So, just a heads up, this blog post starts off on kind of a downbeat, but don’t worry. It ends happily.
This blog post is about hating to do what you love most, and for me, that’s art conservation. I don’t care what anyone says, one of the most valuable things you can do is preserve your culture’s beauty, history, and legacy for future generations to enjoy.
I left home to study art conservation in Florence back in early September, and I’m starting to come to a few realizations.
At the beginning of this term, I relished everything about art conservation. It didn’t matter how tedious it was. Cleaning with a scalpel? Gimme! Learning about different glues? Yes. Inpainting? Hell yeah! Italian art laws? Sign me up!
But lately, as this term’s coming to an end, that feeling’s just gone. Worse than gone. It soured into a kind of loathing. It’s becoming something like a chore.
These past couple weeks, I’ve felt like a hamster in a wheel. I’m running as fast as I can and going nowhere. These reports will not end. Every time I think I’m close to being done, there’s something I did wrong, some grammatical error, factcheck mistake, or there was a sentence I never completed because I was stumped and meant to go back to it.
I’m just exhausted. Completely burnt out. I had one Final exam today, another one in the morning, a thirty page report of my projects from my archaeological conservation class due soon, ten pages of my thesis also due soon, and a meeting with my professor tomorrow about where my thesis is going.
The last meeting I had with her left me feeling a little terrified (my writing style on what I have so far was garbage, and she was not happy), but somewhat inspired to do better at the same time.
At first, I thought my misery was just the stress of term and having been away from everybody in a foreign country that was killing my love for art conservation (come to think of it, that’s probably a large portion of it), but I’m starting to think it’s more than that. I few days ago, I was on Facebook, and you know that annoying feature it has where it brings you posts that you did X number of years ago?
Just stay with me. This’ll make sense.
Well, that day, it brought up my post that I made when I was about to start my first internship.
Two years ago.
There’s something funny about that time. I remembered one of my sisters wanting to quit ballet after having taken classes for two years. In my sister’s case, she’s now dancing seriously and teaching three classes in one day. I remember my brothers wanting to quit scouts when they were two years in, and one of my brothers completed scouts, and the other one is actively trying to become an Eagle Scout.
Two years ago last Saturday, I have never been in a conservation lab ever, and I was nervous and excited about my first time. I’ve achieved so much since then. I’ve been in the Vatican Museum conservation lab, for crying out loud.
So, with this realization. I think this is just part of learning and growing in any kind of skill, not just ballet, scouts, or conservation, but there are roadblocks. There are points where it seems like it just became difficult out of nowhere, and the spark is just gone.
Here’s the thing, and I want to ask you this. If you’ve been putting so much work into something, and you quit just because it get’s hard, what will you be thinking when you look back fifty years from now? It’s only been two years. It’ll get better.
When I look back on where chasing my dreams got me, the work I’ve done, the art I repaired for my mother and my art history teacher, the work I did for the art museum back home, coming to Florence, looking in the Vatican Museum conservation lab, those are all reasons enough not to give up. Even as I’m writing this, I can already feel the drive coming back.
I may hate it now.
But I’m coming back next term.
I have no choice.
I know if I let myself give up halfway through, I know I will look back on this and regret it.