I am full of worries about everything. I just finished my first week of summer night classes at Art Center. That was the school I decided not to go to after taking a year of night classes because of its stress levels and most of all, toxic culture. Now that I am back for the summer, nothing has changed.
I just worry about how whether if this is going to be a painful summer or a happy one. I know learning is pain, especially when we have to present our hard work next to our peers’ and face subjective critique. That is art school. However, there is one thing I have trouble tolerating: the expectation to create while the teacher favors repetitive clichés, one more exaggerated than the next. I don’t want to draw mechanical robots, mean monsters, or muscular men. I don’t want to draw the typical sexy female sidekick. I don’t want to make another male-centered story that we have seen time and time again. By the end of one of my classes, I grudgingly added to my pitch, “…then they find a futuristic city inside the iceberg.” And that’s how I passed the night, with a cheap shot.
This experience has reassured me I chose the right school by not going to this one. It’s nearly impossible for me to create anything worth presenting under constant stress and discouragement. I’m glad professors at my school believe I will succeed in the major I choose except for this one professor who didn’t believe I will finish my spring semester but I will save that story for another day. All I’m saying is, I’m glad I go to an institution that may not be the best, but it is secure enough to not rely on fragile egos, fake branding, and a toxic work culture to maintain its value.
For just a little update,
It’s nearly three in the morning, and I refuse to beat myself for my sleep. No, I’m beating myself up for something else (because why else would I be writing here again?).
Sometimes, in art school, I have this sudden panic that I’m not fulfilling my full potential of being someone smarter with a science degree. I learned in art school I am damn good at sketching, drawing, designing, and even writing, but I literally have panic attacks when I encounter something related to science. All my memories flood back leaving me trying to pick up what was left by obsessively reading Nature articles and understanding none of it. It is just like before. I become frustrated and regretful and read even more, looking up terms I don’t have to know anymore on Wikipedia and still not understanding those damn papers. I was used to do this when I was a science major, but now that I had a bad breakup with my last major, that habit usually comes with a pang in my stomach and near asphyxiation. I feel like I have a combination of Alzheimer’s and PTSD symptoms where I am afraid of recognizing the words and figures that caused me so much self-hatred and doubt. Then, I would feel lost when I realize I really forgot them.
Deep down, I have this secret dream that I shot down when I didn’t believe I could do it. I have a secret dream of becoming a doctor. When I was in high school, I had a turbulent personal life and used to print out the Hippocratic Oath and tape it to my wall. Now, through all the withdrawals and “adventures”, I might be a different kind of doctor whose path to medicine is more curved than the usual “track.” I want to be the doctor who lived a great life and found great love before serving life, death, and wellness. I want to be a doctor who can draw and sing, the type that can tell when patients are thirsty or too cold, or scared or excited. Whenever I look at the possibilities of maybe going back to regular studying and using some of my old science credits to take a shot at medical school, I have this secret smile, because I know, as a designer, I am learning what it means to care for people by creating for them. Then, I am happy, because that girl who used to read the Hippocratic Oath to herself everyday gets a hug.
A classmate said, “You don’t smile.” “There is no joy in school,” I joked back. It was more of a half-joke, because I really don’t find any joy in school. My friends know it, my husband knows it, and even my teachers know it with my daily “unimpressed” expressions that make it very obvious I am a non-traditional age student. Only my husband knows that my lack of smiling is completely intentional. Smiling means weakness and approachability. I help people who ask me to help them out and share my opinions and experiences with them only to the extent of not making any relationship stick. This time around, I am refusing alliances, jealousy, and attachments.
I don’t know why I’m doing this, actually. Maybe it’s the spirit of competition, or maybe I stayed in Europe for too long and absorbed that comfortable coldness. Being alone in college made me notice why I was so successful in high school. Yes, I was a sleep-deprived over achiever, but take away the “sleep deprived” and “over.” There’s just “achiever” left. Effortless, isolated achievement that gives me time to myself and room to think. This also reduces emotional damage in case my bipolar symptoms pop up. I still get rages every couple of weeks and these strange bouts of sadness and happiness.
I also signed up for a counseling appointment and a health check up. I don’t know if I am playing too much Diablo or stressing out about the skeleton I am drawing for Life Drawing, but I have been having nightmares about my worst days, skeletons, and zombies for the last two weeks. Hopefully, the counselor can help out with that. Maybe it’s midterm stress? I experienced nightmares at Smith too that drained me of my energy on a daily basis and made me jumpy and anxious. Since it’s a pattern, I’m looking forward to the day I don’t have nightmares anymore.
This past month,
I have been trying to blog regularly–two posts week–to retain my ability to write and publish before I become a sketching robot for a big company. I’m following WordPress’s daily prompts, and today’s word is “subdued.” WordPress has not been the relaxed social media and blogging platform that Xanga was, but daily prompts provide some semblance of a community. So here goes:
Being subdued in American culture has a bad rap for being unimaginative and average, and I have experienced the benefits of being subdued and the hard life of not being subdued. Whenever I subdue or limit myself, I go beyond what I expected to do and end up being proud of myself. It is only when I lose control and fail to subdue my grandiose expectation for what I deserve and how I deserve to be treated that I end up a wreck and hate everything around me.
