It was the last day of my senior year of college. I looked over my Infant Development exam, pleased with my answers and feeling confident. I turned in my test and went home. The next day, I woke up at 5 a.m. and went to the hospital for a scheduled C-section. I literally went from being a student to a mother overnight. There was no time for me to re-discover who I was, sans school.

Not only did I have my first baby and graduate from college, but then we moved to another state, far away from any family. My husband went away to grad school each day and the reality set in. I was alone at home, no car, no friends, with an infant. I was so lost, didn't know what to do with myself, and mostly just lonely. I didn't know who I was or what I contributed to society. It was a depressing, difficult year.

Then I started crafting. When I rediscovered my creativity, it awakened something deep inside me - my self-worth, my confidence, me. How did this happen? How did crafting help build my self-esteem?

1. Creativity focuses your mind on something productive rather than destructive

One of the common symptoms when depressed is self-obsession. People tend to focus on their own problems and issues, on what is making them sad, on why their life is not going well. It is destructive behavior, and the only way to get away from that is by doing something the opposite of destructive - to do something productive. Crafting, by the very definition, is to create something. To take everyday materials and put them together in intricate and interesting ways to make something useful.

By producing amazing things, I steered my mind away from negative thoughts and focused on making beautiful and useful things. And the more I created, the more there was to create. I decorated my living room mantle and then realized I hated the color of my couch. So I sewed a slipcover. And that was only the beginning of my decorating obsession.

2. Finished projects receive compliments and give you validation that what you are doing is good. Everyone loves a compliment. But when you are a stay-at-home-mom, keeping house and chasing after children, people rarely take the time to say "Wow! You do such a good job at keeping your children alive!" or "Way to get five loads of laundry washed today!" But people do give compliments on tangible things, even further impressed when you possess the skills to CREATE said object. And that is validating.

My house is clean sometimes, but with three little kids, it's virtually impossible to keep it clean all the time. And what a waste of energy. I'd so much rather make something amazing that people will notice and admire. Those compliments make my hard work feel worth it and even if I don't get a compliment, the very fact that I think it's awesome is enough. I try not to live for validation, but it has helped me to build my confidence and know that what I'm doing is a step in the right direction.

3. Accomplishing something by yourself gives you courage to tackle bigger projects and learn new skills.So you're thinking Yes, OK. I want to try creating something. But I don't know how to do it. Maybe you don't feel you have the skills but - you know more than you think. Just start small, maybe with a paper and glue project. Then educate yourself: read hobby books, visit craft blogs with tutorials, take a class. There are plenty of opportunities out there for people to learn new skills. And when you learn one thing, you can build on that knowledge to try other new skills.

I have always been ambitious and eager to try new things, so I started small and learned from my mistakes - of which there were many. Since I started, I have not only made more than 50 quilts, but I have started a business making and selling them. I am now the proud owner of a jigsaw and a circular saw and using them gives me a rush of power. I keep wanting to go bigger and better - my next project is to build bunk beds for my boys.

I personally still struggle with self-confidence issues, and probably always will. But developing all these creative talents has helped me realize that there is more to me than just being a mom. I adore being a mother and my kids are the biggest joy in my life. But every woman needs something that helps her feel like she has a purpose outside of motherhood - something that defines her as a woman. Something that gives her the confidence to say, "Yeah, I made that!"

Anyone can buy things, but the feeling you get when you make something amazing by yourself is indescribable. And those feelings give you self-esteem by being productive, validating you, and giving you courage to try new things.

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