stagnation period


View of some offices at a school building.

I did not want to write this post. Nothing new, nothing I haven’t already mulled over. I think it’s just another sort of what people call “writer’s block”, or “artist’s block”; I would not be so pretentious as to adopt such monikers (despite my tendency to disperse Interesting clichéd phrases throughout my expressions). A “creative block” is too big of a name. I cannot claim that I am (a) creative, which is a pretty trite thing to argue about, considering I go to university for art/theory… anyway, whatever whatever! I am full of bullshit and backed-up in the brains. Yes, school’s fully back in swing, in-person. The biggest change is that I have somehow become ambitious over the past year. This is becoming a problem.

You see, in all my … about 17 years of schooling, I’ve never had to work hard. I never had any interests, any talents, any willingness to Do Badly At First, and then Improve. In my mind, I had to be naturally good and better than everyone else, or else I was a loser and an outsider. Whether it was because of that type of thinking or some self-fulfilling prophecies or maybe That and everything altogether, I frequently felt like an outsider, and either incredibly smart or incredibly stupid. Throughout elementary school my teachers thought I was either a child genius or an idiot (although whether that was the mental illness or just my shitty personality is up for debate), and in high school I was perhaps more mentally ill and even more obsessive about… myself. I wanted to have friends and have fun, but all my friends were people with goals or confidence or abusive backgrounds and slight trauma from the domestic horrors we somehow shared and bonded over, etc. Which meant that we were all kinda fucked in the head (or heart, or ego) and fed off of each other terribly. With my pretty-good memory and mild martyr complex, I managed to do well enough (for our own standards) and keep up with those people while also staying up late texting them about their problems. Basically, my mom considered this a waste of my brain—I memorized the textbook the morning/lunch of a test and would only lose at most 5 points out of 80. I didn’t work hard.

I made it to university, to an art/architecture faculty based on those test marks alone. Before I even submitted my portfolio I was accepted. To be honest, this was confusing to me. This meant that my actual work wasn’t the basis that they evaluated me on. I could’ve been absolutely shit at art or design! What’s the point? I wasn’t good at art. I’m not creative after all. In my high school painting classes I did badly. I hated copying famous Canadian paintings, or using watercolour, or using charcoal. I was bad at drawing and painting and making stuff, I guess. I stopped taking art in grade 11 because I thought: since I sucked, why bother anymore? Of course, I never stopped drawing. I would take 10 sheets of blank paper from my friend every morning, and fill them up with silly shit. I never took notes in class, but I was always drawing. In grade 12 I took the studio class. I finally had free reign over what I chose to draw, or not draw. I realized I didn’t like drawing. Was it fun if I was bad at it? Could something be worthwhile if I wasn’t special, or good? At the end of year exhibition, most of my friends didn’t go. Regardless, I felt proud of myself. Sure, half the pieces I crammed in the last 2 months, but this was something complete, that I conceptualized from beginning to end, and even if it was objectively bad, I still produced something. My goal was simply to finish the portfolio, so I didn’t think much further about it. Earlier in the year I had already accepted the offer to the university I’m at now. I shouldn’t have complained about the evaluative process, to be honest: I used a similar portfolio for my application to an art school and received an offer. I turned it down, though. I wanted to leave. Maybe figure some Things out.

It took me until third year to realize that I do like to draw. Or maybe I re-found what made me want to draw as a child. I also realized that I just like to make things, and make things about myself, and tell stories… I want everything I do to reflect everything that I am, and as a result I am now even more obnoxious in my classes than I ever have been. I teeter-totter the line between arrogance and a deep self-hatred everyday. I was elected co-chair of my thesis class the other day. I was confused, but relieved. I got home and began to be afraid. This was a scam. I’m bad at art. I hyped myself up, wrote a litte blurb about how I was excited and reliable and nice, and I spoke (too?) confidently about my ideas for my thesis project, I roped others into my ideas. You know, I’m lying. I have no idea what I’m doing. I sat in front of my computer all Thursday, doubting my concepts. It’s too ambitious. I can’t do it. The idea isn’t even that cool. Someone else has done it before, and better. It doesn’t even make sense. Do you think people will get it? Why didn’t the instructors talk me out of it? My parents don’t even know what I do at school, and it’s my fault.

2:30AM is definitely the Time for self-defeating thought cycles and self-hatred -doubt -etc, but I think writing it out might make it a little less distracting, and I can actually get on with my proposals and writing drafts. I wish I had an actual conclusion to this post but I really don’t have one at the moment. Maybe later, maybe never. I’m procrastinating because the better I do at school, the more pressure there is and the higher the standards I set for myself are. Will I ever fail? Will I be alright? Will I learn to work harder after cruising through the past decade and a bit? Is this imposter syndrome thing legit? Can I just get a good night’s sleep?

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *