Thursday

Musings on being mature

just because a picture-less post is sad
I am a mature student. I'm knocking on 30 (and no I don't have a thing about it. No really. Well maybe a little bit), which makes me about 10 years older than the majority of the people on my course. I am really lucky that there are 4 other mature students in my class which means that there are people I can turn to when I need to raise my eyebrows about my friends teen antics, or if I need someone who will understand just how expensive white goods are. More seriously they are also the people who have given up jobs, or relationships, or made other sacrifices to take the leap and change their lives by Going Back to School, people who understand. In our first year we treated college like a job. For most of us this was what we had come from, we were used to starting at 9, finishing at 5 and working hard in-between. I would come home from college and do my own crafty projects but very rarely would these form part of my 'work'. Textile crafts had always been my hobby and because I approached college as my job I kept knitting and quilting as my after-school hobby.  Now there are obvious differences between college and work, for a start we want to be here, we pay to be here and there is no boss who is telling us what to do.

And that was where the problems start. I was used to having a boss, a job, responsibilities, tasks. A lot of my role was problem solving and convincing other people that my solutions were better than theirs, and I was good at it. I loved it, (well until I didn't, but for those of you who know me in the real world I have ranted about that enough, and for those of you I don't know bitching about evil bosses you don't know in a place you don't work is just boring) I thought I had a lot of transferable skills for this degree - which in theory I do. But I didn't have a boss. There wasn't anyone who would give me a task to do which I could then exceed at, there were no boundaries. Like all people who have had jobs there have been times where I've had to face the consequences of doing something wrong, or more usually not really understanding what the task was, rushing off doing a whole bunch of work just to have to do it again. I had learnt it is very important to spend time requirements gathering; talking with the 'clients' and figuring out what there really wanted, whether that was what they needed, and how much room there was between the two. At Art College there is no client. I spent a long time slavishly trying to interpret the project briefs, talking with tutors and other classmates trying to figure out the 'requirements' so I could make the right things. Have the right sort of sketchbook. Do the right research. Please my 'boss' (assessors). And it sucked. I felt lost and confused. I didn't want guidance and nurturing, I wanted to be told what to do.

It has taken 14 months and more tears, confusion and frustration than I'd like to recall to realise something.  *I* am the client. The project briefs I get are not requirements in the way that I am used to, my tutors are not going to tell me what to make because that isn't the point. They are here to help me make what I want to make. And I am bloody relieved. It finally fits in my head. All the things I make are part of my 'work', I don't have to have an after-school hobby I should use all the skills and knowledge I have from those hobbies and feed it all into the big melting pot that is me.

So this is my advice to any mature students out there coming to college from the world of work, college isn't work. The tutors are not your boss. They are not going to tell you what to do (no matter how many times or how many different ways you ask), but they are going to support you. They are not going to tell you off if you take a risk* and it doesn't work out, in fact they'll be really proud you took the risk. Stop looking for the loopholes or the things that will catch you out, there aren't any. Focus on all the good things work taught you:

  • sometimes you have to do very boring things, again and again and you know this is just part of life, get on with it
  • be committed, just because you don't have classes all day everyday don't use it as an excuse to not come in. Treat each day like a you would work, come in at a certain time and stay till a set time and while you're there work.
  • manage your time. You will have lots of competing tasks and deadlines, just remember how you used to deal with this at work and apply the same strategies - for me this is lists, google calender reminders and a little smidge of manic fear the week before 
  • don't be jealous that everyone under 20 is still in bed with a hangover you've most probably been there and done that, this is a different time in your life embrace that fact and never drink jugs of £5 cocktails through a straw at Gilbie's. It wont end well.


So that's it. Having spent an hour writing this post I better adhere to my own advice and get on with some work!

*taking risks is my tutors favourite phrase, from what I can figure out it means making things you're not sure about just to see what happens. It also seems to be making fuck ugly things that you then never look at again but at least you recognise why they are ugly

1 comment:

thecraftscluster said...

I love reading your posts, this one was just the best, it made me laugh and its totally true! I tell people all the time that college and real life is all the same thing, its all about you!
Kate

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