Every now and then there are experiences that I take personally and that stick with me for a very long time and though I have worked on these memories and the associated pain before, I still find this is a moment in my life that I come back to time and again. It's like constantly picking at a scab, letting it heal some more and then having another go. Underneath I imagine all I'm doing is building up scar tissue, but perhaps it is part of the process and any healing I may experience.
I guess you may be wondering what happened and, though I'm loathed to go over it again, perhaps I should. Maybe it gets easier each time I excavate it.
I'm guessing I was around 13 and had done well in art class in the past, so much so that as an A-grade student I was even invited, with my other A-grade art class colleagues, to enter a competition that I never got around to – in the end I know I was more of an academic student than a hands-on practical one – but this just shows the stage I was at with my artistic ability.
On the day we got our final grades for the year our art teacher took great joy in making a big announcement in class that some of us had done very well but that there was a shock in store for someone and that they would receive an EE-grade, meaning they had got the lowest grades possible both for attainment and effort. Having received an AA-grade halfway through the year I thought I would be safe and was innocently wondering who the poor unfortunate was.
With the benefit of hindsight I'm sure you can see what's coming next, but at the time I had no idea. Yes, it turns out that I was that EE student, and I couldn't believe it! Even if my grade for attainment had dropped to an E, surely my teacher couldn't believe I wasn't trying at all and had put no effort in? Well, it looked like he did. I was mortified and didn't know what to do. I guess I discussed it with my friends at the table, and I finally plucked up the courage to go and discuss my grades with the teacher.
I don't remember all that happened but I do recall him laughing, which at that age I couldn't understand and, though I may guess where he was coming from on reflection now, he still had no idea the impact and damage he was causing to me. Anyway, discussing things further he agreed to change my grade to a DD, which was an improvement but not great. I couldn't do anything further than leave my class and wait for the final report to show up and go to my parents.
In the end he revised my grades again – I can't exactly remember what to, DB perhaps, increasing my effort grade accordingly – but the damage had been done and I was mentally marked for the rest of my schooling and beyond. My decision process has been fundamentally influenced by that one instance in my life. I never went on to explore any of my artistic inclinations in any real educational setting and looking back now that is something I do regret.
Yes, I've played and experimented with art and crafts since. I even paid to take a watercolour class as an adult on an evening, but nothing has ever really stuck. The closest I get nowadays to any significant ability is in my photography, but I need to learn more about the technical side of things there.
I know in reality it's not too late to attempt to overcome this experience and perhaps one day I will be able to explore the hands-on visual arts in some more supportive and educational way, but at the moment I know I can't afford it – both the money and the availability of time. I play at these things and never really get very far. I know I need to invest both time and patience in myself if I ever want to really achieve anything, but that scar tissue runs deep and perhaps I'm procrastinating to avoid the pain again, perhaps the excuses are truly real, but one thing I do know is that experience has had a big influence on my life because I let it.
I don't regret any of my other choices in life. I'm pretty good at weighing things up and making sensible decisions, but not having the time in my school life to explore art more is one thing I wish I'd done. Who knows what my life would have been like if things had been different? I never will and I can't do anything about that. What I can do is live in hope and that's one thing I always do. Whatever life throws at you in the end there is always hope and there are always choices – I just have to decide what my choices are...
I usually do.