Life

I almost dropped out

Fall term was rough. I had a close friend run into some troubles and I was spending a lot of time making sure their life stays on track. I also had a death in the family during the first week of the term, which was somewhat expected, but none-the-less heartbreaking. On top of that, I was commuting about 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. After 10 weeks and almost 8,500 miles, I needed a break and the plan was to take a year off.

Thanks to the wonderful world of financial-aid-fuckery, I couldn’t take a break. That would mean my six-month grace period would kick in and I’d have to start making payments on my loans. This wouldn’t be a huge deal since the plan was to get a full-time job. However, after I do finish my final year I’d have to start making payments again immediately after graduation since the grace period will have already been used up. This is an issue because my path to becoming a Registered Dietitian involves applying and paying for an internship in order to get the RD credential. Basically, I’d be in an unpaid internship for a year post graduation AND I’d have to be paying off my school loans. There may be deferment options in this situation, but I don’t want to run the risk or deal with the paperwork, phone calls, etc. I decided to reduce my credit hours to half-time so I’m still making progress on my degree and I can put off student loan payments a little while longer.

It’s currently 3 weeks into Winter term and things are going well. I’m really glad to be taking the term at a slower pace. All that craziness of last term and all the nonsense of figuring out credit-hour requirements aside, I’m glad I didn’t take a full-on break. Being able to take fewer classes and spend more time on the material with less stress and anxiety means I’m able to retain more information and maintain my sanity. I’ve always been the type of person that needs to take my time and digest information slowly and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

I think it’s really important for people to take things at a pace that challenges them, but it should also work well for them. I can’t speak for anyone else or tell you all how you should run your lives, so I’ll just say from my experience, mental health, physical health, and sleep are worth more than finishing a degree in four years (among other things).

#itsnotarace

The difference between finding time and making time for art.

Can you agree that you are usually the hardest on yourself most of the time? I certainly am. Recently, I’ve been disappointed in my neglecting to work on any of the “masterpieces-to-be” that are chillin’ in my garage. And yet with that disappointed voice nagging in my mind, I sit here typing out this post. Though I did tweak my back last night at work (twice). So, I don’t really want to move around too much, but I digress because there are always a million reasons NOT to do something.

The point I’m getting at is one I read in “Art & Fear ~ Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking.” I’ve read it twice and thoroughly enjoyed the motivating – yet brutally diminishing – theme of the book. It had a key message that stands out in my mind at this time simply due to the situation I’m in now. There is a passage discussing the difference between finding time for artmaking, and making time for artmaking. I can’t find the exact passage at the moment so I’ll do my best summarize it.

As artists, we make excuses about why we can’t sit down for a few hours to work, probably more often than we realize. There is an  endless river of “obligations” and “plans” that prevent us from reaching our serene garden of essential creative time. The issue is not the lack of time, it’s that we don’t make the time, either for fear of failing, rejection, or whatever. Unless you set aside time to do it, you may never get it done. How do you know whether you will succeed or fail if you don’t ever get around to trying? I feel it’s a struggle I share with a lot of people.

The idea of sharing struggles with millions of artists is one of the many humbling points made in the book that makes me feel less alone as an artist and part of a community, but at the same time, less unique and more “common.” It’s a good book if you want a reality check and an ego boost all wrapped into one concise read.

The book also contains quotations from various artists and historical figures at the head of each chapter. Here’s a suitable one for the end of this post. . .

Artists don’t get down to work
until the pain of working is exceeded
by the pain of
not working.
                         –Stephen DeStaebler

P.S. – Does taking the time to talk about my lack of time to create art count towards making time for creating art?