As I wrote about previously, I’ve had the fortune of taking part in a little writing workshop, which is ended this week. I’ve come away with a lot of thoughts and feelings, but I want to focus on one for now: the different mindsets with which I approached writing (art) versus how I approached school (academics).
I haven’t been able to take a solely creative writing class yet (though I will be my upcoming, first semester of college) because it was not offered at my high school. As such, this was really my first experience, even if it was a condensed workshop and not for credit. But that was really all for the better.
School and I have a complicated history. I love learning and for the most part, I loved school. I would insist on doing workbooks over the summer in early elementary school, just for fun. But there was also another reason I liked it: I was good at it. Teachers liked me. Everyone said I was smart. It was something to hold on to. But as the years went on, because of this narrative I imagined around myself that I figured others saw, I was afraid of taking risks and making mistakes. I got more and more anxious and upset, my standards for myself rose even higher (I think I only had one or two semester grades that were below 95%…), and I forgot how to enjoy myself. I wanted to know I was doing everything “correctly,” even if that meant typo-checking and adding finishing touches for hours, and ultimately I was much more concerned with the grade than the learning experience. (This is tied to a longstanding battle with perfectionism, as well as OCD which got worse as I neared the end of high school.)
At this point, I’m looking forward to college academics with my same high standards, hoping the greater amount of free time and general atmosphere will allow me to loosen up, especially as I’ll be starting fresh and my friends will be rarely taking the same classes as me. It was with that mindset I went into this writing workshop. I knew some of the others there, and I was nervous about reading aloud and comparing myself to others like I always do. But, surprisingly, I didn’t. Everyone had their own very different projects and interests, and I was actually pleased . The atmosphere wasn’t one of work, but one of artistic inspiration. And I loved it.
I always thought of myself as more of an academic, or at least more of a learner or even communicator, than an artist. But I might be reconsidering that.