I would like to think that by the time each of us reaches a certain age, we have a pretty good idea of what kind of person we'd like to be. However, I feel like the challenges of every day life and every day people forces us to compromise many personal goals we set for ourselves.
Even at the age of 22, I feel that I am still developing the kind of person I am and still deciding what kind of person I'd like to become. Coming from a small town like Ashland and then going to Bowling Green, Ohio seemed like a bit of a change at the time, but they're both just small college towns. Now that I'm living in Glasgow, so many things are different about every day life and yet there are so many similarities.
In high school, I thought I might like to become a person who does the right thing, builds and keeps strong relationships, and tries to be as nice as possible to everyone.
However, after going to college at BGSU, I learned that I no longer could keep the strong relationships I built with people. It was extremely challenging to accept that. Doing the right thing became hard to do too, not because it was a matter of choosing right or wrong, but that doing the right thing wasn't always clear and didn't always mean everyone gets what they want. Things got complicated. I also had to accept that teachers didn't make the best decisions all of the time. One of the most disappointing things for me in my undergrad was realizing how a few of my high school teachers I really respected at the time weren't what I would consider to be good teachers now. I honestly believed for such a long time that just be a teacher said it, it must be true. Teachers I had at BGSU were disappointing but I always tried to maintain good relationships with each of them.
After all of this, I tried to become a person who really tried to see both sides to a situation, have a friendly disposition even in uncomfortable situations, and keep my opinions to myself.
Now that I'm in grad school in Scotland's largest city, I can say with full confidence that each one of those things has become extremely challenging to implement. I look back at undergrad and see that I did a lot of self blaming, and I find that so disappointing about myself. If I see something wrong or if something wrong happens to me, I can't just keep it to myself anymore. I have to speak up about it which means sharing my opinions. I can't always understand both sides of a situation because I honestly don't always see both sides of the situation. I've realized that not everything is explainable. I found that having a friendly disposition in uncomfortable situations has made me vulnerable to the stranger strangers in Glasgow and resulted in several almost dangerous run ins with people here.
To remedy this, I've tried to become more openly opinionated, which you can witness on my twitter account. I'd like to become a person who is less self-conscious about my music and movie interests. I like K-pop and I like Star Wars Phantom Menace! It doesn't mean I have bad taste, I just like those things. I think one of the things I love about the people I've met in Glasgow is that so many of them have strong opinions and all it does is show how passionate they are about the things that bring them happiness.
Some of the people I respect the most are those who have challenged me the most. I like that I'm being held accountable for my opinions and while I sometimes feel shaky giving my opinions, it gives me more confidence in myself once it's said. Other people I respect are those who take a stand for what they believe in. I have this friend who stood up for the integrity of a piece she was performing, and I won't ever forget the atmosphere she created when she did. I loved that. I want to be more like that. I have another friend who basically trolls the internet and is never afraid to give his opinion on anything. I love how care-free he is and I feel like that kind of attitude is something I need in my own life. I admire that kind of confidence because I could never see myself having it.
I think the type of person I'd like to become now is someone who is passionate in my craft. I've always been critical on myself and perhaps it's turned into a destructive insecurity that hinders my potential quite a bit and it shouldn't. I control my own insecurity, so it annoys me that I am the reason I'm not reaching my full potential. The truth is that I care about what others think, but that's not a bad thing or wrong. An artist I met once said that artists aren't creating things to please people. However, I disagree with that because one of my favorite questions from my favorite high school teacher is to always ask yourself, "Who is the audience?" I think in order for me to make the most impact as an artist or teacher, I need to know who my audience is so I can figure out the most effective way of communicating my ideas to them. "Pleasing" the audience isn't always on the agenda, but I think it's definitely important to take them into consideration. I see her point though, and I respect her doing her own thing. I think David Shrigley is a bit like that. He just sort of does what he wants and gets paid lots of money for it. A different mindset of a different artist.
I'd like to think that theses are things that I can achieve by the end of my time in grad school but based on what I've learned so far, a new set of challenges will present itself in due time. If anything, I've learned that there is no bad quality or habit about anyone. It's all about finding a good balance suitable for the situations I'm in and ultimately, how I'm feeling. I'm an adult now and I can do whatever I want, really. I suppose in the mean time though, I'll do what I always try to do and do what I think is best. I seem to learn the most that way anyway.