Some of you may or may not know that in May, I graduated from a rigorous MFA program. It was, quite honestly, a brutal two years of high expectations, high standards and very high stress. As much as I would like to say that going into graduate school was the right choice for me, it also affected me negatively in many more ways than I thought.
During those two years I developed anxiety. It was a kind of anxiety that I had truly never experienced. I once could very easily shake off these feelings, but while in school, I felt my anxiety grow bigger and bigger; try as I might, I could not shake it off.
I had hoped that by the time I had graduated, these feelings would subside and diminish, and that I could go back to the way I was two years prior. But that was not the case. With the stress of being in an academic setting gone, a very new stressor appeared--how will I apply my MFA?!
Spoiler alert--this story has no real ending, no real conclusion and no real resolve. The two things I know for sure is that--one, Wax & Wane Fiber is my baby, and my passion and two, it is extremely imperative that I practice self-care and take time to heal from what felt like a very traumatic event in my life.
I made a number of goals for myself for this upcoming year to help alleviate my growing anxiety. One of the most important goals is to seriously set aside time for the things I love, I will continue to build our small business and find opportunities where we can flourish. And I also promised myself to take time off from the ever-so-stressful, post-gradschool job hunt. I took me a while to be ok with this second descison. An MFA comes with a lot of expectations that you will graduate and somehow land a miraculous full-time job with full on benefits, people working underneath you, lots of wealth and power and it's also exactly in your field. I went on a number of interviews and during all of them, found myself riddled with doubt. What was I doing here?
I think it is important to be honest with yourself and listen to your body. Mine was telling me all sorts of things. I had to slow down and really listen.
To date I am a happy barista, working in a local coffee shop; I teach art lessons twice a week at local community centers too! It feels wonderful. I get so much out of my position, and I get to leave work and walk down the street to my studio afterwards. I realize, sometimes the best remedy for yourself is to slow-down and simplify. This does not mean to take the easy way out, by no means is my life easier or less chaotic. But I have found a balance, and a wonderful peace of mind that comes with not putting so much pressure on one's self. I have found success in unexpected places. I feel healthy, I am happy, and feel fulfilled.
This post got me thinking-- how do YOU measure success? What sorts of practices create a sense of fulfillment in your own life? I'd love to hear back!
Posted on a Waxing Gibbous