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Feeling Lost

I think I’ve always been a little lost. Since my youth, my self-confidence has been dismal. I was never the person to join clubs or involve myself in after school activities, all because I didn’t know how to talk to people. Or was too scared to try. During weekdays I had school as an excuse to not be home, but weekends were painful. I wanted to play when I had pages of homework to finish. I hated Sundays, as that day went by too fast before I would have to do the grumpy shuffle to school on Monday mornings.

I never liked school; except for my writing and art classes. In my early grammar school years, English class was called Spelling. It involved spelling new words and learning their definitions every week, and there were weekly tests on both. Gosh, I remember learning how to write in print and cursive in first grade. I don’t believe most students today are taught to write in both styles, are they? My handwriting was so big and blocky then. So unlike how I write now: much smaller, in a right slanted mix of print and cursive.

Spelling turned into Language Arts around second grade. This is when class assignments weren’t only based on learning grammar and sentence structure but reading comprehension in short stories. It also introduced public speaking which I did not have a good transition into. To this day oral presentations are still a big HELL NO for me. Let’s just say if I were tasked with giving a eulogy at a funeral, I would much rather be in the casket than the one giving the speech. Yep, that’s how palpable my fear of public speaking was/is.

I was good with assignments when it was just reading chapters and answering questions from a workbook. In second grade I had a teacher who I really, really liked. She made learning fun so in a sense I came out of my shell by participating in her classes a lot. I didn’t stay that way though. She left during the year for some reason. Beyond that grade, I can’t recall any enthusiasm about raising my hand and feeling proud if the teacher picked me. All those times I got “Lack of participation” on my report cards, not because I wasn’t doing the work but because I didn’t enjoy speaking if I was called on. This continued on throughout my education into junior high and high school.

Art class in primary school was mainly coloring in things or cutting shapes out to make designs. I loved using markers and glitter. At home I had many plastic jewelry bead sets. One of my favorite hobbies was stringing beads together to make bracelets and necklaces. That sort of thing kept me entertained for hours.

Junior high and high school seem like a big blur. Writing was a constant both in and out of school. I journaled a lot in those years, and I flourished in my ability to write lengthy essays. I drew in my spare time. It might sound cheesy but I modeled much of my drawing style from the Sailor Moon anime. The big glamorous eyes and impossible hairstyles.

By chance when I entered junior high school, I was randomly assigned a ceramics class that turned out to be perfect for me. Up until then the only “clay” I ever used was Play-Doh. Working with real, messy clay was amazing. I got to shape it as I wanted for specific projects and then paint it after it was fired in a kiln. The fun didn’t last. In my second year of junior high, my teacher retired from her job and I was reassigned into a regular art class. I didn’t take the change well. I showed up for that class but was so noncompliant that I spent the first few days there sitting at my seat, completely ignoring the art assignment, and doodling mindlessly in my sketchpad.

A faroff memory I haven’t thought of in ages is the fact I once tried out for admission into a high school which had a notable fine arts program. I so wanted to be accepted. At the time I felt like it was my ticket to another, better world. I became friends with two sisters who were students there and I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to enter a new school already knowing people there. The admission process was out of my league, though. I had to bring a portfolio of some of my artwork, and there was a written exam plus having to sketch a real-life model on the spot (who happened to be one of the two sisters, because they were helping to proctor the exam that day). Drawing from still life was not my strong suit. I did okay with objects, but an actual person? Forget it.

In the high school I ended up attending, I resumed ceramics. This time I could choose it as a course I wanted on my schedule for the school year. It was like picking up an old, familiar skill again. The one place I looked forward to during the week, and always the hour in the classroom that went by too quickly. I never got around to learning to use the potter’s wheel. I wish I asked, at least, since I knew the teacher didn’t instruct students on that unless they had a good amount of experience with basic ceramics. I had already taken her classes for two years by then.

Probably the biggest mistake I believe I made in those years was not taking the initiative. I had potential for greater things but I didn’t know where to go with it or what to do with it or who to turn to. I was painfully shy with my ceramics teacher and hardly said a word to her, unless she came to inspect and offer pointers on whatever project I was working on.

There was one day where the class period was spent in the hallway where a table was set up to display ceramics for sale. I was there but panicked after the teacher stated we (the students) had to make up appropriate prices for each item. I lost it when people interested in certain pieces came to the table asking me how much stuff cost and I couldn’t think of anything to blurt out except, “I don’t know.” To save myself anymore social embarrassment, I booked it while no one was looking.

I can recall other similarly mortifying incidents in high school. Such as when I showed up late on the first day of a drawing class. I was overtly anxious because of that, in addition to most of the students being guys. There was one girl who wasn’t registered for the class and had just decided to stay for the period…Which the teacher allowed although he should have kicked her out. Anyway, it’s too humiliating to write in specific details but I had a visible nervous tic. The girl noticed this and verbally made mention of it.

I would say I really lost my creative drive in college. It was difficult to maintain because I had no idea what I was doing in terms of study. I got even more self-conscious of how I spent my off-time, which included constantly being afraid of being judged negatively for my hobbies or interests. I took some still life drawing classes but felt like they were more of an obligation than for personal pursuit.

Once again my social ineptness reared its ugly head. One girl in the class seemed to try to befriend me. After class, she caught the same bus as me and attempted to strike up a conversation. I was so f*cking nervous from the moment she said hi to me that anything she asked me after that, I answered with as little words as possible. I must have given her the impression I didn’t like her because she never spoke to me again.

Another time, the teacher noted I was “mysterious”, to which another student chimed in that I only was because I was so quiet. I was sure no harm was meant by the comment but being called out for being quiet hasn’t ever gone well for me. I just felt more exposed and disliked myself even more after that. I never missed a day of class but didn’t speak unless I had to. Being silent drew unwanted attention, too, despite that I wanted to be unnoticed. An impossible plan. A guy who had complimented me on the first day of class passed by my desk, and without saying anything as he went by, he flipped over a handout I had been reading. I had people purposely doing that to me in high school so I knew what that meant.

And now where am I? Still lost and directionless in life. After the HHA debacle, I have been looking into something else. I almost don’t even want to say what it is, out of fear I will jinx myself. It is art related. As usual, my confidence is floundering and I am not sure I can commit. I can’t be too hasty with a decision, as I don’t want a repeat of the HHA thing where I went into it not fully knowing what the job would entail.

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