This weekend marked the year anniversary of my tumultuous relationship through PGCert. Last year I arrived at my first weekend session full of trepidation, the familiar setting of the RCS eased my fears, as I sat in the Stevenson Hall looking around at the wide eyed group of 25+ year olds shuffling awkwardly in their seats. The first day filled me with the sort of quiet panic I had anticipated from horror stories told around the CPU fire pit. Talks from older academic types did nothing to belay the feeling that I was on the wrong course, in the wrong building and couldn’t i go and bloody paint something now? A gleaming light came in the form of Muireann, a masters student who explained her experience of the first module, how she felt when she was in our position. Finally someone was speaking in terms i could understand. Her presentation used an analogy about standing at the bottom of a mountain staring up in despair. How could you possibly scale such a beast? This really stuck with me and I used it in my first blog post titled “Basecamp” to describe each module as an ever increasing peak, Ben Lomond, Ben Nevis and Everest.
Going in yesterday morning I felt almost exactly the same as i did a year ago. I have begun to feel trapped as the project looms over me unable to move or complete even the simplest of tasks. Yes I had scaled the perilous heights of Critical Artistry and Teaching Artist and barely come away with my life. I had experience, a worn in set of boots and a waterproof bag. But surely this project module is beyond me? Its Everest! Like Everest it has a death zone (probably around January). So for the last month or so I’ve been paralysed with fear. Staring blindly at the mountain, neither moving up or done, just sort of shuffling uncomfortably in a tiny circle.
And what i quickly discovered yesterday was how much isolation i’d been walking in over the last year. I had met walkers on the same trail but i had attempted to do the whole journey by myself. I was reshuffled into a new action learning set with Louisa and Suzanne and our first task was to gather some advice to give to the Med students who were just about to start the project. We started talking about where we were on the doomsday project clock, we were all in the first quarter “Proposal”. I was down beat on my own situation and how my ideas for the project had changed because my original idea seemed too large and cumbersome to achieve. Louisa gave me the best advice, the project doesn’t need to be grand in scale and achieved in the next two months, it can be a small stop on a longer journey. To go back to my Everest analogy, I had been in the wrong place all along, i’m not at basecamp staring up at this gargantuan task. I’m in Kathmandu, and if by the end of this project i can make it to everest base camp then i know i can spend the rest of my time in education trying to reach the peak. It was a revelation! I suddenly felt better, i had formulated a plan quickly and could feel the passion flooding back. A veil had been lifted from my mind. I also realised the importance of working as part of a team. As a scenic artist, we form part of a team with other artists, with carpenters and stage technicians to put on a production. Why have i abandoned that philosophy? I think there is a sense of embarrassment that my work isn’t good enough. I need to shake that off. One of my goals for this module is to continue to use this resource, to not be so isolationist. This weekend has given me a renewed sense of purpose! I have come away with more ideas from one weekend than two months of staring into the abyss. It was so valuable to sit around and share our ideas and get feedback on where to go next.
So i stand on the path, i’m trying to find the route less trodden, with a little help from my friends.