I decided to work on my drawing homework Thursday night–and I kept complaining to my forever-gracious roommate, knowing my petulance wasn’t helpful for anyone. But such restless negativity rose in my throat as I contemplated the simple, beneficial task of flipping through a packet of basic head anatomy and practicing the concepts. My brain froze up whenever I touched pencil to paper. I had so many other things to do aside from this, all of which were overshadowed by the endeavors I would rather have been working on.
I supposed I could perform the bare minimum in response to my time constraints, but I wanted to practice through all of that oddly infuriating packet. Not just for the sake of overachieving, but for the purpose of giving myself as much practice as possible–an expression of determining to work much harder than I feel I’m capable of.
So, I was frustrated, but I worked on it anyway. Not really in the sense of “grin and bear it”–more in the sense of blasting angst music and scowling at my sketchbook as I drew and erased line after line. I must have looked furious–as, in a way, I was furious–but not filled with hatred, surprisingly enough. I felt relief, in the acknowledgement that I am not at all happy with my current ability level, and that my desire to improve makes it difficult to live in the moment.
I’ve been reflecting on this week and its predecessors. The ups and downs. Fleeting moments of excitement and aggravation, comforting assurance and cold mediocrity. It reminds me of gymnastics, actually–something I used to be obsessively passionate about in high school. Perhaps one of the most important lessons the sport taught me was that bad days eventually lead to good ones.
Struggle ends in growth.
I think it’s just been a disconcerting transition. I have been so incredibly inspired the last several months, but as this semester continues, this optimism is slipping away, and I find myself faced with a choice. It’s time to either buckle down, or to give up–to shift to second gear or to back out while I still have time. I have to decide if I’m ready and willing to weather the storm. To persist when doubt creeps in, plans fail, and motivation dies. To refuse to let go when holding on begins to hurt.
And to embrace intimidation.
This week, I have learned intimidation is not necessarily bad when used in the context of the creative arts. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my drawing classes this semester are full of people much more skilled than me, and this sometimes (or often) sets me ill-at-ease. But art class is not a competition, and my peers really are fun individuals to get to know and grow alongside.
Feeling mediocre and inferior in the shadow of greater experience is natural, and those feelings are valid. But they must be taken further. A tumblr post by Noelle Stevenson really encouraged me regarding this concept. True, intimidation can drive an individual to discouragement, but it can also be a powerful motivator to push someone to strive to be better, work harder, learn more.
So, I must encourage those already much better than me, as well as have the courage to believe in my own ability to improve. Despite my chronic impatience, I must make every effort to enjoy the journey–an endeavor which has never come naturally to me.
For this, I am exceedingly glad I don’t have to sort through everything alone.
God keeps me sane. Keeps me hopeful.