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115. How to… creatively express your frustrations.

Today, as with most days, I am going to overshare just a bit… because that’s what I do.

So, the first time I was in college, I studied creative writing, and at one point, I realized that it was not possible to take any more fiction classes. I had taken them all. I had exhausted this particular avenue in my studies. There was just one problem: I still needed to fill a requirement within the scope of my major. So I trudge to my advisor’s office to express my disdain about the unfairness of the system and whine about what I am supposed to do next. Any my advisor, she looks at me all excited like a kid who just got an awesome new toy she wasn’t expecting after her mom left her at the babysitter’s to go to the store, and she sits back in her chair. She crosses her arms over her chest and tilts her head. And then I see it: she’s smirking at me.

Oh no. See, at this point, somewhere in the back of my mind, I have already recognized what she’s going to say. She’s my advisor. We’ve talked a lot. I know her specialties. I know what she’s teaching this coming semester. She’s sitting there, that smirk on her face, and she says, “I am teaching a poetry class next semester. There you go. I’ve solved your problems. I’ll see you in January. You’re welcome.” She goes over to her desk, writes something down on a little piece of paper, and shoos me out of the room.

January comes, and it still hasn’t quite sank in with me yet that I am going to be in a poetry class. Let me explain something about me real quick. If I was in a scenario – let’s say my options were poetry class or death via rubber band gun – I still wouldn’t choose the poetry class. So, our first assignment comes around, and we can do any type of poetry we want. So… I write a sonnet about my disdain for poetry. My advisor is standing in front of the class, holding our assignments in her hand, and she goes:

“This was an interesting exercise. I learned a lot about each of you. Some of you were a bit lazy with this, some of you played it safe… and one of you was a smart-ass.”

Me. I was the smart-ass she was talking about.

Later in the semester, after I’d written a sonnet, composed several amusing limericks and a haiku or two – all about how much I hated poetry – my advisor calls me into her office again. This time, she’s got cocoa ready, and she’s sitting behind her desk, and sitting in front of her is a file with my name on it and all of my assignments for the semester. She’s sitting there, and it’s dead silent in the room for a minute, and I’m picking the nail polish off my thumb waiting for her to say something, and she does. She says:

“Okay, so… not that I don’t appreciate a nice pain in my ass from time to time, but I think you’re missing the point here.” I feign surprise. She sips at her cocoa, and she says: “Your final is coming up. It needs to have some substance to it. I want to see something that means something – something that tells me something about you other than the various ways in which you can manage to incorporate the word fuck into a sentence. Or… I’m going to fail you.”

At this point, my expression is blank, but the little stick-figure that dictates things inside my head is holding up a cardboard sign. It says: Oh. F*ck. I sit up a little straighter in my chair, and I use the four words I promised myself I would never use. Words I had stricken from my vocabulary at six years old, after I was told a kid like me – “with my limitations” – couldn’t do something the other kids were doing. I can’t remember what it was. I just remember it made me so mad to have someone tell me I couldn’t do something that all I wanted to do was prove everyone wrong. I look at my advisor, and I take a deep breath, and the words just fall out.

“I can’t do it.”

She laughs at me. She laughs at me, and she sets her cocoa mug down, and she rolls her chair out from her desk until it’s right next to mine, and looks me right in the eye and says, “That might be the biggest pile of bullshit I’ve ever heard.” She decides she’s going to give me another assignment. She wants me to keep a little journal, and every day, think about something that had a big impact on me – positive or negative – and how it made me feel. She wants me to write it all down. Put it all onto paper and get it out of my system. “And that,” she tells me, “is how I know you can do this. Because you’re going to do this journal, and when it comes time to turn in your final, you’re going to look at it, and you’re going to realize you have a lot to draw from. Now get out of my office before you can protest.”

The end of the semester comes around, and there’s three days of presentations – because of course we have to share with the class, so why not use the week to be a little extra about it? At this point, I don’t have the heart to tell my advisor I still haven’t tackled the assignment. I don’t know what to write about. I don’t know how to say the things I want to say, and the idea of having to present it in front of people makes me want to vomit… Then, at the end of the week before our presentations are to begin, I am sitting in the hallway, and a friend of mine from the dorms walks by. You might remember him from an earlier story – the one who jumped up and started singing in the middle of my dorm tour? He sees me, and he looks relieved. “I dunno where this professor’s office is and I have my composition final on Monday and a Paper due tomorrow and I don’t have time to get lost in the labyrinth; thank god. You basically live in this building right? Help me?”

I sense an opportunity. I ask him if I can steal his keyboard for a couple days (“Hell no. Didn’t you hear me? Comp final? Have your papers melted your brain?”) I pout. “Well,” he says, “it’s not a keyboard, but why not just use the piano in the basement at home and record it?” I… had forgotten that our dorm was equipped with a sound-proof room in the basement. With a piano. I get my friend out of the labyrinth, go home, and spend the weekend as a hermit. I return to class on Monday with a CD and my laptop. I do not stand when my name is called, because I still want to vomit, but I pop the CD in, hand my advisor a written version of my assignment, and excuse myself. My friend brings it back to the dorm after class, and I spend the rest of the week watching other people read their poetry, read their poetry and play the bongos, read their poetry and show off their artwork, their photographs, their inspiration. I’m certain I’ve missed the metaphorical tree. Still want to vomit. I convince myself I’ve failed and will have to take a summer semester class because of poetry. And then I get my written copy back.

And I passed.

And… I learned something. See, I still suck at poetry. The mere thought of it still ties my stomach into knots. But… I remembered how to express myself. I tapped into the things that were on my mind instead of burying them. I expressed myself. See, I hate poetry, but I love music – kinda funny, right? Since it’s essentially poetry with sound? And that’s the thing – expressing yourself is the important part. Find an outlet that allows you to not only create, but share something about yourself. It’s scary as hell, but you will learn so much about yourself. And Second Life? It has plenty of avenues to do that. You don’t always have to be in a stress-induced mania to create and express yourself. Some people do it for fun.

Go out and do the thing. You’ll feel much better. Trust me.

Credits:

[Shape]mine
[Head][LeLUTKA]Nova
[Body][Maitreya]Lara 5.0 (w/ new Petite add-on!)
[Skin][[ session ]]Astrid (tone 2)
[Hair][Magika]Willow
[Lips][Izzie’s]Lipgloss (LeLutka Evo. HD)
[Dress/Bag][UNA @ Anthem Event]Snark Dress
[Collar][HILTED]Tagged Collar (Black and Silver}

[Tune][Janet Devlin – Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol Cover)]

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