After writing my last blog post, I’ve had time to ruminate on the events that I spoke about. I remember that after I had graduated university with a disappointing 2:2 mark for my BA, I immediately blamed myself for making the wrong decisions with my further education.
I looked back at the crossroads that I had been presented with at the end of college and deduced that I had absolutely made the wrong decision, that I should have gone ahead with the foundation course at college. Then maybe, just maybe, I’d have made a different decision, a better decision, and chosen a better university course.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the university course that I did end up doing was a BA in Fine Art. Having graduated with a score that I wasn’t at all happy with, and finding myself unable to immediately land a good, well-paid graduate job, I was absolutely certain that I had been a fool all along. Who was I to believe that a course in art would lead me to my dream job?
Of course, precisely what that dream job was, even I was uncertain. The problem was, I had stopped listening to myself and I had started to listen to unhelpful detractors. Many people said, “Well, what did you expect? Of course your art degree was bound to lead you nowhere.” And several more said, “There are no jobs in fine art.”
Angry at myself and at the world around me, I gave up on my art practice completely. I took the 2:2 to mean I wasn’t a good artist – and I took my inability to find a job as a sign that the profession of artist (or any art related profession for that matter) was bogus.
In essence, I turned my back on the person I had been for the past six years. I declared art useless. I declared myself useless. I fell into a deep, dark depression. Not only did I not want to pursue art anymore, I didn’t want to pursue anything.
My art practice and my creative writing have always been intrinsically linked. The fact that I had stopped drawing and painting meant that I had also ceased writing. The longer this hiatus from creative arts dragged on, the worse I felt. The began applying for jobs that were was as unrelated to creativity as possible. I decided that a creative lifestyle simply wasn’t for me.
There were two things that brought me back to thinking creatively: the teacher from college who had taught me to use a sketchbook as a documentary tool, and my late-dad – a man who had never given up on anything he’d decided to pursue.
My dad was creative in a much more practical way. From a young age, he’d wanted to be an architect, but life took him in another direction. Irregardless, he never gave up on his dream, and designed the plans and built a garage and car-port extension on our family home, with very little assistance. He enjoyed pottery – making bowls and little models of houses – and wood-turning vases and decorative bowls.
Watching my dad’s quiet, persistent creativity never dying, I was slowly inspired to return to my art. It took me a while to attain the disciple I had cultivated at university, but eventually I was filling sketchbooks and painting once more.
I think it’s easy to give something good up, and a lot harder to pick it up again. The most important thing is to ensure you’re doing what you want to do. What you really want to do. Doing something when you really hate doing so is almost more tragic than somebody wanting to do something but never finding the time. It’s important to listen to yourself, be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to have breaks from projects and ventures.
Most of all, never tell yourself you were foolish for pursuing something you wanted to at the time. And even if what you were doing got you nowhere, you likely learned many lessons along the way. Besides, life is too short to bemoan your past actions, and the present is far more important.