At some point in my life, I found myself completely surrounded by badasses.
Unsure of how this had happened, I looked around and blinked. There was a scientist, an artist, several engineers, and even more farmers. A photographer, some business owners, an explorer. There were movers and shakers. Thinkers and do-ers. A baker, a brewer.
And me, standing there, feeling for all the world like a little girl in pigtails, holding on tight to a security blanket.
To be fair, it was a security blanket I had made myself. Quilted myself, more specifically, with my novice sewing skills, and a vintage machine purchased from a neighbor for $25. With its crooked seams and off-kilter piecing, it was a security blanket that only its maker could love, and love it I did, hugging it a little tighter under my arm as I puzzled out the situation around me.
A circle of friends, all of them badasses, all of them women, all of them way more talented and confident than me, obviously.
But somehow, I had landed myself here. With this group, all of them doing things I never dreamed of. And doing them quietly. Doing them efficiently. Doing them with with grit, tenacity, and unrelenting resiliency.
It was only a matter of time before they figured out that I was an imposter. A fake. A sometimes-gregarious big talker who really didn’t fit this badass mold of people doing cool things. Things that matter. Things that impress. Things that make people sit up, take note, and say, “Now, that. That is some cool shit.” I was just hanging on to their coattails. Smiling and nodding at all the right times. Hiding my pigtails under an appropriately casual trucker cap and talking a good game. I pretended I knew what I was doing. Passed off my security blanket as my latest project. “Oh, yeah. I’m kind of into homesteading, you know. We run a small garlic farm. Grow a lot of our own food. Figured I’d try my hand at quilting as well.”
I tucked my blanket a little tighter under my arm. Did they not realize I was bluffing? That I didn’t fit in? They had to know I wasn’t the real thing, didn’t they?
So, I sat down and I asked.
I’m lying. I didn’t ask. But I did sit down. And I talked with these badasses I had come to have as friends. We talked in the winter, drinking whiskey in front of a fire. In the summer, over beer on a baking hot brewery patio. At their places of work, packaging eggs in a stuffy room, butchering chickens in the freezing cold, taking photographs on a perfect ski day and purchasing goods over their counters in their storefronts.
And after awhile, I realized we were all imposters. We were all making it up on the fly, we were all unsure of the next step. We all had no idea of what we were doing, if we’d make it, or even what “making it” meant.
Perhaps most importantly, we were all also a little starry-eyed when we ran into one another. Blinded by one another’s badassery, as it were, and equally blinded to our own successes, Even in our failures, we failed to see our own resiliency. Our own determined confidence. Our own ability to Be Badass.
“Oh, man,” I sigh to one of the biggest badasses I know, “Whenever I see the Smith sisters, they make me feel like a complete novice at life. They’re so Badass.”
“I know,” sighs the Big Badass, “I have no idea how they do what they do.”
I blink at her uncomprehendingly. But she’s as badass as they are, how couldn’t she know?
One of the sisters pipes in, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” She blinks at us. We blink at her. We all blink at each other.
I hitch my security blanket a little tighter under my arm, hiding it under the folds of my coat so no one notices I have it. Notices that I don’t belong. But after a moment, my grip loosens.
We’re all here because we’re interconnected. We frequent one another’s businesses. We volunteer at one another’s events. The baker buys the eggs from the poultry farmer to make the pastries the photographer buys in the morning on her way to shoot the event at the malthouse that produces the malt the brewer sells to all of us as we knock back beers on the patio and talk about what it means to be badass. Or, perhaps rather than talk about it directly, we commiserate about it collectively. A group of women talking about doing things we do, imperfectly, humbly, and trying our best to make it work.
I’m terrible at attention to detail. I should an awful quilter, with all the perfect edges, careful measurements and intricate steps it requires.
Yet, I love it. I enjoy every step of the process, but I also do it my way, eschewing the tedious perfectionism of quilting patterns for the more forgiving scrap quilts filled with color, leftovers, and lots of little imperfections. My quilts are, I realize, questionably made. But they’re also enthusiastic, bright, and pieced together from all the funnest bits that I can scrounge up around me.
Not unlike my friends.
Questionable quilts and badass babes.
What if we all needed a little bit of a security blanket?
Something to remind us that despite our uneven stitches and mismatched pieces, we still might form something great? Especially when you mix up a whole bunch of us together in wild patterns that you’d never guess would work?
What if we all needed to see that despite our crooked edges, what we’re doing is still pretty awesome?
Maybe every badass babe needs a questionable quilt.
I take a deep breath and pull my security blanket out from its hiding place. I slide it across the bar to my friends.
We all need a little reassurance, now and then. We all need to form part of a patchwork that holds us together, that makes us look better than we do alone. We all need our security blanket of imperfect friends who reassure us that we’re still doing a bang-up job at life. Our own questionable quilt of badass babes.
I won’t always know precisely when someone needs this reassurance. For myself, I know there will be many days when I’m feeling spectacularly not-confident. But I can keep a little quilt tucked at the foot of my bed as a reminder. The very first quilt I ever made, at age eleven, with my grandmother, a badass herself. And I can make new ones. So should you, one day, open your car door, your front door, or just some random package and find there a brightly colored quilt with more than a handful of errors, take it for precisely what it is: an imperfect security blanket for a perfectly wonderful friend.
Your very own Questionable Quilt, for you, a Badass Babe.