Photo by Tracy Fuentes
An empty piece of paper, or an online word document is one of the scariest things that can be in front of me. The only thing scarier is spiders. I am absolutely terrified of spiders…
A blank page is just teeming with untapped potential. It’s waiting for whoever is tasked with filling it to make a masterpiece. It may just be my hyper-critical mind telling me it has to be perfection, but despite my past accomplishments, I still freeze in the face of emptiness.
I don’t consider myself a writer, or an artist, or even a particularly exceptional scholar. However, in spite of these notions I have about myself, I write… a lot. I make art (only some of it is good). I also make the Dean’s List almost every semester I’m eligible. I say all this not to brag, because god knows how critical I am of myself, but to make a point. Even though I (logically) know that I have done x, y, and z, I still struggle with feeling lesser than my peers.
This past year has been a major push forward in academia for me. I had finally decided to pursue a career that would place me in a museum setting, and my singular goal through my senior year of college was to make myself as competitive as possible. As an art history major, I was used to writing, but now I was focusing on getting published.
I still have a hard time reconciling the part of me that is heading toward my dream career and the part of me that I had resigned myself to be. I had taken three years off of school after I got my associate’s degree. I worked, and worked, and got married, and worked, and got divorced, and worked even more. The whole time I felt like a part of me was missing. I never wanted to drop out of school. I never imagined that would be part of my story.
So, when I finally moved back to Vegas I had a fire lit under my ass. I’m finally going to get my bachelor’s degree. To make up for my time away I had to be even better than before. I was older, wiser, and had learned hard life lessons while I was in Michigan. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean much when starting up classes again.
I hate to admit it, even now, but those three years away had made me rusty. Things that had come naturally to me before began to hurt me mentally. I wasn’t as sharp, and my already short attention span was even shorter. I felt my only option to redeem myself for the years spent away from working towards my future was to push myself even harder.
This is when I initially reached out to the art museum in Las Vegas. My art history major doesn’t offer many options for upper-division courses, so it was recommended to reach out to the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art for an internship. My immediate thought was, sure, I can fetch coffee and make copies of various documents. You know, intern-y stuff. I was always taught that everyone has to start somewhere, and if it’s my dream to work in a museum this would be the most logical first step.
What a fool I was.
Soon after my Zoom interview (as this was during the beginning few months of the pandemic as well as the beginning of my tumultuous relationship with the video conferencing app), I began my internship. It was not at all what I had been imagining. Instead of only performing mundane tasks, I was able to be a part of the action.
I was able to experience a little bit of everything during my internship, and I enjoyed my experience so much I came back for individual studies. Rinse and repeat until eventually I was hired as a student worker. Over the past year, I have been able to add project after project to my CV, and was becoming more and more competitive to the future employers and grad school admissions officers that were conjured up in my imagination.
I went from some scared, young 20-something woman to a scared, young 20-something woman who knew how to use a drill and was a bit more confident talking to professional contacts without shitting myself. Am I where I think I need to be to redeem myself? No. Am I where I need to be to finally give myself a little bit of slack and to stop being so disapproving of myself? It depends on the day.
I have begun to realize that the only thing stopping me from rising to my full potential is myself. I spent so much time being scared and unwilling to fail that I put myself further and further behind in accomplishing my goals. I’m still scared, but I know now that the worst thing that someone could say is no.
Now, I will push forward and write an email introducing myself to the museum director. What do I have to lose? Whether I ask and get told no, or never ask, the end result is the same. I don’t have an internship.
Now, I will ask for a meeting to propose my idea for a social media project I want to start at the said museum. What do I have to lose? What do I have to lose when I reach out to the chief of the student newspaper to ask to become a writer? What do I have to lose when a year or so from now I apply to my dream graduate program?
A blank page still scares me, but now I know that once I say, “Fuck it,” and start to write, or draw, or whatever I decide to do that day, I won’t regret it. I still don’t like failing, but I know now that my failures have led directly to my successes. I don’t consider myself a writer, or an artist, or a particularly exceptional scholar, but one day I might be.