Doing Things Backwards
I didn’t start taking art seriously until 4 years ago.
It was 2015 and I was 37 years old at the time.
Since that year, I have devoted myself more and more to this crazy passion called Making Art. In 2015, I had my art stuff tucked in a little cubbyhole under our staircase, and used a small desk and a table.
Fast forward to today, 2019, when I have quite literally taken over the whole dining room of our house. Since we don’t have a large TV and couch, there is really no need for a living room, so what was once a living room became the dining room.
Now, I have a giant L-shaped desk. I have equipment and supplies. I spend, on average, 4 or more hours a day doing art.
I also work a part time job at a non-profit.
I also have 5 children in a blended family with my fiancé. So things are pretty busy most of the time.
A lot of the time, I feel like I’ve done things completely backwards.
The Order of Things
I often felt like I had to do things a certain way, in a certain order. Graduate high school, go to college, get a job, get married, have a family . . . even though in today’s world there are SO many things to do and ways to do them, it still seems like this is the “norm” that is ingrained in us from the time we are kids.
The problem I had with the “correct” order of Things is that the correct order didn’t work for me. I went to college at 17 and had no idea what career I wanted, so I just picked something or I would have had to go 5 years since I wouldn’t have enough time for all my required courses if I didn’t pick in my freshman year. After I graduated with a teaching degree, I taught public school for two years and then got burned out, so I went to a temp agency. I got married and had my daughter, and then got divorced and was a single mom for 2 years.
Only in my 30’s did I start doing things for myself instead of what others told me I should do. I took a part time job at a non-profit because it allowed me to be able to drop my daughter off from school and pick her up. I met someone online. I decided to take art seriously for the first time.
Now, at age 40, I feel like I have an inkling what I want to do with my life.
Twenty years after I was told to pick a career in my advisor’s office on a warm and sunny fall day.
It Takes Time to Figure Stuff Out
I now know that putting all that pressure on a 17 year old kid to choose her life was too much. I loved art back then, but I had no confidence. I didn’t think “art” was a career choice for me. It was only for talented people, or glamourous and mysterious Avant Garde people. People who weren’t afraid to live outside the lines. I wasn’t anything like those type of people, so I didn’t even know the choice I really wanted was available to me. You might as well have asked me if I was going to try out for the NBA. It was about as realistic.
But now? Now I’ve had heartache and heartbreak. I have learned that just because you have the skills to do something doesn’t mean you are required to do that. I’ve learned what situations lift me up and what ones drain me. I’ve learned that it takes time to know things, and to learn things. Overnight sensations, truly talented and gifted people, are often anything but. They work hard for years, sometimes decades, to become a sensation “overnight.”
I remember back when I was in high school, we had the Maine state championship girls basketball team for 4 years in a row. It was largely because one of our basketball players was immensely talented. Watching her play in our crowded, steamy hot high school gym was like watching a professional basketball game. Sure, she had natural love for the sport, but I also remember something that was said about her work ethic. As a young kid, she would practice basketball in her driveway until after dark set in. Hours and hours every day she would shoot baskets from all positions, all angles, all scenarios. No wonder she was the best in the state. She worked hard to make her game look “effortless.”
Now, I am doing the same thing. I spend hours every week painting. I go to my mentor’s studio several days a week to learn new things. I paint, I mess up, and I fix it. I am picking my career.
It’s in the wrong order, but it doesn’t matter. Sometimes doing things backwards is the only choice you have and it turns out, in the end, it’s the right choice after all.