Life Academy

I was writing in my journal this morning – pouring out my fears and concerns regarding the future and what I’ll do after I finish school in less than a year. Having a steady job – or even a good paying job – has always felt out of reach for me. Right after high school I decided to volunteer as a missionary for a few months in Ireland (honestly, I just wanted a reason to travel), and when I returned I attended my hometown community college. I received a full-ride scholarship through the theatre department. Free college? Heck yes, sign me up! But once I completed my Associate’s degree I couldn’t decide where to finish off college and get my BA degree, or with what major. I had too many interests. Did I want to focus on acting? Directing? Writing? It seemed too expensive to go to school when I didn’t have a laser focused passion. I decided to go back to Ireland to continue missionary work (actually, I just loved Ireland and didn’t know how to move and work there), but within a year I was very aware of what I passionately did NOT want to do. Returning home I looked into a few acting conservatories. I auditioned and was promptly not accepted. “Fine!”, I thought, “I don’t need school, I’ll just learn from experience and start working in the real world”. With that decision, I moved to L.A to study improv and try working as an actor in Hollywood. I had a friend moving down at the time and it felt like an easier way to move out of my small town to the big city with him than try and move New York on my own. I only planned to be in L.A for a year (here I am now at almost 10 years in L.A and still loving it) but for the past 10+ years I have struggled so hard to make a living: to pay rent, buy food, pay for my car, and afford some lifestyle luxuries (ie: clothes and dining out once in awhile). If I felt poor as a missionary, I felt just slightly less poor as a struggling actor.

Now, here I am back at school (I finally discovered something I had been passionate about all along) but I’m scared I won’t find a good paying job, that I’ll still be underqualified because I won’t have a Master’s Degree in design. I’ll be receiving a sort of Associate’s + degree with my Professional Designation course in Visual Communication. Will that be enough?! I can’t afford to go to school longer right now.

All this to preface my journal entry excerpt I wanted to share with you today. So here it is:

… but why does this nagging shadowy creature called “eductaion” keep tapping me on the shoulder – telling me I haven’t had enough “proper school” to be the professional designer I dream to be? I think there is always this creature lurking behind everyone’s back – whispering into your ear that you are not good enough, you’re an imposter and someday you will be found out.  I think in the arts it feels so much more scary and real because art is so personal and vulnerable.

But, I think with a passion to learn and a passion for the craft you can still move ahead even though you may not be in the brick cube confines of a school. My schooling is the world that I live in, the access to a multitude of books I can find in libraries, to DVD commentaries and trying things out by designing for friends’ projects. This is my lifetime academy. I will never stop learning, I just need to remember this when I fall into the trap of comparing myself to other designers I admire and want to be like. 

I write about this a lot and am constantly trying to cheer myself on when I feel like all the odds are against me…

I know the importance of education but if you can’t afford to go to school or continue to add to your degrees, it is not the be all end all. At least I hope not. So I’m going to see how far I can go just by learning by experience and soaking up whatever information I can.

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