You know those movies where there’s this woman, usually a twenty-something, who’s endearingly and frustratingly doing everything wrong in her life and just can’t seem to catch a break? This is the direction my life is heading toward. However, in those movies, the girl usually finds her footing and everything ties itself up into pretty little bows and it’s eluded that our affable protagonist lives a life full of happiness and success. You see, this is where we differ. I know that life isn’t like the movies, of course I do. But I’m so afraid that my life isn’t going to be what I want it to be. Part of it is because I feel directionless and stuck, currently. I just can’t seem to figure out what exactly I’m doing or what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s horrifying. My self confidence isn’t the greatest and that’s a serious problem that I’ve dealt with my whole life. You can read all the inspirational quotes you want and your mother can tell you how wonderful you are and you can have little successes and all these things that are meant to build up your self-confidence, but they don’t last when you’re perpetually unsure of yourself. My whole life I’ve undermined my ability. I’ve made myself less than so I wouldn’t have to face disappointment. Things got particularly bad in college. I was pursuing something that I absolutely loved and was so excited about, but after a semester with a couple demeaning and hateful professors, I lost any ounce of confidence and motivation I had to excel in my chosen degree. Those particular professors went on to make my remaining semesters in college hell. I felt targeted and bullied. I started taking a lackadaisical attitude toward my schoolwork and projects. The situation I was in was completely foreign to me. From kindergarten to senior year of high school I had been a successful student and a teacher’s pet. I felt as though there was no pleasing them, even if I did try. Being on the bottom of the totem pole was shattering, and I crumbled. I developed a distaste for authority and challenged them in any way I knew how. I’ve always had a passion for typography. When I asked my printmaking professor (one of the professors I felt detested me) if I could do a type study in printmaking, she told me no, that it wasn’t an art form, which is ludicrous. Type is a beautiful study of shape and form, light and shadow. It incorporates everything traditional drawing teaches you. To this professor, it “wasn’t art”. I was outraged. It was like artistic oppression, and I honestly believed had one of her favorite students asked, she would have agreed to let them pursue anything they wanted. I know she would have. I mean, y’all, I’m not making this stuff up. That same printmaking teacher told my parents she was “surprised that my graduation exhibition was successful”, talked about me, my grades, and my artwork to another student, and insulted me and my work in class on numerous occasions. She was the absolute worst and I thank my lucky stars every single day that I don’t ever have to deal with her again.
I studied current graphic designers. I studied trends and was up to date on all the latest design news, but I was never lauded or made to feel like I was a successful designer. I was always inadequate. In my time at college, there were only two art professors that I felt made my time spent there worthwhile. Two that encouraged and supported me and made me feel like I wasn’t a worthless designer, and I’m so thankful for them. One was an art history professor and one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and the other an adjunct drawing professor who was interested in contemporary art and exploring what was going on in the art world today and allowing students to find their own distinct voice, unlike the other professors. When I graduated from college, I was so excited to get my life going. To become a successful designer, to make a name for myself and prove the idiot professors wrong. Jump ahead, and not even a year later I’m going back to school to be a teacher. It feels like failure, and it makes me sick to my stomach. I am excited to become a high school english teacher, don’t get me wrong. I love reading and writing and learning, but there’s something about abandoning my dreams and doing something more feasible that just doesn’t sit right with me. After submitting a paper in my psychology class about perception, my teacher pulled me aside before class one night and told me that I was a very successful writer and I should consider teaching college instead of high school. This was just the stroke my confidence needed. Liz Lemon’s mantra soon became my mantra. “I can have it all!”
College professor… I could do that. What if I didn’t teach english… what if I taught a film studies class? What if I taught a film studies class and had a graphic design business on the side? What if I was a film studies professor with a graphic design business and a successful, popular blog? I can do it! I can have it all!
Of course, it’s still taking some serious brain power to make myself fully believe all this. One compliment about my writing isn’t going to pull me out of this funk, though it was just the push I needed to start believing in myself. Eleanor Roosevelt really struck gold with her quote, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. It’s so true, and it’s going to take some time, but I’m learning to live by that.