why i decided to drop out of my art foundation

Let’s have a minute of silence to mourn the fact that initially this blog was intended to document my foundation year.

[Ross Geller voice] anyway

Before September, I had spent months and months and months building up to and looking forward to completing an art foundation. I hated virtually every minute of sixth form – from people I had to see there to lessons I dreaded having and everything in between. I couldn’t wait to see the back of it. After looking at two different colleges to study an art foundation at, I had set my heart on a particular one which I practically fell in love with and knew I just had to study there starting from September this year.

After my first day, I got home and cried. I literally walked into the kitchen, saw my parents, and burst into tears. Obviously at the time I thought that this was probably me being my normal self – melodramatic and ridiculous – after all, I’d LITERALLY been there for one day. (Fast forward: this was evidently foreshadowing the rest of the time I would spend there.)

For the next few weeks I trudged on, telling myself that me not falling in love with the course was probably just due to the fact that it was early days and I’m very much an ‘I hate change’ sort of person. However, it got to the point where I would dread getting up every day to go to college and I would find any and all excuses to not go in. Bear in mind that I’m 18 years old and under no obligation to even be in education any more – I should have been going to study this course because I wanted to; I didn’t have to be there. However, I kept on going, becoming more and more unhappy, but mainly keeping it to myself, feeling guilty for wasting people’s time and guilty for not enjoying something that I should’ve been grateful for and appreciative of.

I should really have given you a bit of background information: the reason I fell in love with the course/college when I went on an open day was because, at the time, it was being run by different people and had its own funding. However, the government (fucking Tories ruining everything as usual) cut their funding and so the course now is being funded by another college, so everything is slightly jumbled and complicated. This means that this year is being done differently than it had been in the past, being run by different people, having a different outline and projects and workshops, and is almost a work-in-progress sort of course rather than one that is totally organised, knows-what’s-happening sort of thing. We had no proper time-table and I find it difficult not having a schedule – it wasn’t so much that it was flexible, it was more uncertain, and I find things like that really difficult to cope with – I need to know what’s happening, when and where I have to be, and I need to know things like this in advance – I like to be organised; I like having some sort of set plan. I’m in no way blaming the staff at my college – I know that having to sort out the funding of the course and the set-up of it is probably no easy feat, but the nature of the course and the lack of organisation was throwing me off and just not working for me at all.

I went into the course having super high expectations, probably because I was so unhappy at sixth form and – being a pessimist through and through -have always been a ‘the grass is always greener’ type person; I think that because I was just waiting and waiting and waiting for A levels to be over, I set my foundation year as a sort of goal to look forward to and therefore set it up in my mind to be this amazing, perfect, brilliant thing that couldn’t possibly ever be anything less than I hoped it would be. This is never a good way to look at anything in life – I’ve learnt that you really need to take things as they come and try not to put things on a pedestal before you’ve even experienced them.

Around this time of year every year without fail my mental health takes a bit of a turn for the worse. By ‘a bit’ I mean a lot. Up until now, I’ve always had to spend this horrible time in places that I hate and doing things that I hate, so I suppose I was sort of used to that and thought that, hey, I’ve been doing it for this long, so I guess I’ll just put up with it. By no means am I saying that this foundation year is a cause of my depression because obviously it’s not, but the unhappiness and stress I’ve built up in my head due to it definitely does not help, and I need to put myself, my mental health and my happiness first – dropping out would ease this at least slightly. Reflecting on this, a week or so ago it just clicked; I don’t need to be here. I’ve told myself I need to be here because many people think an art foundation is a necessary qualification for studying an art degree. I literally thought that nowhere would accept me if I didn’t have one. THIS. IS. NOT. TRUE. I’ve now done my research and realised that a BLOODY lot of people go straight onto art degrees without a foundation year so why the hell should I have to stay here being miserable? I SHOULDN’T.

I am not taking ‘the easy way out’ – on the contrary, actually. I will have to build up a portfolio on my own, apply to universities on my own, have no assistance with personal statements or any of that shit. I’ll have to motivate myself to do things, set myself tasks and deadlines to stick to, and work my bloody arse off. But I am more than capable of doing that. My art and history lessons at A level clashed, meaning I had practically no art lessons, yet I worked extremely hard, did all of my work in my own time, and got an A*. I don’t need to spend this year in college to put together a kick-ass portfolio of excellent work and get interviews at universities – I can do that perfectly well on my tod – in fact, because I was so unhappy at college, I seriously feel as though I would have been unable to create any work I was happy with there, meaning my portfolio would actually have been complete balls. If I take this year out, I can go to life drawing and screen printing and painting classes in my own time and I can draw to my heart’s content at home and not have to stick to bullshit project titles that a college has set for me; I can set myself tasks that will drive me to create work that I’m passionate about rather than be forced to work inside a tiny box that doesn’t allow me to push myself. I didn’t feel challenged at college; I felt limited creatively and I was dangerously close to losing my passion for art because the course was taking all the joy out of it for me.

I shouldn’t have to justify why I’ve decided to drop out, but I wanted to talk about it because I’m sure that a lot of other people are in or have been in similar situations and are unsure of what to do. I should not feel guilty for putting myself first. I should not feel guilty for wanting to get the most out of this year – I will get more done and benefit more from putting together a body of work in my own time and off my own back; I’m one of those people who is self-motivated enough to push myself to do things, but not if they’re things I don’t want to do. I didn’t want to stay at college, but I do want to successfully spend this academic year creating art, learning things, being kind to myself and putting my head and heart before other people or what other people deem to be right.

I’m going to be using this blog to document my… well, I guess it’s a gap year, isn’t it? I’m not going to treat this year lightly; I’m not going to be lying in until 1pm every day and spending all my time on Netflix. I’m going to set myself things to do every day and make sure I’m constantly busy, working on my art and improving my skills. I’m not going to purely rely on any ‘artistic talent’ I may have to get into university – I’m going to work very hard for it.

This blog post was probably extremely nonsensical but honestly I just sent my tutor The Email telling her I’m dropping out and I feel very shaky/nervous/scared but in a good way because I know that this is the right thing to do and although it’s scary it’s scary in a good way. Knowing I have to motivate myself to complete things and do all the stuffz and apply to university is scary and daunting but I can and will do it and I am proud of myself for listening to me for once. I’m proud of myself for putting myself first for the first time in a long time and choosing to do what’s right for me. This doesn’t make me lazy, a failure or a quitter. I hope someone found this somewhat useful or interesting or maybe you’re just a nosy bastard but hey ho. Thanks for reading my inarticulate and jumbled thoughts.

Charlotte

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