I have always loved reading about the accomplished young ladies of Victorian times. Some examples of the accomplishments young women could develop are as follows: drawing, playing an instrument, singing, painting with water colors, dancing, needlework, jewelry making, tending houseplants or small animals, cooking, and sewing clothing. A book I recently read about that time period, Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England, indicated that doing such things served no real purpose but was rather the “thing to do,” done simply because it was done. Yet, it is clear, especially from the fictional writings of the 19th century, that an accomplished young lady led a happy and successful social life. After all, her family would have had to have been of at least modest means in order for her to have enough free time apart from chores to pursue extra endeavors. Also, the choice for a woman to pursue specialized studies indicated that her family was mindful of socially acceptable standards and was thus a well bred family. In addition, in those days, having experience in one or more art could also serve as a potential means to attract friends or suitors. Finally, for a woman to become accomplished, it meant that she possessed many admirable character traits.
Let us take a closer look at these characteristics. First of all, a person seeking to become accomplished develops self-discipline, as it takes day after day of consistently learning and practicing to master a skill. Patience is also necessary as one deals with hurdles and setbacks while gradually moving closer to the goal of a completed masterpiece. Mastery of the art, not perfection, is the goal. Attention to detail is a mentally sharpening skill that one develops through carefully making handiwork, art, or music. Having a specialized area of study stimulates creativity and imagination, sparking an individual’s vision, heart, and soul. Cultivating a skill will cultivate an appreciation of beauty in a person, so vital for enhancing the joy and pleasure one finds in her daily walk on this earth. Lastly, learning a new skill yields one a personal sense of accomplishment as projects are completed or pieces of music or dance are mastered. When much of everyone’s life involves doing the same thing every day, like driving the same commute, cleaning up the same messes, turning in the same reports, or following the same personal care routine, having an activity with visible, never-before-reached results is encouraging and exciting!
Although we may not refer to specialized skills or hobbies as “accomplishments” today, elegant, feminine women nowadays still pursue fine arts. Because she enjoys creating beauty and personal satisfaction apart from the mundane daily routine, the well bred woman typically pursues at least one hobby in order to add beauty and refinement to her life. After all, a well bred woman’s life involves more than just surviving–i.e., paying the bills, keeping herself and her space clean–it extends toward beautifying her surroundings, exercising her mental capacities, and bringing joy and delight to herself and others. This she does through the pursuit of accomplishments. As for me, I absolutely love the fine arts, and have played piano for over 20 years. I have recently begun developing my singing voice in my local church’s choir, and my dream is to someday learn to play the harp. I have cross stitched for nearly two decades, and, similar to my puzzle obsession, I enjoy cross stitching patterns of Thomas Kinkade’s glorious paintings. I also enjoy flower gardening and have recently begun refinishing my second-hand furniture myself in order to bring out the natural beauty of the wood and complement my home decor.
Examples of modern day accomplishments or hobbies include jewelry making, DIY furniture and crafts, sewing, needlework, gardening, music, writing, scrap booking, and child care. What do you do, or what are you interested in pursuing, in order to become an accomplished woman?