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En Route #29

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Stress Test

This week marks the end of the semester and the beginning of Finals. Don’t freak out (yet). A week is still a good bit of time to dot your i’s and cross your t’s, so before you start panicking, read this: You will be okay. You might not feel it right now, but zoom out one or two clicks and everything you’re worried about right now seems a lot smaller in comparison. These past few days have been good in terms of my work output. It turns out if you work on things consistently, they do in fact get done. I’ve been a bit gloomy about the state of my thesis project, but this week I really was able to dig in and have really started to love watching it come together.

There is this myth around homework that it’s something you dread doing. While eagle eye readers will be combing through all 28 previous blog posts to highlight each time I lament my pile of homework, I do maintain that art school homework is more often than not something we care about doing well. The really tough thing about that is when you feel like you’re not doing it well. If I’m not liking what I’ve made, it’s really difficult for me to start working on it each day. Thus, it becomes a frustrating cycle as the only way to make it better is to work on it. Sometimes it really is just a matter of sitting down, blasting your tunes, and pouring some hours into it. When I actually sat down at my desk and got to business instead of gazing mournfully at my screen, I was shocked with how quickly things began to come right. I’d had the bones there, but really needed concentrated effort to make it come alive. Motivation and inspiration really can just strike you at random times, but often it’s the consistent, unglamorous reality of just showing up everyday that gives you the best results.

Speaking of the fruits of labor, I was delighted to receive a message from my printer this week that my book was all done and ready for pick up! It was honestly one of the most nerve wracking moments of this semester as my friend and I accompanied each other to our respective printers to claim our work. We met at my friend’s printer first and turned through every page before declaring how great it turned out. My friend then had to drag me into the metro to get to my printer. I had made a good amount of special requests and tough accommodations from my printer that I was really scared about everything holding together. From needing more than half the book to be printed in tracing paper (papier calque in French printing lingo) to the silver foil decoration I’d coughed up extra euros for, I almost didn’t want to know if anything had gone wrong.

We walked up to the print shop, opened the door. As I had been seemingly rendered mute, my friend graciously told a lady that we were here to pick up an order. She came over holding two books, each with a paper covering over them, and I peeked through my fingers as she unveiled the final product. They looked perfect. I held my breath as we paged through the book, everything was right. They were perfect. I could have cried. This book I’d spent the entire semester creating all the way down to the very last details was now complete, willed into existence. Holding it in my hands was both the biggest relief and the greatest satisfaction. The first of my Final projects to be well and truly done. It definitely makes me look forward to Final critiques a bit more, if only for the fact that I’ll get to show it off properly.

Wrapping up this week, I had another grand finale, this time for my Terra Project. It’s been a really enriching experience to get to perform a research project on this level, much less get to present it to an audience. I was going last, so it gave me plenty of time to negotiate my nerves and flush as many butterflies as I could. I was so grateful to have peers and our project advisor to support us. It also helped that everyone gave really interesting presentations and I could focus on their topics and research instead of endlessly drilling my notes in my head. When it was my turn, I did my best not to freak out and really just tried to convey my ideas in a confident way. I think it’s really important as a presenter to not forget that you’re speaking to an actual audience, and to try to make it engaging for them. I can’t say I’m perfect, but it really helps me feel less self conscious when I’m thinking about how to make this fun for them instead of if the way I’m standing looks weird.

This was the first of a string of presentations I’ll be giving in the next few weeks so I really just tried my best to just stay loose and have fun. I was really grateful to be given this opportunity, and glad I could fit it into my last semester. Next week brings the last week of classes, and after that, only Final critiques stand in between us and graduation. It’s a slightly stressful time for us senior students, but we’re holding it together. It’s a strange mixture of excitement and relief whenever we check something off our big to-do list, and it’s getting smaller and smaller by the day. I hope however your own pile of homework is faring you’re still able to get out and enjoy the sunshine.

Stay strong!

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