BFA Blues

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

I  very recently graduated with my BFA, and I must say, I have some mixed feelings about it. Part of me obviously feels really great to have graduated and to be done. Another, strong, part of me really didn’t want to leave.

Art school is a very nurturing environment. In my case, I had even secured a shared studio space with some friends for my senior year. We had a keurig in there and everything! My professors would visit and give impromptu critiques on what I was doing! I could take a painting straight from class to my studio space for more attention!  It was great. And I even had a life-affirming experience there on Spring break. My solo painting show (that I’ve already posted about!) was happening right after break, so that was truly the cutoff point to finish any paintings. So, I ended up driving down to the studio just about every day of what was supposed to be my vacation like it was my job- coming in in the morning, leaving in the evening. I remember driving there- to my studio, to work on my paintings, and feeling like “this is it. this is the feeling I want to have every day of my life.” And now I’ve moved out and graduated and it feels like all of that is gone. It feels like I spent all this time building something over 4 years and now I have to start all over.

We art students are human. We feel all the time the subtle (and rudely unsubtle) disapproval from others for daring to pursue a creative degree (apparently, to them, universities are just glorified vocational schools.) But in the supportive environment of art school, you get positive affirmation every day from fellow students, mentors, and professors. You have an (albeit insular) place where you belong and are appreciated. Then, you graduate and  it can feel like you’ve been cast out of Eden or something.

Then I snap out of feeling sorry for myself and realize that this uneasiness is pretty natural for recent grads. It’s natural that, after four years of structured schedules and assignments and being surrounded by people literally being paid to help you, being spit out into the world where we have such an abundance of freedom can feel overwhelming. I now have to find my own place in my art community and eke out a career for myself and that means putting myself out there without my professors standing beside me. And that’s scary. But that’s okay. Looking back, every positive change that I’ve gone through started with me feeling at least a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. And that’s what this is: a beginning. I think I and other grads should take comfort in the fact that this uncomfortable feeling, like all things, will eventually pass as we settle into lives of our own creation.

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6 thoughts on “BFA Blues

  1. This really hits home.

    Leaving what I had with my writing community, and realizing I have to carve my niche on my own, is both terrifying and liberating.

    But we got this, Megan! I’m so excited for you! Come back to LA soon.

  2. Blargh. I’m feeling particularly depressed about graduating today. I had seen the title for this in my email notifications (because I stalk you [haha]) and knew I needed to read it. …I do feel a little bit better knowing someone else is semi-depressed too. Hahaha

    1. Yeah it’s weird, because everybody else tells you how happy they are for you and that puts pressure on you to feel happy, so feeling depressed about it can be isolating. But we’ll be fine, Kadence! These are just growing pains. I mean, whenever I’ve asked anyone successful what to do, they just say “keep making work,” which sounds like a BS answer, but I’ve started to realize that that really is the secret, lol.

      1. Exactly! Thank you, Megan. I can’t wait for all these crummy feelings to pass. I think I’m going to try to get back into drawing and painting so I never have a (real) excuse to not be making work from home.

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