just a personal narrative assignment
Around April of last year I had the opportunity and prívilege of having one of my pieces at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). Although it would be a short exhibition lasting around 3 months I remember feeling validated and proud of my accomplishment. Ever since the school year began we were handed a notebook of the artwork that was featured the year before. And I remember telling myself that would be me. That I would find myself in the pages of the next “issue”.
However I began taking this class late. I've had other art classes before but 3D art would be new to me. It required me to incorporate drawings and designing an art piece. But I found it hard at times to visualize it into a tangible version. It didn’t stop be from working hard on everything and enjoying the process of learning with every project.
I talk about hard work and about how much I wanted to accomplish this. From the beginning I set myself to be this determined person. And still I think of myself as a hypocrite (at least during that time). To say I wanted this so badly, but not being able to walk through the doors. I Acknowledge this was a sort of privilege, but still I chose to waste it.
You see, in the days leading up to the awards ceremony I’d been thinking a lot about what it would be like inside. What sort of ambience was waiting for me. This would be a once in a lifetime experience. And certainly an experience I’d want to cherish.
I remember taking the Dart Train downtown. Walking around for an hour and enjoying the atmosphere. Taking in the sight of the buildings. The beautiful scenery that is downtown Dallas. Passing through Deep Ellum and it’s lively streets filled with murals. I felt immersed in art that day, but I also felt more nervous the closer I got to the D.M.A. I couldn’t stop wondering what it would be like to meet others who were in the “art scene”. People of different backgrounds who were interested in the same thing coming together in a way to “celebrate young talent”.
Suddenly this burst of anxiety took over. And anxiety and I don't really get along to begin with. We’d dealt with each other’s stubbornness for a while. I kept pushing her to leave and she’d insist to stay. However, last year anxiety kept winning. And I would try my best to resist the thoughts she’d bring to the table. I think I wasn’t well equipped then.
It was this anxiety that began consuming my anticipation of meeting all of these people. A fear I had been putting off for a while. Ever since I’d been selected it had been there but it wasn’t until that day that I actually embraced it. It was a fear born out of being validated. When a panel of judges came together and decided my art piece was good. Out of all of the students that submitted art, I was one of the selected. I didn’t know I’d feel this way. On the contrary I’d been excited for it since the school year began. And now all I could feel was anxiety.
Looking back, it was all irrational. I had allowed this feeling to stop me from getting any closer to the entrance. If I had to guess I estimate I was 10 feet away from the doors. I was 10 feet from enjoying something I’d created being accepted and appreciated. Instead I pretended like I’d forgotten something. Checked my phone a couple of times not looking at anything specific just debating if I should walk inside.I looked up for a moment and watched a family walk past me. And I was Immediately drawn to them and I watched them in awe.
Sometimes I think one of the reasons I didn’t and wasn’t able to go inside was because I was alone. Now granted some of my classmates and teacher would be there. And my best friend would be meeting me there. But I still felt the void of not sharing this with my family. They’d always been there for me whenever I accomplished something. This would be the first time they couldn’t make it. I understood why and it wouldn’t be fair to hold this against them. But as I saw this family, I could see their happiness. They radiated joy. The parents took pictures of their son in front of the building. I mean, who wouldn’t want to capture this moment in time. The son posing awkwardly as other people passed by him. I overheard them say they were sharing it on social media. They were proud of him. It was beautiful to see this unfold in front of me but at the same time it was sad.
I’d made up my mind that it was best to head home. I turned back to catch the next dart train home. As I walked to the station I kept looking back a couple of times and there was a moment I started walking towards the DMA again. Continued that path for 2 minutes and then finally accepting the fact that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have it in me to fight whatever fear I was feeling. I reassured myself this was okay even if it felt like an opportunity had just ceased to exist.
It’s been more than a year now. And sometimes anxiety tells me I might never accomplish something like that again. In a way it haunts me, because maybe that was the greatest that I’ll ever be. That moment was “THE” moment, and perhaps I'll never peak that high again. I didn’t take advantage of it. What did I miss from that experience? I think I would’ve learned something different, maybe I’d actually consider something in art. Instead walking away taught me a different lesson.
I shouldn’t feel like I failed. I’ve come to understand that this moment isn’t one that defines my success or failure. I’ll experience moments like this again, where fear begins to harbor. However, I will not let it consume me. I will not let it deprive me from experiences like these. The kind of experiences that feel like a once in a lifetime opportunity.
One’s success,validation and failure is all about perspective. While writing this essay I’ve come to the conclusion that although I didn't go inside, walking away taught me something else. I walk a little stronger knowing I won’t allow it to happen again. I have what it takes to tune out the anxiety. I’ll still feel it but I will deal with it better than a year ago. I won’t let any opportunity past me. They won’t be able to cease to exist again.