Hindsight is a strange thing. Full of “duh” moments for the person in question, yet inconceivably difficult to achieve pre-event.
I stayed in school for 17 years, and 8 of those years were spent doing what I didn’t really want, because it was the “right” thing to do, or “you have the brains for it” or “society needs it” or “You’ll get a stable job”, etc. etc. etc.
6 months into that “stable” 9-5 job (although it is temporary and I’m only getting a couple weeks extension at a time) that was supposed to be the safe thing to do for 40 years until you’ve saved up a decent pension and can retire, and I’m already climbing walls.
I could never truly see myself as a chemist, I did not know what it entailed. Yet I kept working towards that mysterious “safe” goal.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a curious soul, I enjoy learning, and I met some amazing people and had some great internships. Like many lab rats, it was always the lab work and the field work that I enjoyed the most. All the while trying to tell my friends that being a good chemist was a craft too, and that a good or a bad chemist could make or break experiments.
It is true I suppose, but I should have known it was not truly for me.
I spent all these years living someone else’s dream. How silly is that? I have always loved making things with my hands. It is a thing I miss and yearn for whenever life makes crafting, in one form or another, difficult. It can be creating a story or drawing a picture, but most often it involves making something tangible with my hands, such as weaving, or as my newest fancy would have it, ceramics.
Maybe I had a vocational dyslexic moment? It was not a chemist I was supposed to be, but a ceramist.
Now there is a scary, yet exciting thought. Especially since I grew up being told that starting your own business was a hell-of-a-lot of work with little to no reward for the first 5-10 years. I certainly should not become a chef or a baker, because they had such inconvenient working hours. Crafters and skilled workers were looked on as “less” than an academic career (despite no one in my family having ever attended university), and being an artist was not “real work”. Besides, you could always do all those things as a hobby, right? So choose the safe thing, there’s a good girl.
I knew they wanted the best for me, they really wanted me to have a decent, stable income and a safe, predictable life. It is what any parent would want for their child, and predictability is a reasonable thing to hope for.
But I am tired of being a good girl.
It has been two years since I graduated. For the first time in my life, without studies to occupy most of my waking hours, I have had time to sit down quietly, and to think. The “stable” job has not come my way in the current economic climate, and things don’t look to improve any time soon. And even if they did, I get scolded for not wanting to spend my scientific education on anything less than protecting the environment. I get told I should accept working at a “regular” chemical job for a couple of years, you know, to build my experience and CV, just like I was supposed to accept getting a scientific education in the first place and keep my crafting as a hobby. Always a hobby.
When my partner finishes his undergraduate degree next year, he has set his eyes on Stockholm for his master’s.
Stockholm just so happens to have a great University College of arts, crafts and design. They have ceramics and glass, they have textiles, they have crafts!
Of course, I know full well that I am at a disadvantage when compared to people who set their eyes on artisan crafts long ago and worked towards that goal, but I do have some other things instead. A few years extra, time and experience with many different people, love and passion for Viking markets, the environment, and LGBTQA rights, just to mention a few.
The deadline is about 6 months away, and today, I timidly started improving my portfolio with one of the pieces I hope to develop should I be accepted into the program.
That’s not to say, of course, that I cannot work on it on my own as well, although it would take longer to save up for all the materials and equipment/space I would need.
All the while waiting for my partner to read and critique My Friend Lucy so that I might publish it by the end of summer.