I am naturally kind of an obsessive person. I tend to put too much of myself into everything I do to the point that I have put my own health behind completing tasks to the absolute best of my abilities. And I mean WHATEVER task, not only art-related. I didn't know how to say ¨no¨ and didn't stop working until I was completely spent, always striving for perfection. This is one of the reasons why, about two years ago, I made a commitment to myself to put my own priorities and health first, before anything/anyone else. I know there are a lot of people out there like me.
I also studied Graphic Design in which presentation is a very important part of projects. I remember the first semesters were extremely tough because professors took off points for nearly non-existing pencil/eraser marks, etc. So I learned that, to be a designer, I wasn't only expected to find super creative and highly effective visual solutions to problems, but also that they have to be presented in a professional and organized manner, fully backed up by research and facts. After graduating with a BA in Graphic Design, I worked in agencies and advertising firms for several years. I was surrounded by very talented people that I was able to learn a lot from and I also learned a lot about technology/software. I am extremely thankful for that.
Then came a HUGE shift in my professional life in which, after burning out from working so many extra hours (and not being paid extra for a single one of those hours- Yay Mexico!), I ended up as an Art Teacher at a private school teaching around 250 students each semester. At the beginning, my mind kind of imploded. It is safe to say that neat freaks would not last in this kind of job. Trying to get 25 students at a time to advance their art projects in a period of 48 minutes (clean-up included), while also grading and managing behavior problems, is INSANE. Several times throughout the day, you have another group waiting outside that is expecting to come into a relatively clean and organized classroom and will be working on a project completely different from the group before it (at times I go from 5th to 7th or 8th to 6th, etc.). Those first two years, I taught art to levels Kinder all through to Middle School students with no experience teaching Pre-School and with no assistant at all. Perfectionism, cleanliness and neatness was simply out-of-the-question. There is constant chaos going on and you have to keep calm to make things work. As a teacher in general, I think you have to learn to let go of things. There is so much going on at once, that you have to learn to discern what is most important from what isn't and keep moving forward or you simply will not get through the day. All of this while being patient and always well-mannered. You are an example for your students after all.
After five years on this beautiful roller coaster, I have learned many things at both professional and personal levels. For one, I learned that perfectionism is not as good as I initially thought it was. It is not good because, in life, one of the most important things is to keep moving forward and perfection hinders our progression. Think about it. Life goes by fast and, once we have decided what it is we truly want, we have to use our time wisely in order to get there. Perfectionism comes together with anxiety and fear and, in my opinion, is a complete waste of time. Whether something is perfect or not, it doesn't matter. What matters is that we are learning and improving. Once we understand that and the fact that EVERYONE else is also a work in progress, it becomes easier to put ourselves and our creations out there for the world to see, even if it is scary. I think this is an essential part of being an artist.
I am also extremely thankful for having the opportunity to teach Art because I have learned that I love Art and Illustration perhaps even more than I like Graphic Design. Throughout these years teaching, I have drawn, painted and experimented with different types of media much more than I ever did before. I have discovered my passion for traditional media and working with my hands. I have learned that we, as humans, are imperfect and it would be, therefore, ridiculous to expect constant perfection. Finally, I have learned that we should embrace life as an opportunity to progress towards who we want to be and what we want to create, always remembering (and not being ashamed of) the work we put in to get there.
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