a supposed overachiever

march 21. 2000

After O'Keeffe We took a break for ten minutes during my 2d class yesterday; though it usually ends up lasting 15 minutes. I was walking back from The Starving Artist, a caf‚ on campus, cinnamon bun in hand. I stopped outside the building to talk with the smokers who were lingering there, and I heard one of them, Kara, make a remark to me something along the lines of, "I'm going to make all my pieces now for the sole purpose of being better than yours."

I'm sure she was half kidding. There was an uncomfortable silence. In the crit during the first half of class, I had volunteered to go first. And I had gotten a very positive and enthusiastic critique from Rebecca and the rest of the class. Yes, the piece that supposedly crashed and burned. I also made a great many comments on my concept, what I thought was good and bad about the piece. I don't shy away from talking about my art, and I know some people have a problem with that. I guess she is one of them.

She made a couple more flippant, sarcastic remarks which I don't remember verbatim, but they were along the lines of, "Rebecca really liked your piece", and "we spent so much time on your crit that we're not going to have time to do anyone else's." Although they were said in a joking fashion, I definitely sensed some resentment from her, as if she was trying to paint me as some kind of overachieving snob. I said a few fumbling words, because I wasn't quite sure how to take an attack like this. My friend Bob witnessed this whole exchange, and she kind of looked at me as if she couldn't quite figure out what was going on.

I shrugged the incident off, but as the day went on it started to bother me more and more. Mostly it bothered me because it's not the first time. In regards to my art, things like this have been happening to me for years. People, mostly my peers, make me feel bad about being talented and accomplishing something. I know this practice extends to just about any activity, and has its roots in envy. I know, because I've done the same thing to other people in different situations.

So spent a lot of my life apologizing for being talented and good at what I do, which is pretty fucked up in and of itself and certainly didn't do anything to help my flagging self esteem (which is on the mend now, or so it seems). It would get to the point that I would start saying disparaging things about my work in order to avoid these situations.

Somewhere along the line last semester, I just quit sabotaging myself and started taking pride in what I do. And apparently a lot of people have a problem with this. If my work is better than person x, then that's because I spend a fuckload of time on it and make it the best I possibly can. And I sacrifice a lot for making it the best I can. If people don't want to spend the time it takes, then don't blame it on me.

I refuse to lower my standards in order to make other people comfortable, which is something I did for a long time, in middle school and high school. I would be doing a piece, and I would reach the limits of "good enough for everyone else" and I would stop. It never really entered my mind that I should make some standards of my own. When I finally did establish those standards for myself, my work improved, but it also became a hell of a lot harder for me to produce art that satisfied me.

I didn't mean to get off on a rant here, but it's something I feel very strongly about. If taking pride in my best work is egotistical, then so be it. I am just so sick of the effect other people's standards have on me. If I think something I made sucks, I'll say so. But if I think I made is awesome, I'm not going to hide it and myself in a corner to make the Karas of the world comfortable.