Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Letter to My Freshman Self (Or A List of Tips to Surviving Art College/ Any College)

I was going to wait to release this list of tips until after I graduated. But, since I'm busy with final tweaks on my film/ other projects, I thought I'd release it now. I'll probably continue to expand on it as I think more about my past years.

Around the beginning of Senior year, I decided to make a list of tips/ ideas about art college that I wish I had told my past self. I thought it would give me a good chance to reflect on what's happened my past four years at school (both good and bad) and hope that it might help other people in some way or fashion. But mainly this is based on my time and art school, though I think the tips can apply to anyone going to college. So here goes:

"Dear College Freshman Self,

Congratulations! You've made it into your dream school and into your dream major! Now before you say you know everything, let me just say to you that YOU KNOW NOTHING. There are going to be so many things you will learn--here are just a few:

1. People will come and go. Some will leave, whether they graduate, go to a different school, drop out, etc. The friends you have now in freshman year will not be the same people you hang out with your senior year. But, that doesn't mean you'll lose them--with the constant growth of technology, you'll be able to stay in contact with them better than 10 years ago. No longer will you have perpendicular friends (people that only intersect your life once and never again). You'll find a way to see them.

2. Don't brainwash yourself into thinking that your school is the only place for the art you want to do. It is not. In fact, there are plenty of places out there to learn, both online and in real life. You'll be able to follow your dream in any way, shape, or form. And don't fret about the money spent in the past--it's gone. You're never getting that money back. So you might as well save and invest for the future by learning at somewhere that best suits you.

3.You will like/crush on multiple people many times, but fall in love only once. And the worst part is that the universe will conspire against you from being with that person--and it is going to suck so hard. But you'll realize that the love you had will be part of the reason why you're motivated to do what you do. They'll remind you again and again that reason why animation is so hard is because it's what you love doing--it's what you want to do.

4. There are going to be people you meet who you do not like. I'm sorry, but there will be bad influences and things you'll need to stray from (especially those who do heavy drinking/smoking, have inflated egos, or a major inferiority complex). There will also be people you will hate talking to for absolutely no reason except pure, animal instinct. Or maybe it will be because of the way they smell, or their narcissism, or their in general "being-a-total-dick attitude". But, you'll have to deal with them on a daily-basis because they use the same computer lab as you do, or have the same friends as you do, etc. In the end, you'll have your wits about you, realize they're not so bad, and move on.

5.You will pray at least seven times before you leave school, despite being agnostic or unreligious. You will also feel the cold hand of death on your shoulder in the wee, late hours as you're working last minute on a final project. This is art school--this is the norm. But you'll tell the Reaper to hold off--after you finish your film, then he can get you (but even this will be lie, as you'll go all The Seventh Seal on him).

6.You won't be able to please everyone with your art/ideas, and you know you shouldn't. You'll try to do it once, and quickly realize it was the worst thing to do, for both you and your art. But you'll learn quickly, and will get everyone on-board with you and your vision. If they can't get with the dance of your ideas, you'll teach them the moves--otherwise, you'll have to leave them behind. Even if it means dancing by yourself.

7. You are going to make so many connections and learn so many things about the industry. Not only that, but you'll even meet the man who was basically responsible for your childhood. You're going to work creating graphics/images for a show that won't even exist until your sophomore year, and it is going to be awesome! YOU are going to be awesome!

8. There will be a moment your Junior year where you'll feel the world crumbling around you. This is the year of make or break. When you thought you might be great in one thing, you'll actually only be in the infancy stages; when you think you're doing fairly well in animation, you'll have your teacher tell you that you'll never be an animator. In fact, not only will your college life start to corrupt, but family drama will also get in the way of your work. It will feel like an endless cycle of depression and anxiety...but, there will be people who will support you in the end. Your friends, your mentors, your family--they will all be there for you at your lowest point. And you will meet people who will even help you pick yourself up again--they'll teach you things you didn't even know you could learn. Everything will work itself out...and you'll be even stronger than before.

9.Age doesn't matter--there are going to be people in their thirties better than you; there will be people two years below you who will be better than you. But, it's not about age as much as experience. And you'll soon realize that everyone in life plays the long game. Because like Leonardo DaVinci, he didn't just wake up a genius--he failed miserably. But that didn't stop him from sketching--and in the end, it all paid off. Same with you--all the work you'll do will pay off in the end. Just keep at it.

10. You'll have read these two articles and feel like you understand life a little bit better:

11. There will be drama. Sorry 'bout that--it's unescapable.

12. Self-Talk is so important--don't put yourself down when you know there are plenty of other negative factors around you. You know you're not the best artist, and that's okay to know that. But don't remind yourself 24/7 that you suck--because you don't. Go into a challenge with the demeanor that you are the greatest! It's not ego--it's about pumping yourself up. Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you, too (or learn that you're not backing down).

While there are plenty more tips, I believe that these are some really important ones to remember. And trust me--they may not seem as prevalent now, but they will be. Even if it takes four years to learn them.

Best Regards,

Your Current, Graduating Self"