I'm gonna tell you a pretty funny story.
When I was a kid, probably in the third or fourth grade, I was pretty good at art. Of course, since I moved every year, there wasn’t much of chance to build a reputation with the teachers.
I can’t remember much, like which school I was in, or what grade I was in. I’m pretty sure I was around seven years old… but I do remember what my art teachers name was. Mrs. Hafton.
I also remember one particular art project we had in class. There were eight different pages displayed on a table. There were coloring pages with different pictures on each page. It wasn’t colored in, it was just a copied picture out of a coloring book, and the project was, we had to redraw it the best we could. There was only one rule; we were not allowed to trace the image.
Of course, at that age, I always wanted to follow rules, so I began drawing the picture I picked out. My picture was of a semi-realistic howling wolf. A pretty complex picture for a kid to recreate, considering most of the students in class picked the flowers and cowboy hats and stars. My picture was detailed.
Drawing away, my doodling neighbor peeked over my shoulder. She was pretty impressed because my hand drawn picture was an exact replica of the coloring book page. Starting to draw a crowd of onlookers, I was feeling pretty confident with myself. This caught the teacher’s attention.
Looking back, this teacher was a complete half-witted bitch who didn’t understand the first thing about art. Now, I’m not some flighty “art is love, and love is life” kind of person. But at the age of seven I had a better concept of art than she did. I didn’t see her approach, so when she plucked the drawing I had from my hands and the coloring sheet, I was pretty startled.
I walked over to her as she laid the hand drawn picture over the coloring sheet. I looked down, and I was surprised to see that the lines matched, like I’d traced it. Without another word, Mrs. Hafton put my drawing in the shredder to be “ungradable.”
I was almost in tears. I asked her why and she replies. “I specifically told you, no tracing. You get a grade dock if you can’t follow directions.”
A couple classmates, who had been watching me draw, popped up in my defence. They’d kindly protested her actions, vouching for my innocence. She listened for a moment, before giving me the look. The “I know you’re bsing me look.”
“Okay, to prove to me that you didn’t just trace that picture, draw it again.”
God I remember hating her overly cocky smile. I took my coloring page back to my desk and sat down. Frustrated that I’d lost so much progress, and angry at the teacher, I look up at the table where the remaining coloring pages were. Getting an idea, I get back up and look over the pictures. There was one of a complex pine tree, one remaining flower, cowboy hat, and a frog on a tree branch. I grabbed all of those coloring book references and sat back down on the table, and set to work. I re-sketched my wolf in immaculate detail, then I set to work on the tree. Once I finished the two harder pictures, I finished the other three in a breeze.
My fingers hurt by the time I was done with the picture, but I felt pretty damn prough. I managed to redraw all of the pictures, crammed onto one page. They all were about ¼th the size of the original image, which proves I didn’t trace them, and I managed to outclass my teacher in the most passive aggressive way. By out talented her.
The moral of this story is, people are petty and they do some pretty shitty things that will bring you down. Just don’t let that get in the way of being “you.” Don’t let other people’s actions define how good you are.