I recall a story told by a former student about how he was the best artist in his middle school classes. When he got to high school he crushed his drawing classes, clearly much better than most of his classmates. He enrolled in college with epic confidence – this was where he was going to get great, start his career and make his money.
He soon discovered in his first-year, first semester courses he was not only not the best artist, he was one of the worst.
The competition had been raised to a much higher level. He wasn’t ready, not at all.
Instead of feeling down, feeling inferior, feeling unworthy, he owned it. He asked students with more talent than him to show him how they do it. He asked his instructors to show him alternate paths to get to his goals. He put his head down and kept drawing, kept drawing, kept drawing…
He left school and went to work for Pixar. Then he helped make a movie or two.
He made it.
Some of us are not meant to be artists. But many of us do have it in our DNA.
College is where you find out who you are and what you’re made of.
The advice I give to students is this: keep asking questions and listen to the words of advice from people who don’t love you.
People who love you will tell you what you want to hear.
People who like you will tell you truths.
If you ever want to vent, you can come in my office anytime and do that. You can complain about how it’s not fair, how you are struggling, how tough this is.
I’ll listen. I’ll understand. Then I’ll tell you what I think you need to hear.
Interesting things happen when our head is clear – we get our confidence back. We feel freer. We know our limitations and we understand our strengths better. It’s okay to be frustrated, it’s normal to get discouraged. We’re human. What determines our character is how we work with these emotions and what we take action with.
The only endgame is the end of our life. Hopefully we have a long way to go before we need to think about that. What’s happening on this journey right now is we’re getting to know ourselves better. We can shift gears. We can change directions.
Don’t stop asking questions. The more you ask, the better prepared you’ll be for what’s next – whatever that is.
It’s not about who you are now. It’s about who you want to be. And you can change it. You can do it.
John Scott is your COM Career Services Manager.