the manager told me ‘I don’t care if your cat dies and you’re sad, you must come here and smile, it’s your job, otherwise, you can leave.’

I thought he was mean, but I actually learned a lot that day. When you commit to a job, it doesn’t matter how hard your life may seem to you…you must do your job every day. What if the bus driver would say: ‘I’m having a crisis, I can’t drive this bus anymore.’ Or the doctor: ‘I’m so upset, how can I treat people now’. No. Then what gives me the right to say: ‘I’m not in the mood, I can’t create something today?’.

I’m going to make something no matter how I feel, no matter how many blows I get. It’s my job and I won’t leave it aside just because of a ‘bad day’. And you know what? By doing your job properly you start to heal yourself, you understand that it’s not all about you and your problems. It’s about serving others. It’s about what you make of what comes to you, not about what comes to you. And then magically, all that moodiness disappears!

It doesn’t make sense, until you live it

I got some client work out of the blue. I was fighting with the thoughts about the future, and here I am faced with reality, no longer with my thoughts…When people say you should think less…that’s because thinking really is not the same as doing. I mean really…how many times do I have to realise this, until it becomes part of me?

In my mind, I couldn’t find an end, but a beginning has found me. All I can do is experience…and I will know the answer. And all these are just words as well…it doesn’t makes sense until you live it. The only way is the way ahead. Keep all your inner sense open, and see when your heart needs to tell you something. You will then know when to stir to the left or to the right. But if you’re not walking, there’s nothing to stir.

I got it

You know when you hear some things all over and over again, but it comes a time when you hear it once more, and suddenly it sounds different. It’s all so clear, so new, like you never heard it before.

These past weeks I’ve been feeling so low I could barely get up from my bed. And you know why? Because of hopes and dreams. They all say you should follow your dream, and you should. But what happens when it haunts you and you can’t even sleep. When you start caring less about yourself, you stop washing the dishes, leave all your clothes everywhere, and shower is a distant memory from times long forgotten.

That’s how I felt because I kept watching other people’s dreams and lives and I started to think: what is the right path for me? How can somebody in the woods find happiness? Is that environment magical? Does it make a person happy? If so, how come there are so many that simply dislike it and would do anything to get out…like it happened in the past years with urbanisation. Do people find happiness in their city life? Some do. There’s so much contradiction. Everyone points to happiness: “It’s here! No wait, it’s over here! Oh no, don’t listen to those, it’s over here.”

You know why the person in the woods seems to have it all? It’s probably because the woods don’t judge them like the city does. The woods don’t tell them they’re not pretty or cool enough. The woods simply ‘are’. And from the woods one simply learns to be. And nothing stops you to realise this wherever you are.

It then clicked that…actually, it’s not the things that make people happy. It’s people that make happiness, through themselves. The things they have, or places they inhabit are just an extension of themselves…yet it’s their own self that has the first and last say for their happiness. But expecting happiness from without has to give you sorrow in the end. Hoping for your dreams to happen? Yeah, make them happen, if they are good for you and those around you then fight for them. But if you sacrifice your inner peace, and of those around you then there’s no point.

There’s no need to ‘dream big’ as if only that would bring you what you are longing for. You just need to live life, and give it your best shot. It doesn’t mean you limit yourself, but you just stop clinging to things or people, and start working from an unassuming you – just like a child lives their life.

It is all about your work, and what you aim to focus on in your life. Do you want to use people for your own gain? Or do you want to help with the progress and health of humanity’s psyche and environment.

It all starts from within.

A letter from my consciousness

Sabina, you’re not expected to know everything now, nor save the world. But you have to change your attitude. Be open to learn.

You can’t know the outcome now, but be humble enough to learn from those around you, from what’s happening to you.

You’re looking at your life, feeling guilty that you have things many would dream of. You have a job, savings, food, shelter, access to electricity and you’re healthy. But instead of feeling guilty…use them all! Work with what you’re given. If you have these things, it’s for a reason: it’s your responsibility to use them, it’s what you chose and earned a long time before you were born as Sabina.

Not everyone will have the same life, nor want the same life as you want. We’re all different. And somebody’s blessing might be somebody else’s curse.

You don’t need to save the world. You don’t need to look for a detailed vision of how the world would be. You know why? Because you live on earth. And this means everything you do is a process. And a process means you work your way to do and get things.

A vision of the perfect world? You might get glimpses, but the whole image will always change. Humans change, the world is alive, always on the move, always changing. A fix image of the future won’t help you. You need to move your way through life.

Remember how you paint? You have an idea, then you’re bold enough to start it, and then you realize that what you came up with is not what you wanted in the first place, but it’s something you can be even more proud of. Enjoy your process, it’s the only thing there is. You just do things and walk and climb your way step by step. There’s no finish line.

“But I’m afraid. I’m afraid I might not do the right thing.”

Yeah, most probably you won’t do the right thing. So what? Fear won’t help you in any case. Be courageous and act. You’ll learn. I know you’re eager to learn and you wanna do the best thing. You really do. So keep this attitude and start walking. Don’t be afraid of falling. If you fail, so what? It’s ok, you’ll get up. I mean really…

With love,

Your consciousness

The grass is greener

It’s been a week spent in my head.

Yes, I am supposed to do more and think less.

But I feel many times like I don’t have something to go towards to, when all that’s a head of me is so uncertain.

Every single day that passes keeps reminding me: you’ll finish school sooner than you think.

And every day I think of different options of what I’m going to do, where I’m going to go.

I started thinking about my country…how everyone leaves the village to find the better world in cities. But then city people long to go in nature. Nobody likes where they are. Everyone wants to escape.

So where am I to go?

I just wanna do what’s right and make the world a better place, even if it’s the smallest thing. Well then I guess that the smallest thing is your attitude, right? Without it you can’t do or change anything.