Why I Am Writing This: Two Spirit-Crushing Episodes

31 Oct

The first spirit-crushing episode of college:

When I was a freshman in college on the west coast, after half a year of not taking my class too seriously, the teacher sat me down in an evaluation and suggested I leave school.


My professor, Chuck, asked me “What do you want to do?  What are you interested in?”

I didn’t know how to answer, knowing he wanted to hear THE thing I was interested in.

I picked a strong interest from my list of many.  I told him “Music.  I love to make music.”

He sighed, looked at me pitifully and said:

Music is an incredible waste of time.

This coming from a guy who played music himself!

But I think he’s right, maybe on society’s terms, but poorly mistaken about the value of creation.

In society’s terms, making something entirely for yourself is a waste of time, maybe.

However, in terms of evolving, of the spirit, creating something from your Self is the most *incredible* use of your time.

The second Spirit-Crushing Experience in College:

Four years later, I was at the end of my first quarter of my last year of college.  I’d given in to my desire to study studio arts, despite knowing that it wasn’t a good career choice, that an art history degree doesn’t always get you that far.

What was worse is that I’d spent a whole year skipping from genre to genre, constantly trying out new methods with each painting I made, never landing on a “theme” which was what my art teacher wanted.

At the end of over a year of ‘dabbling’ in every style I could manage, my teacher sat me down, visibly disappointed, as if at his wit’s end and said: “You know what, Josh?  I think you’re a dilettante.”

The meaning of the word was unfamiliar to me then, but it hit me and sunk into my heart. I knew what it meant…

It meant I was an art phony.  A person with only a casual interest in the arts.

Either way it didn’t feel good, and I knew it was about my ‘lack of commitment to one thing.’  Then he said “Y’know, I think you’re afraid of failure.”

I couldn’t disagree with him, though.  Back then I didn’t know what a multipotentialite was.

I was surrounded by talented specialists, who followed through on their themes, and was envious of their singular focus on their ‘themes’, their total lack of interest in trying other styles & mediums…

If my teacher only knew how many hours I spent in the library soaking up new art, studying old artists and styles, checking out art books from the library and scanning in the images, as if to create a scrapbook of my many desires and styles.

But it didn’t matter, because I hadn’t stuck to one thing.  I left college feeling like a failure in art.

And yet, ten years after starting college, I haven’t given up creating things yet.  

I’m doing what I have been since I was sixteen.  And, as always, I am in all different media, different genres & styles, everything from podcasts to music to video & animation, from serious to satirical, seemingly none of it fitting together.

And by accepting my multipotentialite existence, embracing it, and figuring out a way to make it all work, I have had total freedom to do what I want without holding myself to any standards.

While multipotentiality is the lens through which I project my work, the theme for me has been this: Everything in life has a process.

What did you learn in college

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