I have a Love/Hate relationship with school. I always have. I often waited until the last minute to work on my final projects in grade school, and not because I was incredibly busy otherwise. Life was school, friends, tv, playground, homework, school, tv, bike rides, friends. Oh yeah, and family too. Blah.
Anxiety about schoolwork consumed me constantly. My teachers would make photocopies of my completed assignments as examples for the class to follow, and I would often get the only ‘A’. Naturally, as a result, I was always, and I mean ALWAYS, sick. I used to wonder whether I might be an invalid. I was home for 30 days at a time for consecutive school years with pneumonia and bronchitis.
I was literally suffocating under the anvil of my panic, and puberty had yet to suck me dry.
Eventually I discovered that there was more to life than school and sitcoms, but I always seemed to make things more difficult for myself. In high school, I decided that I was going to do everything the right way, and took advanced placement classes supplemented with actual college courses with the big kids, and every extracurricular activity I could squeeze into my schedule.
Undergrad was not much different. A typical day: Calculus, Economics, Buddhism, Argument and Advocacy, chorus rehearsal, poetry club, coffee with Sandra Peterson, dinner with Anna Gossi, Humanities study date with Joey Miller, sleep, repeat.
I think one of the most annoying things about school is the fact that once you learn the rules, it’s so easy to get caught up in what to do and what not to do, that you forget what it is that you actually want to do.
This is something I’m struggling with right now. I used to care about age and numbers much more than I have as of late, and back then there was so much pressure- most of it self-inflicted. I sincerely believed that it was my duty to contribute to the greater good of the world (I actually have an undergraduate degree in International Affairs, minor in General Business. I wanted to work hard, change things, bring forth world peace… The plan was law school, then United Nations, after putting in time at Oxfam. I lived off these delusions for a while.
School became a sort of drug- one of those fabricated, engineered kinds. I was brainwashed at a young age, most likely, and it’s tough to break the habit, even for my own happiness and well-being. I put my art on hold in favor of gaining the approval and respect of my teachers. It tore me apart. I ended up in and out of the hospital, mental breakdown after mental breakdown.
The day finally came when I discovered the possibility of weaving my new knowledge of politics and corruption in the international arena into art.
I fell in love all over again. I wrote poems, engaged in potpourri artsy, activism, danced, painted acrylic dreams and nightmares onto canvas, and even tried my hand at random instrumental goodness.
As time progressed, I slowly found comfort in my own skin, slowly accepted myself as an artist- as a multitasking dreamer. I realized that standardized anything may not be for me, especially with my “I must do it all!” nature. Now I take classes for pleasure, and drop them when they’re too much to handle. I focus most of my time on the things that bring me joy, to the best of my ability, and have slowly become an expert at multi-tasking. I’m sure working as an assistant for a number of years now has helped to get me here, and thankfully, I’m healthy (for the most part anyway).
Over the last few years I’ve taken classes on acting, musical theatre, abnormal psychology, happiness, sexuality, and have recently immersed myself in writing, as I begin to work on my first novel. I’ve only taken a couple writing classes and will take a couple more at the very most. I’ve learned so much over the last few years, and have come upon so many stories, I’ve no idea what to do with all of them. I’m at the point where I just want to get everything out of me.
It is quite the challenge. School doesn’t help much. Still.
Instructors are tricky. Whether they are cheerleaders or devil’s advocates, they have their own opinions, and those opinions may not necessarily match your own. And yet, because they are your teachers, you assume their opinion is more relevant than yours- that you should consider and incorporate their every criticism and praise into your work.
It’s the same with fellow students. There’s always someone (or a few) that finds something about you intriguing. Maybe they just want to figure you out. Maybe they want to make out with you. Likewise, there are those that just don’t like you. Perhaps you remind them of their ex-girlfriend/bangbuddy/wife. Perhaps you’re exactly the kind of girl they’ve always wanted to be. Perhaps you’re the most annoying thing they’ve ever experienced. Thus, the extremes: “What you’re doing here just isn’t working, not to be prescriptive, but maybe you should do this instead,” or “Yeah, I’m sorry but this is totally familiar, and I don’t find it interesting at all,” and “Oh my god! This is amazing! I love your story! Looking forward for more! Wow, that was ballsy, but wow, you pulled it off!”
Cutting this short to move on with my night. Maybe I’ll write more on this later.
Moral of the story: pay attention to what your body and soul is telling you. Your life’s work might not be what you thought it was, and nobody knows who you are and what you want better than yourself. Live the life you want to live.