This time yesterday, I was a ball of anxiety. I felt sick, my stomach was in knots and my mind was full of catastrophe. Yesterday, was the day before my final assessment for a module I’m taking at Wolverhampton this year called ‘Final Major Project’. Yesterday, I was really, rather nervous. I am sure my family were close to divorcing me. I was not nice to live with.
Now I am on the other side. I’ve had the assessment I was dreading. This assessment consisted of a 20-minute tutorial with two tutors in which the student (me) explains in 10 minutes 5 months worth of exploration and research and the tutors (my main tutor and another) spend 10 minutes asking questions and suggesting a next step. For this short 20-minute activity, I will receive 70% of half of this year’s grade. The other 30% comes from a similar assessment I went through in January and the other half comes from my dissertation. So this was A Big Deal. This was worth getting nervous about.
Just before the assessment, I came across this article. Reading this from the train station to the art building really helped get me through today. It gave me that boost of (false) confidence I needed.
But back to yesterday, when I was feeling enormous pressure to perform reasonably well. In my head, this time yesterday, I was imagining complete failure, being struck dumb, saying the wrong things, not saying enough, saying something stupid, bursting into tears, running out of the room or fainting or vomiting on the floor. Luckily, none of my fears came true. It was fine. It was positive. It went ok. I didn’t embarrass myself and that is the main thing.
The relief I felt after the assessment was over was immense. The knotted feeling left me immediately. Hunger kicked in. And I felt, for a moment, euphoric. The euphoria comes after the disappearance of the worry. I get it when I leave the dentist. The euphoria wasn’t so much about content of the assessment itself, it was just the ‘its finally over’ feeling. So for that moment I felt the realisation that I am not A Total Failure.
So as today’s events unfolded, I came to the conclusion that this is the life of the art student (and probably the artist too) and I need to just suck it up and get on with it. Twenty-four hours ago everything was awful, it was rubbish, it was boring, it was pointless, it was not going to work. I was going to fail. The whole thing was going to be a disaster. They were going to tell me that they didn’t get it. I was not going to be able to explain myself. I was not going to be able to finish my degree. I was going to cry, a lot. I was going to have to pack up my belongings in a box, hand back my student card, and leave. I was sure that was going to happen. Today, I want to do an Masters. Why not stop there? I could become a real artist! Life is great. This is fun. I love being an artist! Who wouldn’t love this life!
The creative life is about extreme ups and downs. The downs are horrid. They don’t feel as if they will ever end. They are the wells of despair. Yesterday, I was in need of Leo McGarry’s wisdom. I needed him to offer his hand to the bottom of the well. Today, I feel normal again. I’m out of the well. I was off balance yesterday. The litmus test would have come out acidic. I felt toxic. Today, I feel calm and lovely. The world is an okish place to be. The ups are nice. I like the ups. We need more ups.
Tomorrow, things might change. I still have to exhibit. I still have work to do. And then, there is next year. I still need to have ideas. That will never stop. The self-doubt? That won’t stop either.