Last year when I was done with the last animation job I had worked, I told everyone with such certainty about the Post Graduate degree in Environmental Science I was embarking on. I was going to get a stable career in something important. I was going to finally be able to live in Perth near my family and old friends. Maybe I'd even be able to finally get a cat. So everyone knew that I was going back to Uni...
And now most people know I'm trying to set up a pet portraits business.
I just never got around to mentioning what changed my mind. And I am also aware that some people this year, still thought I was studying at Uni! Sorry, my bad for neglecting to update at the time.
So this is the story of what happened while I was doing my post grad last year, to anyone who is interested, or to anyone who is questioning what they're doing, or struggling to make a decision about what to do with their lives right now, I hope you can take something thoughtful away as you read this?
Last year, was my last ditch attempt at having a conventional life like my friends (who were now all married, achieved 10years plus on their careers, onto buying house number two or three even! and having their first baby). I forced myelf to focus on a second try at postgrad. As far as I was concerned, this was my last hope!
I have done all types of jobs in between, teaching english in a foreign country, 5am kitchen hand, law office secretary, packing beans, waitressing, I even tried to go back to University previously to restudy a postgrad in Accounting! All with the idea that in return for working in a job that I didn't have to care much about, I would have enough energy, and some constant money, to make something out of my artistic whims.
And what do you think happened as I started the University year?
I struggled. Not just for a few weeks, or the first months while I got into academic mode, but until the end of the semester (half a year). Journal articles were too dry, I didn't get the point of the writer. I didn't have an opinion about anything I read, and I struggled to write the 10 page essays with anything intelligent. I failed a couple of assignments. I couldn't sit still long enough to understand the text. Instead, I found amazing, huge caterpillars in my backyard and drew them. And lectures became a good source to sketch characters. I just wanted to draw and write stories. As I grew more apathetic towards my Postgrad and withdrew out of most of my units, by August I was at loss of what to do. In desperation I went to talk to the University psychologist. I needed to get an objective opinion. I had enough of Tim pushing me to be artistic, and my family telling me to get a steady proffession on the other side.
I was astoundingly lucky that the psychologist I got, was a total maverick. She saved my peace of mind. Amongst many things, I came away with two huge epitoclasmic pieces of advice she had told me:
- I should stop trying to be conventional like my friends, because my old friends are no longer my peers. The people I've met in the film and animation along the way are now my peers. I am unconventional and that's just the way it is.
- What would I regret on my death bed, if I had not done this with my life? And instantly I knew there was only one thing. To tell my stories.
My stories about Cat & Rabbit, the Egg day jelly babies, Elizabeth's trip to Tasmania, Olive's fighting, and Alice's mischieve. They belonged out there in the world, for people to read or see, to put a smile on their face and take a good, subtle message away. I don't know why I didn't realise earlier, but I had to be doing not only what I'm naturally good at doing, or what I want to do, but what I would regret if I never did it. There are many people who don't actually know the answer to that question, so I guess some soul searching is neccessary to be sure of the answer. And then for some people they are blessed to have known the answer all along and gone with it. Children? Marriage? House? Sure I really want all those things...but I wouldn't regret it, if I never got them. I'd just be like "Oh well".
So with that, I have accepted the proffession of struggling artist. I have resigned myself to living at home with my parents while I set up my pet portraits business and dedicate myself to working hard at my art and stories on the side.