Worse Case Scenario, You Might Learn Something
SPEAKING OF wasting your life doing things because you’re too young, (No, you weren’t. I was. Stay with me now.) I recently hired a young assistant/apprentice to help me do all the time-consuming, super important, and useful tasks every artist should learn but doesn’t want to do.
A significant factor showed her struggling with the expected issues of being a 14-year-old. I strongly believed in her more than she did herself, and I strongly believed that I didn’t want to organize all my awful paper. Who has time for that? Not 14-year-olds, sure, but throw them a few bucks, and they’ll slop something together. And that’s more than I’d do.
We trekked deep into the Grand Teton National Forest in attempts to develop a new style of newsletter images. Chatting about her interests, we brainstormed alternative entertainment over the stupid crap kids do.
“My problem is,” she told me as we shivered in the snow-blown ridge during the first week of October (What is this Fall nonsense you speak of?), “is that I keep changing my mind what I want to do.”
“Skills are transferable,” I told her. “And life is long. So even if you decide for the next ten years to be a photographer and realize it’s not for you, it’s not like you’ll regret knowing how to use a camera and photoshop. Especially in this day and age. It’s possible you’ll spend all that time trying new things, completely missing your calling, and waking up at 24 lost instead of on Forbes’ list, but I’d recommend talking to the adults in your life and see how often that happens by waiting for certainty.”
It’s strangely a huge phobia for some. Wasting time! Changing your mind! Starting too old! How will I ever be able to catch up?
In my experience, most things I’ve achieved didn’t come from a direct path. Some talents I was “naturally good” at really came from other (so-called abandoned) endeavors that I previously pursued.
Yet, I have a B.A. in theatre. I have already been scouring the internet for real-life examples of poses I myself wanted to draw. I already knew a list of positions I had been searching for, and due to the powers of 20 years of being humiliated in front of classmates, I could do them. I made less money my entire “acting career” than two sessions of art modeling.
People were amazed, no more than myself. They laughed at my pouting and cringing, exclaiming praise at their seats. Which surprised me.
The paintings here are from the artists in my portrait class—many older, retired individuals who finally had money and time to do that sort of thing. Usually by doing real jobs their entire lives. One woman approached me afterward, learning I also taught art, and immediately she brought up age, listing out several artists who started at a late age. Maybe to reassure herself? I, too, pulled out some authors who didn’t begin writing until after sixty, and she was impressed I had already thought about this.
I said, “A lot of people tell me that they want to write a book and they’re too old. I ask them, you planning on dying in the next two years?”
Why do we waste so much time being afraid of wasting our time?
I couldn’t have walked in there and posed for those people if I invested everything in being a writer, on being a teacher, on making money, on creating only what I wanted, only what was in my wheelhouse. Being open to new experiences that might not go anywhere is easier the more you do it, predominantly because skills are transferable.
If your biggest fear is changing your mind, you’re doing pretty good.
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