I stumbled upon my Woods of Confusion when I was in University. My biggest challenge with it was the fact that everyone I was in school with was all going down the same path in the woods. And as much as I wanted to go down their path with them, I knew in my gut that I wasn’t supposed to. Art school was tough because, at my school, we were trained to focus our portfolios based on a very limited amount of jobs that we would get out of them. Like if you didn’t follow the school’s definition of success, you weren’t considered to be successful. Everyone has the same type of demo reel, and everyone was planning for the same career. Mainly because that’s all that they’ve ever been told they could become with the skills we learned. There was a lot of favoritism as well. If you did exactly what you were instructed to, you’d get more credit than if you didn’t. You were considered more skilled if you followed the same path as everyone else. But I knew deep in my heart that everyone has an organic destiny because I saw myself treading a different path to success.
When I walked down the path that nobody else wanted me to take, it was extremely confusing. I was lost, confused, and very doubtful because I had nobody who understood the path I was taking or who was going down the same route I was. While I was walking in the woods, I didn’t understand where I was going, what timeline I was on, whether I was behind everyone or ahead. It was just very foggy. I didn’t know where the exit of the forest was. There was a ton of dead ends on the path, that I had to keep finding a way around them. All that I could do was trust in where my path was taking me, even though I had no sense of sight or knowing where I was going.
I concluded that because my school’s way to success was guaranteed for everyone who chose to take that path, everyone wanted to go down that path because they wanted success and because it was the safest route to take. But it was never success that I wanted. All I wanted was to do something that I could express myself authentically. Success wasn’t the destination, because it was guaranteed within me. As long as I did what was right for me.
When graduation came along, I saw all of my friends make it out of the forest just as I did. The only difference was that we went through different exits. They were all way down on the far end of the woods and I was on the opposite end by myself. In the end, even though they may have reached their exit first, I found the exit I was meant to take. My path may have taken the longest to overcome, but in the end, that didn’t really matter. What mattered was that I felt extremely happy in the end because I chose to use my skills towards something that was more meaningful to me.