Looking back at my time at university, I realized something.
There is not much difference between the way you get handled at school for your talent and the way classmates and teachers treat you at university, when you are even better at this thing that you study with others that can do the same thing as you.
When I was in 10th grade in Realschule (it’s a german type of secondary/junior high school for ages 10 to 16), people made fun of me for always striving to get an A+ in art class. But… drawing was beside writing the other thing I was and am really good at.
„What are you making such a fuss about? You get an A anyway!“
… the thing is, you are not okay with JUST and A when this one subject is the only one that makes you feel like you are not useless. That you CAN do something that is truly good. That makes up for the fact that you are not doing well in other classes.
You want to get the best mark possible, learn how to achieve it, learn how to get better.
Now, at university… it was the same. You could say we had a handful of brilliant illustrators. Each of us had their strengths. One was a genius at realistic drawings, one was able to perfectly catch the mood they wanted for the drawing to have, one was brilliant at just using a few clear lines to create a perfect caricature, one had the silliest ideas for pixel art and gifs, one was able to create breathtaking drawings of magical creatures, another was a god at knowing how the human body could bend…
We all had our thing we were unbeatable in.
And our teachers always made it clear that marks didn’t matter much. But we always got the feeling that we had to get better to get better marks. And we learned, we drew more, we asked for help, we raged, we cried… but we got better. Sometimes we were even pissed at teachers for giving us a bad mark. And a C was for all of us a really bad mark. But in the end, we learned. We learned so damn much from them that I won’t ever stop being thankful.
But, you will ask, what about the other classmates?
… I know how it was. They made fun about us. Our behavior, how fast we could draw, how ‚inhuman‘ it is to have such skills. How how socially awkward we actually are.They joked about how many of us probably have no social life because we probably just draw so much.
„If I wouldn’t have friends I would just be as good as them.“
„If I would stop going outside, l could probably get better at drawing too.“
That were sentences I heard more than once.
And the thing is… I understand it. Some of us weren’t as good at drawing as others. They felt not welcome because of this. They thought that they were not at the right place.
What I don’t understand is taking all this anger they had for themselves out on others.
Let me tell you something.
We (yes, I am so ignorant and call myself talented for once) have enough to fight with our self doubt. Enough to fight with the goal to get better, to create things that are perfect. I know a few of us did in fact deal with mental illnesses. I am not saying that you should treat us with kid gloves… but I am saying that ALL of us have their luggage to carry.
Most of us have various times offered help. Me, for example, have told them things like-
„I can help you with learning how to draw with copic markers. I can teach you the basics during lunchbreak!“
„You have trouble thinking about how you should draw this thing? Let me tell how I search for ideas, maybe it will help you.“
„Oh, you have problems to figure out how to figure out a pose for your character? Here, I show you how I do it. Maybe then you can figure out how you want to do it in the future.“
… and then they would just say that it’s not important anyway. That they think they wouldn’t understand it anyway.
So here you sit, somehow being gifted with the basic feeling of art and having taught yourself basically ALL you know (with help from your teachers of course)… and they make fun of you and your skills because they aren’t as good… but they don’t even want to learn.
It’s a shame. They hurt us with their remarks. But they are not willing to learn what it takes and means to get this good at our one thing.
I would have loved to teach them the few things I know.
But yeah… just because you go to a place that is all about something you love doing, doesn’t mean you will all be a huge hug-y family.