I am now a sophomore at an art and design college and in several ways doing that thing that the lucky ones among us are instructed to do growing up. I’m following my dreams! Go me! High five!
Just a short two years ago I was sitting in a classroom of about 20 girls in a building that was about a hundred years old. A nun had just showed us an absolutely thrilling slideshow about her journey to joining the church, and now she was forcing us into discussion.
“How many of you here are considering joining the order?” she asked. Funny joke, sister! High five!
I was a senior at an all-girls Catholic college preparatory academy full of the ambitious, the bright, the know-it-alls, and the easily stereotyped. And about 95% of the time, I wondered what the hell I was doing there. I mean, the school was challenging and supportive and it made me smarter and stuff, but I knew very, very clearly what I wanted to do and how to do it, and getting through high school seemed like more of an obstacle than a Building Block to a Better Future or what have you. The hope of getting into art school was the light at the end of the tunnel that kept me on top of all my shit. I used my art school dreaminz to get me through the goddamn day!
(If you want to listen to a song while you read the rest of this entry, I would suggest hitting play on the video below right … now.)
Probably most teenagers don’t know exactly what they want to do when they get out of school and suddenly, finally have more choices. But some of us know really early on, and the thing that’s hard for kids like us is that there are all of these hoops you have to jump through regardless. Like, you know, high school. While I wanted to learn how to screen-print posters for my friends’ bands’ shows, I had to endure instead lessons on how to properly cite and annotate papers, which I always messed up anyway. While I wished I were in a studio class learning how to design fashion editorials for magazines, I had to watch my classmates in U.S. history awkwardly present group-effort PowerPoints in with that awful pink bubble design and distortedly stretched pictures from Google Images. No!!! So much pain in my eyes! But besides all that, understanding high school as just a thing to be tolerated until I could be where I need to be actually helped me get through the silliness of its social politics and lectures about “joining the order.”
And here I am now. I got here. I’m writing this while sitting in one of my digital/screen-based design classes while my instructor goes through the history of something blah blah computery design boring… This is the situation I, with a ton of glitter and fairy dust and rainbows, fantasized about in high school. But half-listening to this lecture, I still feel restless like I did back then. I’m still in a classroom, and I’m still being assigned things that I don’t have earth-moving passion and enthusiasm about. Go figure. And now I’m wondering, if this is my dream that I achieved and everything is great and all … why don’t I feel completely satisfied? And what comes next?
Work is work, and class is class, and yeah, some versions are better than others. Maybe dreaming about sitting in just a different kind of class isn’t the place to put all of my fantasies. I’m realizing that as I chug along through the end of my teenage years, dreams adapt. They change. That’s OK. Each dream gets me through what I need to do until I get there and realize it’s not the end of the glittery unicorn rainbow. As much as I wish it did, life does not look like an illustration from a Lisa Frank Pee Chee folder. Now that I’m here and looking for what’s next, I guess there’s only one more thing to do. Find a new goal, and DREAM THE CRAP OUT OF IT!
“All your dreams will come true. All my dreams came true, but now I have a bunch of other dreams.” —Kim Gordon ♦