You May Fail at Something, but Try It Anyways

Last updated: November 2023

For many years, I had wanted to learn how to knit or crotchet. Then, in 2004, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). My hands constantly hurt, my coordination is off, and my ability to grip is impaired. So, in my head, I put it in the category of things I should not do.

An invitation to join a crochet group

However, in 2018, I had the opportunity to learn how to crochet. A group of women from my church had a crochet group. It met once a week at one of the members' homes. I was invited to join.

The leader of the group understood my reluctance. She also had a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, but had been crocheting long before her diagnosis.

The group leader explained some of the many benefits of trying crocheting:

  1. Excellent activity to keep your hands moving and help maintain your fine motor skills
  2. Helps relax the mind and helps to alleviate stress
  3. Is a great group social activity
  4. Can increase self-esteem (when you accomplish a finished project)

When at first you don't succeed, try again

Honestly, I ended up going with the mindset that I would try it a few times. That few times turned into a year. In that year, I managed to learn the very basic crotchet stitches. Those included the chain stitch, single crotchet, double crotchet, and the slip stitch. I went faithfully every week.

That was me. I was like the little engine who could. All of the members of my group encouraged me. They provided me with different-sized crotchet needles, and crotchet needles with ergonomic built-up handles. Group members also shared various types of yarns with me, assuring me that certain yarns are more difficult than others to crotchet with. However, even with the built-up needle handles and best working yarns, I had great difficulty. I just could not grasp the concept to make a beautiful creation.

RA has taught me persistence

You know it’s not a good sign when the leader of the group pulls you aside. She was very experienced in crotchet. She had taught many people the craft. I was unfortunately not one of them.

The group leader and I finally came to the understanding that crotchet was not my art form. I never made a beautiful blanket. I practiced various stitches. I unfortunately did not improve like one would hope. I dropped the crotchet needle more than I held it. Many people would have thrown in the towel after a month.

However, one thing in life that rheumatoid arthritis has taught me is persistence.

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Valuable lessons in living with rheumatoid arthritis

Crotchet taught me a valuable lesson. There are many things in my life that without rheumatoid arthritis, I might have been able to do to societal standards. However, just because I cannot do an activity to societal standards doesn’t mean I should not do it.

My attempt at crotchet did help me to work the fine motor muscles of my hands. However, most importantly, crotchet allowed me an opportunity to walk through life with others. Friendships formed and my support system expanded. Sometimes the true benefit of what we do in life is not the end product we expect.

I did not end up creating a beautiful blanket; however, I ended up creating new and beautiful friendships. It’s the people and experiences in life that matter the most. Don’t let rheumatoid arthritis hold you back from trying something in life.

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