Monday, 17 May 2010

The strained thoughts of a student

In a few months, I shall be graduating from Rose Bruford, with a degree in Stage Management. I would like to get a First, but my more realistic expectation is that I, along with a lot of other students will get a 2:1. But my grades are not the point of raising this milestone in my education. In the last three years, I have learned an awful lot – and most of it has nothing to do with my degree. I am able to write this because now, I hope, not long before the end of my trip through the education system of this country, have I finally truly started to be educated. Now is the point when I am able to say that I have some self-awareness, and sense of my place and my abilities. These are the things that at 14 I wanted to have, at 16 thought I was acquiring, at 18 believed that I had mastered and at 20 realised that I still barely understood. I am still no-where near being a finished project.

It is easy to say that college teaches you things that are not learned in the classroom. This is something that I did not entirely believe until the last 18 months. During this time I have been called unhelpful, lazy, workshy, arrogant, rude and condescending. On the other hand I have been described as dedicated, confident, a natural leader by example, a perfectionist, and have also been told that I care more about the people and projects I come into contact with than any other person. Part of me is happy to have received comments on both ends of the spectrum. Part of me is proud to have been able to impress at least a few people. Mostly, however, I believe that I am lost. Over the last few years, on every project I have worked on in college I have received marks of 70 or higher for the practical work. Only one of those grades was above 85. Quite a few people thought I was mental to be displeased with myself to only have reached this mark once in my college career. What does that say about the warped way my brain works

I want to be the best. Six very simple syllables. These are the six syllables which; when I approach them inspire me more than any other in the English language. They are a source of pride, of purpose, and of immense pain. Many people enjoy being good at what they do, enjoy knowing that they have done a job well. I wish that this were the case with me. I have discovered that, over the last few years I have been setting my targets higher. My main regret is that I did not do this many years ago. When I was younger, in a conversation with one of my teachers I managed to produce from the more than sizable part of my brain that controls ego this brilliant comment: “I know I can do it, you know I can do it. Why do I need to show you I can do it.” Honestly, this is one of the moments when I wish I had the ability to go back and give the younger version of me a thorough slap on the head. While it may sound clever, precocious, self important and certainly arrogant, that is the way that I thought. It is the way that I thought all the way until I received my A Level results in the summer of 2007. While they were the results that I needed in order to get into college, they were not the results that I was capable of producing, and what made it worse was that every single person who knew what results I got could tell me exactly that – and reneging on ones own potential is one of the worst things that someone can do for themselves, especially when others have given up so much to provide great opportunities. I wish that I could take some sense of self worth and pride back to 2007 and make the most of the chance that I had to do something impressive.

My drive to make myself better that everyone else is not fuelled by arrogance. It certainly contains an unhealthy dose of narcissism, but I believe that in reality it stems from the fact that I want to be a whole lot better than the arrogant youth who left Oakham in 2007. I do not have the knowledge of others, the personality of others, and I certainly do not have the talent of others. I have chosen for myself a path, which others are travelling down, and many of them are infinitely more suited to face the twist and turns of this road. I am not striving to be better than everyone else just to show that I can be. I am striving to be better than everyone else because I know that I am not, and at least if I fail to produce greater work than others, at least my attempts will have given me parity. The irony is that this parity is seen by many others as acceptable, and yet when I strive to be better than equal, it is my ambition that is questioned, not their acquiescence. This is a real problem, one that must be properly explored, but will take more work, and greater minds, than this.

Now for the part that really terrifies me. Where am I going now? Part of me wishes that I would be able to apply my new way of thinking to a more academic degree. I wish it was possible for me to apply to study English, History or politics – to do the degree that I was expected to be taking before placing myself in a more dramatic arc of life. This desire to study other subjects is not a rejection of the arts world, and not a scared student running from the responsibilities of adult life. On the contrary, I want to be able to expand my knowledge base because I want to be someone to take on the challenges facing the Arts world. I love being a stage manager, I am passionate about what I do, but I also wish to take a more active role in the administration of the arts, of theatre, live performance and events, so that others can feel the same enjoyment, the same thrill, the same joy that I do every time I step into a theatre.

Thank you for reading.

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