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The Pit of Despair

Dear Winterites,

If last week brought on a drudging doubt about this program and where I’m at in life, this second week added another level of despair. I knew it was coming. I knew at some point I would feel this way. But anticipation of something painful doesn’t exactly numb the pain when it comes.

I’ll be honest, Monday was a rough day. Mentally, mainly. Our prof was ill, so no in class session. That’s well enough for me as I don’t mind working on my own at my pace with my chosen atmosphere. I had planned on going hard and getting lots done anyway.

That was the plan. But when adventuring, as I’m sure I’ve said before, life likes to aggressively shove a wrench or two in to throw everything off kilter. How you respond and push for a solution in such circumstances is what matters. Sometimes, however, you can try your hardest and still wind up broken. This was one of those sorts of days. I fought and fought through the assignment. I just . . . couldn’t figure it out. I ended up breaking down in tears because of my lack of understanding, curling up in bed under my fuzzy throw blanket, crying for roughly half an hour at my inadequacy, and just floating in a non-sleep/non-awake headache for another hour. I eventually decided I shouldn’t sleep away the remainder of the day because there was still time to be productive and salvage the remaining hours, but I couldn’t find a purpose worth getting up for.

Discouragement. It’s a little soul-sucking pest that sits itself comfortably on your shoulders and is incredibly difficult to dislodge. Foul beast.

(This is just a little sample of the process of creating construction lines. I have my thumbnail in the background, and now I'm using a pencil tool to draw straight lines over top that follow paths back to the vanishing points. This is drawing in perspective.)

I did get up. Worked on some other homework that was more within my control of capability. Even with getting that done, I still wasn’t feeling particularly alive.

(Drawing by hand. That I can do. It may not be perfect, but I could finish it.)

Tuesday again left us on our own as our prof continued to struggle with illness. I chose to go to the classroom anyway, so I’d be able to work on the assignment around other people. The hope was that someone amongst my classmates would be able to assist me. Thankfully, the answer was yes, and I am incredibly grateful. Having that kind of support is invaluable and much appreciated.

The weird thing about today was that it didn’t feel like a Tuesday. I can’t say exactly which other day it felt like it ought to be, but definitely something later in the week. Or perhaps something several weeks into the future. Either way, though I did return to my room after lunch to work alone, I spent the entirety of the day working on these buildings. And that’s not an exaggeration.

(The buildings. Roughed out. But not perfectly. It's never good enough. "Never, never, never, never, never.")

(I hate that this looks kind of cool. All those construction lines, and it's not nearly close to being finished.)

Wednesday. Once again, spent all day on these stupid buildings. Or, as my dad would say:

Dumb, stupid, dumb buildings!

I had so many revisions to work on. Nothing I did during the previous days of labour could quite reach the prof’s standards which were beginning to feel impossible at this point. Literally worked over my tablet on the fixes with tears in my eyes because I just felt so broken down. Maybe that’s embarrassing to admit. Crying because of a prof or an assignment. But this is a documentation of my journey, and at this point on the road, this is how I felt. I won’t downplay or try to cover up those emotions because they were real.

I would later come to learn that I was not the only one.

(As you can tell from the sound of my voice, I'm very excited about this.)

All the while I’m working and crying, I’m telling myself (rather pathetically), “you can do this.” And we’re back to questioning life choices. This is where that feeling of inadequacy I mentioned earlier came into play. Between the half-heartedly shuddered quips of encouragement, my lips uttered words such as, “I knew I was going to feel like this,” and, “ah, there it is. Inadequacy, I’ve been expecting you.” And this next part is an exaggeration for dramatic effect, but it’s no less a perfect description to how I felt.

My spirit lay dying while the will to give up grew stronger and more domineering.

I began thinking up hypothetical alternatives for my life if I wound up failing out of this course because of this assignment. Bleak, I know.

Thursday brought with it a sort of mental break. At least, during the day as we had other classes that had nothing to do with working on the buildings we’d all been losing our minds to. Speaking honestly, it was so good to think about other things and other art. Though my gestures were lacking, and most were incomplete, it still felt freeing. My long study turned out decently considering the mental state of the week.

(As you can see, my gestures on the left are not complete drawings. My lines are looking better, for those who care to know. They're not as rigid as when I started out. Hooray for self-improvement! And for the long study on the right, we were focusing on the scapulae, being the shoulder blades.)

Lots of people skipped our second class, opting to work on their buildings instead. I probably should have, but I really, REALLY didn’t want to sell my soul to that particular devil. I still had to pay though. Maybe not with my whole soul, but it still cost more than any assignment should.

Come evening, I returned to the buildings with the intent of getting them done as they were due before the start of class the next morning. By 9:30 I could already barely keep my eyes open because of how much of my life force this project was sucking away. I sat there squinting at the screen trying to get the lines drawn. I will fully admit that they were getting worse and worse, warping cartoonishly and not lining up with perfect precision like they were supposed to. And, to put things further into perspective, I no longer had the will to care. By 10:30, one building was complete, and I refused to spend a minimum of another 3 hours of what remained of my sanity on this spirit-crusher. Instead, I chose sleep. Give me a slap on the wrist and call me a bad student for choosing my health over an A, but my head was hurting, my hand was hurting, and my spirit was essentially dead.

(Obviously not the fully completed building, but this is what I was dealing with.)

When I woke up Friday morning, absolutely not feeling refreshed, I submitted my assignment incomplete. I’ll take the hit to my marks. My health is more important than some critique on a project I busted my butt for and couldn’t finish in time. I 100% DO NOT regret choosing sleep. And wow, is it ever freeing to be done with those buildings! Good riddance!

A classmate and I determined my buildings to be both condemned and haunted, so they would be bulldozed anyway. Though it would be much more fun to watch Godzilla destroy them.

Since Design was ended and we were back to Animation Drawing classes, our prof went over the requirements for what will be our final project for the semester. She was very understanding and ended the class early so we could all take some time to rest and recuperate because everyone looked and felt drained.

I did work on some other homework, but I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about certain aspects of it and choose to wait for Monday’s class when I can ask my questions to someone in person. It’ll be fine. It’s an assignment I’m looking forward to, so I’m not worried. Yet.

My dragon companion invited me on a mini adventure to one of the nearby malls. I chose to buy myself some holiday chocolates as a treat for surviving (though barely) the last week. We basically just wandered since she only had a short errand to run, taking some time to just enjoy ourselves and not think about anything school related. But, we were both still quite tired, and the poor dear was running on much less sleep than I, and we accidentally took the wrong bus for the trip back. Not the worst thing in the world to happen, but an unexpected extension to our trip. Then, whilst waiting for the bus that would actually take us back to campus, there was a lady at the bus stop who was rather aggressively flatulent. Like, disgustingly so. I was very

grateful that the bus arrived shortly after she started creaking the floorboards so we could get away from that hot mess.

The best part of the adventure came at the end. It rained. And we had to walk in it. Now, some people would think this to be a rather soggily depressing end to the day, but I chose to see it as enjoyable. I like rain. I wish it could have been snow because that would have been beautiful, but rain is good too.

Ended my day with a few menial tasks followed by relaxation. I’m so glad this week is over.

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