Every now and then, your life needs a restart. It may feel slow or stagnant, old and reliable or just kind of "blah" or "meh." It's not a bad thing for that to happen but maybe you want more, maybe there is something you have always wanted to try but you have been afraid. Sometimes, you need to take a leap of faith.
I took a leap of faith this spring. My last two kids were waiting to hear from colleges. Maybe it was fear of being an empty nester or excitement for them to be able to experience a new world without mom and dad. They can go do whatever they want to, I don't know and neither do they. Whatever the reason was, I applied to my dream school, Maine College of Art. To my shock and amazement I was accepted. To make it even more exciting, I did not transfer any of my credits from Hood College, the school I graduated from almost 30 years ago. I applied as a freshman, taking all the freshman classes, hoping to earn at least one major in Painting, maybe two, Textiles, and earn a minor in Arts & Entrepreneurship as well. Maybe that's biting off too much, who knows?
I spent the end of last week at Orientation, me, with about seventy-five 17-19 year olds who looked at me as though I had two heads. A few teachers came up to ask me if I was a student or a new member of the faculty. I was given business cards from professors if I needed someone to talk to or meet for lunch, or coffee. As much as I wanted this, I think I was totally unprepared at the same time.
Today was the first day of classes. The night before I went from pure excitement to feeling as though my whole stomach was going to land on the floor for the whole world to see. I had trouble falling asleep. What if no one talked to me? What if I had to sit by myself? What if I was ignored? What if I didn't understand anything? What if....? I finally fell asleep around 2:30 in the morning.
Mondays and Thursdays are my heavy days...three classes and if I thought the teachers were going to go easy on the first day, I got a very rude awakening. First class, 8:30am on the 5th floor, 3D Design. I got there early so I could find a seat near the back. Seven absents and you automatically fail. Yikes! Not that I was planning to skip, other than the first Friday when we take the kids to their respective colleges, but failure is a stiff price to pay. First assignment: create a 12" cardboard free form sculpture due next class...ummm….that's in 3 days....I had to read the instructions at least 4 times to even begin to understand the directions. I now sit in my home studio with two massive pieces of cardboard sheets I have to cut down to 12"x1"x1" strips to make into a 3D square tube to create alternate meanings for a sculpture. Don't get it? Neither do I.
English class was next. I love my teacher. I think this class will be informative. Not only are we going to learn how to write well for research papers, but also learn to write as an artist for grants, residencies, scholarships etc. First assignment: write a simple Artist Statement. As easy as it is now, I know it isn't going to stay that way. The teacher mentioned the Foundation Reviews as our final exams. Have we heard about those? No? Oh, well, those are oral presentations we give in front of 3-4 professors about what we have learned during our semester. Excuse me? Regular exams are bad enough but now you want me to stand and talk about what I have learned?? As I told my Textile Group in the final class, the last 4 days have thrown me COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone. And oh yeah, did I mention I am terrified of teenagers? They laughed and one of them said "Don't worry, we are too."
This whole experience is a massive leap of faith. I have jumped with my eyes tightly closed but found myself completely curious as to what the environment was like as I fell through the sky so I opened them. My inner, tiny voice has been screaming at me, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE????" while my curious voice keeps shushing it and says "Wait. We can DO THIS."
I can do this. I WANT this and if you have something you want, you should go for it as well. We are not getting any younger and no one is going to give us what we want. The path is going to be full of sticks and stones, potholes and mighty hills but there will always be someone there to help us along. Even if it is an 18 yr old young woman who looks like a deer caught in the headlights who has the 2D class but can't find her room. We are both nervous, both early and together we go make sure she knows where she is going.