fbpx En Route #23 — PCA

En Route #23


Curiouser and Curiouser

By the time you read this, the spring 2023 Midterm season will have just wrapped. Oh boy, this one was a mixed bag. Unlike last semester where we waded gradually into the deep end until we couldn’t touch the bottom; this semester was more like being dropped into an ocean and pointed in the general direction of the shore. It started, rather deceptively, on a good note. My friend and I ventured to the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (pictured) to gawk at some furry critters and calm our nerves before the week began in earnest. After plopping down 50 watercolor illustrations for Senior Studio and crushing a Project Management presentation, I was feeling quite splendid. RISO was a blast and washed away most of my nerves, but Thesis, the white whale of the semester, still lay ahead. We had moved it a day later so our Department Head could be there to see what we’d done. By the time Wednesday morning rolled around, I had a solid presentation but still wasn’t sure how to explain what I wanted my project to be.

Nevertheless, I bolted through the halls, up the 4 flights of stairs, only to reach our classroom and hear voices inside. Already terrified I was running behind since we had pushed the meeting 10 minutes early (knowing that most everyone who lives in Paris is perpetually 10 minutes late), I practically burst through the door. Half a dozen pairs of eyes turned to look at me. Every single person in the room was a professor. Deciding I was clearly hallucinating, I began a strategic retreat before the Head of Communication Design (also my professor this semester) called me in, saying that they were just wrapping up the departmental meeting and to just hang out for a bit. Completing my transformation into an undiluted puddle of embarrassment, I crawled to the back of the room.

I stood for an unbearably long 5 minutes, feeling very much like a minnow in the shark tank, before my peer strode in. She had a similar moment of terror before spotting me in the back. I waved her over frantically, delighted to no longer be alone. After their meeting ended and ours began, I was plunged back into presentation mode and summoned my courage back. I’d been struggling with my idea for this project the entire semester and my stamina was fading, I was in desperate need of fresh perspectives. Ten minutes later, I got them. What began as a debate over the conceit of my idea, soon produced a glaring truth: I wasn’t that excited about it. I had been so focused on fitting the project around my thesis paper that I’d forgotten the entire purpose of the Senior Thesis project. It’s supposed to be fun. A moment to do what I want to do.

This should probably have been less of a revelation to a 21-year old, but it was a light bulb moment for me. I had taken everyone’s opinions except my own, eager to prove that I could be flexible, rational, and agreeable. But what the French seem to know and what we mortals (read: Americans) must constantly remind ourselves of, is that it is possible to be too agreeable. Of course it’s important to get out of your comfort zone. Just by moving from your home country to this wild, frustrating, sparkling city is proof of our ability to weather discomfort. And yet, when it comes time for the Senior year project, as much as the urge to push ourselves is still very much a part of our decision making, I’ve since learned that what makes you excited is about as good a guiding light as anything.

In learning to be an adult and the gradual process of taking the training wheels of life off, you come to the realization that you don’t always need to be reasonable. As artists we’re expected to be somewhat temperamental but as students it’s in our nature to bend to what others think is best. Now sometimes, especially in those early years, they’re right. But once you arrive at Senior year, I’m beginning to realize it’s okay to be a bit more selfish. After my presentation, I was coaxed into admitting what I would actually be happiest doing and after a few more minutes of discussion, we hit upon something I was thrilled with. It was a revelation well earned and I floated home on a cloud (metro line 4, but almost the same thing really). This is the time to create for no one else but yourself, and I’m going to spend the last half of this semester doing my best to enjoy it. I hope you do the same.

Happy Spring Break!

f t p