To be completely honest with you, I forgot I had this column due today and when my editor emailed me, I had a minor freakout. But please, bear with me — I tend to overcommit myself, and this semester has been particularly bad since I’m desperate to prove my value to everyone again after coming back from abroad.
I spent last night in the studio, downing coffee and trying to work on two films and a paper simultaneously. When I was about to leave, my friend asked me to take a look at his cut again. Reluctantly, I sat down again and watched his roughly assembled movie I had finished producing a mere month ago. It was not quite done yet; there were placeholders for not-yet-shot sequences here and there. The main character was out of focus in a few shots, some moments could be shorter, the music was mediocre, etc. I was so exhausted that I might have come across as cranky, and after I finally finished commenting he asked, anxiously, “How bad is it?”
Someone else asked me the same question earlier in the night, holding up a piece of costume she had made for my upcoming installation. The sheer dress seemed like it was about to disappear in her hands, and her eyes sparkled in the dim light. It had been a long day — I said it wasn’t bad at all. But she was still worried about the thread ends sticking out from places and told me she would’ve done better, but she didn’t have time.
When I first started taking more humanities classes, I had a really hard time letting go of my projects. Unlike a problem set you can just submit and throw out of your head forever, creative assignments demand personal attention. There’s always something to go back and change, always room for improvement. Especially when you’re a growing artist, maybe you, like me, can’t help but look at your past work with many regrets. I made my first film almost three years ago, and to this day I still tell myself that I’ll revise it when I have time. I know exactly what sequence I would modify and where I would fade in which soundtrack, but I never have time.
And I don’t even have enough time for ongoing projects, which is anxiety-inducing. I try to pick and choose, but that becomes hard, too, when everything is so interesting. Can I do each project justice with limited attention? If I sleep less, if I do another cut, if I start drafting early, if I can just film for one more day, maybe, just maybe, it could’ve been much better.
But everyone has just 24 hours a day. There are deadlines I have to meet as a creative, for pay or for grades. In an ideal world I would spend as much time as I could with each project, but it’s also possible that I would never get anything done because nothing could ever be perfect. Some of the flaws in my past work still bother me, but more of them have grown on me. It’s endearing to see an earlier version of yourself through these explorations.
During the excruciatingly long post-breakup months, my incredibly patient ex-boyfriend ensured me again and again that I was “good enough.” At the time, I struggled to understand why being “good enough” still didn’t guarantee me a place in his life, but I was hung up on the wrong thing. We all want to do better, to be better. But sometimes when we can’t, “good enough” is good enough. At least, it’s a nice thing to believe when you are lying in bed trying to sleep for two hours before your alarm goes off again as another existential crisis hits.
I had to whip this column out in way too little time. Treat it as a draft. Maybe I will revise it. But probably not before I get to the other 87 things on my list.
Ruby Que is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. Escape runs alternate Thursdays this semester. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.