like a bull in a china shop

kirby stopped by the hotel today. he was my instructor in a nightly, self-guided pottery class i took when i started a second job in college. i wasn’t any good with ceramics, but my apartment is decorated with about  twenty misshapen bowls and plates that serve as a nice reminder of one decision that affected the person i am becoming.

art has always been my passion and my outlet and my dream. during the time i was taking kirby’s class, i was the kind of girl who got tattoos thinking i’d never give in to any other profession other than a successful studio artist. i still giggle sometimes when i look down at my feet, remembering how innocently sold out i used to be on such a big dream.

as i was throwing another lopsided pot one night, kirby mentioned that i should reconsider pursuing my BFA.  ‘reconsider my DREAM?,’ i thought, ‘art is who i am! it’s the basis of how i see the world!’ he chuckled at my dramatic reaction and reassured me that it wasn’t for my lack of talent and determination (though he did make me start over on that ugly pot i was throwing). however, he said because of my natural abilities, there wasn’t anything more art could teach me that wasn’t already inside of me.  he encouraged me to go for a business degree in marketing so i could learn to sell what i was already good at. though i shrugged him off, that moment planted a small seed of doubt that began growing behind the scenes in my mind.

i graduated with my AA in fine arts anyway, and i got ready to transfer to GSW for my BFA in the fall. i never expected the turn of events that summer held: a break up with my first love, the accident, cole’s death, trea’s recovery.  i couldn’t see the forest for the trees. when i went to visit with the art department at GSW, i just didn’t connect with their program. i didn’t want to move to seek other options at other art schools either, because i loved living in albany like i still do and always will.  it would have taken an act of God to get me to move away from my hometown and my family (the same still stands today, in fact).  

my parents saw how discouraged i was about my shattered plans. i was a full year younger than everyone in my graduating class, and they said i had some time to figure things out if i wanted to take it. but i’m an aggressively stubborn little thing, and i was hell-bent on graduating at 21 to beat or keep up with everyone i had grown up with. kirby’s advice came to mind, and i spontaneously decided to switch gears with my education. i went back to darton and GSW, and i finished the rest of my BBA in my scheduled time.

and here i am. i’ve had my first full job since i was newly 22. seeing kirby today,  i remembered the tiny seed he planted that inspired the person i’m growing to be.  i am successful in who i desired to be in college.  i’m no longer simply a dreamy little artist, aimlessly walking around the darton courtyard with a pencil and sketchbook drawing “erin flowers” to permanently needle into my foot. i’m saavy about how business works, i have a good grasp on how to strategize personal and organizational growth, and i can report my success in order to sell myself and my goals. it’s empowering stuff. i got a fat raise yesterday, i got a report today saying i exceeded my sales goals last quarter by 48%, and i still make time to create art these days. seeing progression and results has been a big encouragement for the time i devote to my career.

however, i don’t owe it all to kirby’s advice. i owe it to someone else: my parents.

see, i’m spoiled to death. my parents rarely said ‘no’ to my (reasonable) wants and desires as a kid. but they instilled a value in me early on by teaching me to work diligently in school and work alike. B’s weren’t acceptable  in my house,  because my dad said it wasn’t my best. he knew i could go without studying and skate by with that B. sometimes A’s weren’t even worth a big applause, because 100% was always the goal.

i used to get so frustrated with dad for not patting me on the back for what was acceptable for the rest of my friends’ parents. however, because of his persistence, i can look my boss in the eye without flinching when i don’t get overly-congratulated for exceeding my quarterly goals by 48%. i can nod my head and figure out how to do more, because my dad’s constructive criticism has always driven me to be more even when i think what i’ve done is my best. and in the end, i truly have always found a way to prove my best wrong and perform better.

i mentioned in my first sentence that i took on a second job at one point during college. well, the truth is: i haven’t gone one day without a job since i was 16 years old, and that one day was when i was unexpectedly fired one afternoon from my internship two februarys ago and hired the next evening at the job i have now.  my work history is a fact i’m glad to keep. i used to resent my high school classmates for freeloading gas money from their parents and going to parties while i spent nights and weekends serving tables at applebee’s bar & grill to fund my fun. but in hindsight, this is the bare bones of what led to my success.

i worked at least one, sometimes two, jobs during high school and college while taking around 18 hours worth of classes per semester, and i was still able to stay awake to go see a movie with my friends on weekends. though the routine was hard to juggle, i began to take pride in working hard and maintaining my lifestyle. rather than learning how to strategically take from others to get my way, i learned how to give of myself to earn something valuable in return.  i learned how long it took to make a dollar, and over time each of those dollars became more valuable to me. i took on more monetary responsibility until now my parents no longer pay any of my bills.

it’s an unbelievable gift to not worry–like so many people do at my age–over debt, such as student loans and car payments. i may not be the studio artist i dreamed i’d be for a time, but i’m still an artist with a studio [apartment] and a wonderful job. i’m proud of my work ethic. i’m proud of what i have earned and am earning at my age. i’m proud of my parents, who taught me how to put my “bull-headedness” (as they call my stubborness and determination) to good use in creating a life for myself. i’m proud to be independent. sometimes, it’s gotten lonely and i’ve stumbled personally (as evidenced in other posts)–but ultimately, i’ve become well-rounded and strong-willed enough to bounce back and turn it into good.

mom and dad: thank you for helping me through school when my scholarships ran out. thank you for giving me an awesome car without asking anything in return. thank you for your patience with this bull-in-a-china-shop, ‘brown headed, round-headed girl. ‘ thank you for supporting me with your dedication and your love as i have grown up. i owe most, if not all, of my success to your steadfastness, your guidance and your care for who i am becoming.

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