Wednesday, July 24

competition and emulation

I had a good and unexpected conversation with a colleague this afternoon that made me think about work ethic and drive. We were talking about my alma mater, and I mentioned some individuals from my graduating class that I have felt in competition with ever since undergrad over a decade ago. At the time, my sense of competition was tinged with jealousy, almost a sibling-like rivalry for professor's attention, and later for career opportunities and recognition. But now I'm seeing this sense of competition as something incredibly healthy and vital for my artistic life. I have to keep working, teaching, exhibiting, BEING an artist, because these other people are DOING it, too. And I am. And it's what has led me to be who I am and doing what I'm doing.
In my first graduate education course at Tyler, my professor asked us to think and write about our former art teachers. Many people had positive memories, but my most memorable art teacher was one who frustrated me (while a great teacher, he'd always draw on my paper, which made me really mad- so I'd erase his drawing and do my own). As an art teacher now, I have a sense of pride and perhaps superiority because unlike him, I do not draw on my students' papers. It's a little silly, but it's something I hold myself to. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that even bad experiences, frustration, rivalry can be as valuable as the caring, attention, and encouragement we receive from others. They can drive us to be better, push us to succeed, and prove ourselves. They keep us on the road to success.

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