17 January, 2009

Assumptions, part 1

I think I've finally figured out why I have been so desperate to move home lately. Being female and raised in modern American culture, my self confidence is of course hanging on by a thread, dangling over a very steep fall. I suspect that St. Martins put a scissor to the thread.

Everyone makes assumptions about themselves. Your assumptions will subconsciously urge you to continue patterns of behavior that reinforce them. You of course never consider your own invisible expectations of life until they are severely challenged. In fact you probably didn't even realize you even had any before then.

Despite my perilous relationship with self confidence, there were quite a few assumptions hanging by that thread. I didn't realize what I had hanging out there until it fell and shattered. Picking up the shards, I am beginning to see the flimsy ideas I had about myself and my place in the world.

I want to think out loud a little bit, if you don't mind. I want to share what I'm thinking as I being to realize what my own assumptions were and are. Maybe if I can look them straight on, I can change them. Maybe I can adjust my attitude and sort of change how everything "behind the scenes" is working...

So....

I suspect that I have held a secret belief that I could be impressive without too much effort. That is not to say that I am lazy, but when I work relatively hard on something I generally do pretty well at it. I suppose I wanted to believe I was the kind of person who was naturally gifted at nearly everything.

But of course that isn't true. Anything that challenged that belief made me incredibly angry. When I took dance classes a few years back and couldn't make my body move the way I wanted, I became furious and gave up dancing entirely. The same was the case with drawing a few years before that. I am not very forgiving when it comes to the learning process. I expect myself to see something done and then be able to do it. If I can't, I hate myself for it because it makes me question the belief that I should be effortlessly good at everything.

I was at the top of my class in most subjects throughout school. I had gotten used to being praised even when I thought my work wasn't up the standard I imposed upon myself. Without realizing it I was living with the assumption that even when I didn't like my own work, it was always good anyhow. And then I came to Central St. Martins...

Right away I realized my idea of hard work had to change. What had been A+ quality work at my last school wouldn't even earn a passing grade here. What I had once been able to do without trying anything that didn't come naturally to me, I suddenly had to reach for. And half of the time I don't even know what exactly I'm trying to reach, but I know that I have to keep stretching myself in hopes of finding it.

I have no idea what I am aiming for, or how I intend to get there. But I know that part of the reason I am struggling now is that for the first time in my life, I realize that I have to work my ass off if I want to earn even a passing grade. And I don't even know what "working my ass off" really means! Now I am being challenged at every step of the way, and the assumption I held that I could do quite well with only a little effort has been destroyed. Even my idea of what "effort" meant has had to change, and is still changing.

This is one assumption that, despite being shattered into pieces, is dying off very slowly. I think I still cling to the hope that somewhere inside of me is a natural talent that will come save me. But I guess the only thing that will save me now is lots and lots and lots of effort.

1 comment:

chrismferguson said...

I really enjoyed this post. I hope everything gets better.

-- CMF