“In spite of everything…”

“In spite of everything, I shall rise again; I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.” -Vincent Van Gogh

Here we go.

I’ve been in school for awhile, but I’m a “first year” art student–meaning I finally decided on a major after three years of deliberation.

I was never the “artistic kid.” You know the one. Took art class through middle and high school, made the best dioramas and posters, always had their projects displayed in the halls, created things that made you want to cry and/or choke them? Yeah. That guy. I was always so envious of them, but I never had a knack for art. Especially not drawing. Hoo boy. I could not draw my way out of a paper bag.

But then I took Photography 1 my senior year of high school. It wasn’t a defining moment of my life–From now on I will create ART–but those classes were definitely the highlight of my schedule. My photography teacher was impressed with my work, and even entered one of my photographs in a competition.
(I didn’t win.)

So photography became one of my main hobbies. I oft’ daydreamed of becoming a photographer for National Geographic or the like, but disregarded the notion as just that–a dream.

The two years following my graduation from high school were, to put it simply, Hell. I went through some heavy stuff, man. I dealt with some things.
But no, really. Times were hard.

One of my stressors was deciding on a major. It felt like do or die. Decide now and decide well because these few years will dictate the rest of your liiiife.
This is what teachers and counselors and colleges were telling me. I had to decide on my lifetime occupation when I was 17. I call bulls***, society. Why is this a race? I’ve got plenty of years ahead of me. I am in no hurry to get a 401K, health insurance, a house with a white picket fence, etc. etc.

So I took my damn time. I went through 7(ish) major changes including conservation biology, psychology, sustainability, gender studies, international politics…you get it. I was all over the map.

Through all the codswallop I was dealing with, I was still taking pictures. Sometimes it was the only thing that got me out of bed. It fed that nagging voice in the back of my head: “What if, what if…”

I knew it would take more than 4 years at a big state U  to put me on the track to a fulfilling life, so I forced aside my fears of failure and poverty and followed the only dream I couldn’t let go of: photography.

So here I am. In three days I will be done with my “first semester” as an art student. It wasn’t easy. I never (successfully) drawn anything more complicated than the doodles on my math notes before January and I hadn’t taken a digital photography class for years. So I’m not 100% pleased with my work from this semester. I’m sure I won’t be for a long time, but that’s what will keep me going.

…except for during the (not entirely infrequent) moments of doubt.
It is then that I will force myself to remember the wise words of Mr. Van Gogh.

TL;DR: I need incentive. I need practice. I need growth. I don’t know if I can do this seven days a week–more than likely it’ll be four or five, but at the end of this I will have 365 somethings. A photo, a drawing, a painting, a mashed potato sculpture–I just need to create.

Here we go.


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