Do you ever have moments where you are truly lost for words? When you look at what’s right in front of you, and feel the biggest of emotions, right in your chest, and can’t, for the life of you, find the words to express them?
I’ve sat here, in front of this computer screen for the last hour, trying to think of a way to start this post. Multiply that by the two weeks that I’ve been trying to write it, and you get the idea. I honestly can’t find the words. I’m not sure that they’ve even been invented yet. So I’m just going to start.
‘You must do things you think you cannot do.’
– Eleanor Roosevelt
When Caitie met Soda was born during one of the darkest periods of my life, and, at the time, I don’t even think I realised it was happening. I was sick; physically and mentally, and lost: truly, truly lost. I thought, and excuse my French here, that I’d f***ed up yet again, and that that was it. As good as it was going to get. Maybe I was meant to be unhappy. Maybe I was just broken.
I watched the world around me; friends and family, finding their way. Finding jobs they loved; and just generally ‘adulting’ like absolute bosses. And then there was me. I used to wonder how people would describe me to someone who didn’t know me. ‘Oh my friend Caitlin, she’s the girl with the medium-length nondescript hair who… Wait, what does she do again?’ That’s literally how I thought that conversation would pan out.
Because what did I like? What did I do? I couldn’t think of a single feature that defined me; other than failure. We’re all a collection of characteristics; aren’t we? And we find solace in being able to define ourselves by things we believe to be important. But the only way I felt able to define myself was in terms of failure; disappointment; and maybe, if I’m truly honest, complete apathy.
In some ways, being unwell was a relief. Because it gave me back an identity. I could be ‘Caitlin, the girl with multiple chronic illnesses. The one who suffers from depression and anxiety.’ And so for a while there, that’s who I was. And I mean, I really seemed pretty good at that. Collecting diagnoses and proudly boasting a pretty hefty medical file.
I don’t know what made me want to try to start learning to make jewellery. I don’t remember that decision happening, but, I remember the first time I ever made a ring. And that was magical. I mean really, truly magical. I had a moment where I felt truly alive. And I thought, for just a moment: ‘I’m here. I did this’.
From there my interest in jewellery-making snowballed, but it was only after making my sister a set of Little Comet rings for her birthday (the first Little Comet rings I ever made) that the idea of designing a small collection of jewellery and selling them online started percolating. But if I’m honest; really, truly honest, I never, ever thought I’d sell any at all.
But as time went on, I realised that not only did I love making jewellery, but I also loved writing. This came as a surprise to me, since I vehemently refused to study English at university. But, nevertheless, I realised that I truly, truly love writing. And somehow, the pieces that I was creating started telling me their stories, which I started recording on their Etsy listings.
And then I realised that I love photography. I love the challenge of trying to capture my designs. The constant battle with lighting, props and lenses. The hundreds of photos I would take to find one good one. The challenge of sharing my pieces with the world wide web as I saw them through my own eyes.
I guess what I’m getting at, is that the things that I have come to realise that I love found me when I didn’t even know that I was looking for them. And honestly, I wasn’t looking for them because I thought I’d given up.
But somewhere on this journey, I felt something I didn’t think I’d ever feel. I felt a spark. Like something inside me had woken up and said ‘I’m still here.’
I’m still here.
And then, in what felt like the blink of an eye, When Caitie met Soda had become my full-time job. Although calling it that doesn’t really feel like it does it the justice that it deserves. Because it’s not, and has never been, ‘just a job.’ It was and is the thing that saved me. I’m acutely aware of how cheesy that probably sounds, but I’m saying it anyway.
When Caitie met Soda has taught me the value of learning; and of choosing to learn. Of seeing life, happiness, sadness, despair, as moments on our journey here, rather than final destinations. Of reaching out and asking for help. Of committing, with every fibre of your being, to the life-long journey of learning to be okay with who you are – as they say: ‘warts and all.’
Earlier this year, when I first moved into my studio, I placed the quote: ‘I am still learning’ next to the sink. I spend a lot of time at this sink – making my endless, endless cups of tea (ya’ll see those on Instagram pretty regularly), rinsing jewellery, preparing pieces for the polisher, having profound thoughts (I jest), and so it’s something that I see often. And it’s something that always hits me, right in the chest.
‘I’m still learning.’
I have spent, and on my bad days, still do, so much time wondering why I seem to be the only person ever who doesn’t seem to be able to just get on with it. Why bad things have happened to me. Why things always feel like they are so totally out of my control. Why I can’t just be like the people I admire. Why I am so woefully inadequate and imperfect. And I guess, being reminded that I’m still learning is a foreign concept to me, because I’ve always had the expectation of myself to already be. To already be perfect at whatever it is that I’m trying. And, what utter bulls*t that is!
We are all, every one of us learning. We are works in progress. Beautifully flawed and imperfect. Infuriatingly unpredictable and in equal measure reassuringly boring. Because we are learning.
And the thing that made me realise this; and I mean really, truly realise this, and feel it in my heart? Thats you. Every single one of you. Those of you who have been here from the beginning; those of you who are just meeting me for the very first time. You made me realise that my life is valuable; that it is meaningful. You made me realise that although I will never, ever be perfect, as long as I am learning, and choosing to learn, I’m doing okay.
Somewhere, out of the darkest place I have ever known, a community of people was born; the #whencaitiemetsodafamily, as I like to call it. We’ve come together to share our passion for jewellery and sparkly things and all of the things in-between. Never before have I known such beautiful friendships and connections as I have found through When Caitie met Soda.
And so here we are, friends. Here we stand, together, on the day that the BRAND NEW When Caitie met Soda site goes live. And I can’t even begin to put into words (she says, having just written the longest post, EVER!) to tell you what today means to me. The new site; When Caitie met Soda; you; mean more to me than I could ever begin to put into words.
I hope that you love the new site as much as I do (Soda’s pretty darn chuffed to be on the homepage, let me tell you! If you’re wondering where his dashing bow-tie is from, just click here. Seriously click here. Louise and Rosie will change your life!) I hope that it will be a place that you can enjoy coming to visit. Whether that’s to browse our latest pieces; to add to your jewellery collection; or a place to just be. Because from the very beginning, When Caitie met Soda has been about so much more than jewellery, hasn’t it? It’s about us; you and me, and our journey. Because we’re all just trying to find our way, aren’t we?
I also hope that you will enjoy the much improved overall functionality of the site, as well as our brand new ‘do. I’m not going to lie, I think it’s looking pretty jazzy. Can you tell I like pink though? (I’m winking, and let me tell you, that’s a terrifying sight!)
As ever, The Blog will continue to be a safe space for us to discuss all of the things. The good, the bad. The scary. The exciting. The unknown. Because we’re all working this out together. And step by step, hand in hand, we’ll get there. I promise you, we’ll get there.
The biggest thank you goes to Ben, our insanely talented and passionate web developer, who worked his magic on When Caitie met Soda. Ben: You looked inside my mind (well done for doing that by the way; it’s a mess in there!) and created something more beautiful than I could ever, ever have imagined or hoped for. I’ve said it before (and a number of times in this post…) but there truly aren’t words. You’ve created the perfect space for our beautiful family to gather. So from the bottom of mine and Soda’s hearts, thank you.
‘And suddenly you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.’
Here’s to the next chapter, friends. Let’s make some magic.
With all of our love, always,
Caitie, and, of course, Soda.