I never subdue my thoughts, but I’ve learned to subdue my behavior. When I didn’t, that is when I end up withdrawing from college, seeking new interest, and having to start over again. Even now, I have a hard time subduing my anger when getting feedback from my teachers who don’t acknowledge what I actually did right. I never know what I’m doing right, and when someone tells me I’m doing one thing wrong, my immediate reaction is that I am doing everything wrong. When that happens, I have learned to subdue myself with a wry smile and express my desperation for approval by throwing whatever I am holding in my hand on the table before I fix my mistakes. When I do subdue my expectations for how I do, I usually end up doing better than I thought.
I think I finally learned that concept when I was in Denmark for two months. Danes’ culture have The Law of Jante, where you should not expect to be better than others and set low expectations that are easy to reach. There was this feeling of people appreciating and taking advantage of what they have regardless of what they could afford. Living there would make me redefine the word “subdued” as “low-key.” Regardless of my internet temper tantrums, my mental health this semester is golden solely due to my expectation of earning no higher than a B in every class. Whenever my jealousy gets the better of me, I remind myself: Be the best “B” student there is, and everything becomes okay.
On our first anniversary,
My husband and I went to iHop, the Getty, video chatted with this mother, and then went home to eat dinner with my family. I always felt the usual idea of an anniversary is so bland. Especially for couples without children, wouldn’t you want to spend your day surrounded by mutual friends and family rather than isolating yourselves on a weekend trip? After all, it wasn’t just the two of us at the wedding. The least you can do is drop a hello for your witnesses.
Anyway, that’s today. We have also been using Duolingo to retain the little Danish we learned while he was doing his PhD in Denmark. Right now, I’m still on Clothing. It’s going to be a while before I can post my new “skill” on LinkedIn. I’m also working on Italian and Spanish despite my horrible memories of Spanish class from high school. I guess my overall goal is to become a designer who doesn’t just design for your own company, country, or demographic. Learning a new language reminds you that there are whole other ways of living that we aren’t considering in our design.
Speaking of design, I noticed how tired design students are all the time. Their weariness makes me scared for the relaxed lifestyle I lead. Will I really be so caught up in my work that I will have to spend all-nighters at school? Or will I manage my time and know myself enough to product quality ideas without sacrificing my quality of life? Those are my questions for the tired design student. In the race to grow your brand, make your name, I’d rather be a turtle than a hare.
It’s been a while since I wrote, so here goes. I stopped writing because one time in class, I accidentally showed a draft of one of my blog entries on the projector. I usually process my writing in a Word Processor before putting it online, because I usually keep a benchmark of 1 page double spaced to prevent myself from rambling or cutting things short. Phew, glad I vented about that. 🙂
I started real school. No more night school although the skills I gained in night school are indispensable. Right now, my goals are to obtain a degree in Toy Design and then work for a large toy company in Southern California. Then I want an MBA in management, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself again. Better to have a humble goal like that and take the time for myself than trying to reach an unattainable goal like getting a job at a science and technology company. My husband has told me better to aim lower and be the best than aim high and be the worst.
Also, I just want to pat myself on the back for keeping this blog up for so long. How long has it been? Four years? I’m scared to go back and check at how much of a wreck I was, but I feel it’s been pretty damn long. Another blog I’ve kept for this long is my Tumblr, which used to be a collection of feminist and super political memes and now turned into an artsy fartsy blog of things I can’t buy.
I will update on my progress in school once I get past my second or third semester. If you know me or have read my previous blogs, I may have blogged once or twice about withdrawing from my liberal arts college in the east coast. I ended up withdrawing from the school during my second semester and my sixth semester of my Neuroscience major. Therefore, let’s not make any promises we can’t keep.
Within a year,
I have done more than people usually do in a few years, said my mom. She was just trying to make me feel better, I know it. All I’ve done was get married, travel to China and Denmark, and change my career. I guess when you’re in your 20s or at least when you leave school a lot tends to happen within a year.
Currently, I’m in a love-hate relationship with my potential major (product design). Loving doing the thing, but I hate the people in my class. I just dislike people in general and I don’t warm up to strangers very well. The group last semester was fine, but this semester, I have to adjust to a whole new group of people, none of whom are that willing to be close friends with me. After most of my classmates from last semester left, I’m unwilling to make any steady friends until I get in.
Also, my career seems to be a lot of waiting and being on hold. I have classes Tuesday through Saturday except for Wednesday. My Tuesday and Thursday classes barely have any homework but I can never finish my work for Saturday!? That has gotten me down a lot. As a result, I’ve felt so inferior that I was going to quit until an admissions counselor told me I don’t suck. Everyone was happy to hear it, but the effects have worn off on me. Back to being depressed about my life and the increasingly nagging feeling that I should go back to some kind of normal school.
I miss writing. I miss reading. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I also miss science. I look at my old classmates sharing science related stuff on Facebook and I no longer miss science. Or, at least I don’t miss sharing pop science and trivial studies just to legitimize my career choice. At least I am being honest with myself when I say where I am now is leading me to what I want to do.