i should've been an art major (and other regrets)
" a musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. what a man can be he must be."
my first day of college i was an art major, and by the end of the day i'd talked myself out of it. i was sitting in drawing 101 or whatever and suddenly thought, “I CAN’T DRAW. I’VE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE.” i immediately went to the registrar and changed my major to public relations (the actual huge mistake). my mom always said i was a good writer, and i’d thought about being a journalist in high school, so it made sense to me. i told myself i wasn’t talented enough to be an art major, so i just didn’t try. i started down an unfortunate path of “this is what i should be doing, so what i want to do doesn’t matter”.
growing up, my life was steeped in the arts. my mom was a voice major in college and taught music for years, so a deep love and admiration for music is in my blood--i loved learning the intricacies of art's various forms. from first grade to senior year of high school, if i wasn’t in choir or band, i was in art classes. i still think of my 7th grade art teacher, fondly; like all good art teachers, ours was weird and lively and passionate about her craft. that year she taught us about all the greats, and i quickly discovered my love for van gogh and did a crayon rendering of "starry night", as you do. (if i ever find it, i'll show it to you guys) later that semester our class took a field trip to philbrook to see a van gogh exhibit, and "starstruck" is probably the best way to describe how i felt. being in the presence of great art always makes me look around and think, "is...this ok...? how am i allowed to be face to face with a centuries-old masterpiece?" museums are the coolest, y'all.
that same feeling returned earlier this year when i went to the MET. i don't think i've ever been more romanced by a place in all my life. all the things i loved learning in 7th grade art class came flooding back--"pay attention to the patterns of the brushstrokes. look at how they layered paint on the canvas. can you see where the artist placed the light source in the painting?"
it filled me up, completely.
so where's the disconnect? what happened between the starry-eyed 12-year-old art nerd, and the spooked college freshman? for one, i didn't take my art seriously enough. as long as i was doing it as a hobby i was safe, but to put it at the forefront of my life as a career, seemed too risky. (i mean, who was i to major in something i was actually passionate about?) i compared myself to artists in my life like my mom, who took their craft seriously, and drowned my passion in self doubt.
in her book, the crossroads of should and must, (a must-read, friends) elle luna talks about the difference between the life we feel obligated to live, (should) and the life that we were created to live (must):
" 'should' is...how we're supposed to think, what we ought to say, what we should or shouldn't do. while 'must' is different...it's our instincts, our cravings and longings, the things and places and ideas we burn for....'must' is why van gogh painted his entire life without ever receiving public recognition. 'must' is why mozart performed don giovani and coltrane played his new sound, even as the critics called it ugly."
so what do i do now, the art major-less, 29-year-old that i am? there are the simplist things i do to honor my 'must', like physically surronding myself with art in my home, and visiting museums every chance i get. and i'm fortunate enough to have a ton of incredible artists for friends. i love seeing what they're working on, and drawing inspiration from them! i'm also pursuing photography as a hobby, and even though i hate the learning curve, i love it with all my heart. it's a passion i've had since i got my first film camera at 5-years-old, and it's worth the battle with my self doubt. (i'm still getting up the nerve to take a painting class, so if anyone wants to do that with me, hit me up) and one day when i live in new york, i'm gonna splurge on a membership to the MET. i always want to be able to go to the place that filled me up again.
as for other regrets? on a wild night out with friends in texas, i almost kissed a cute guy...but didn't. i still have some time to make up for that one, though.