Once I was thrown together with other professionals, I was no longer the only kid in the class who could draw and paint well. I was a cog in a fast moving and complex machine. My father had once been a big fish in a small pond. I was only a small to medium size fish in a small pond. That pond was crowded with egos bumping into each other. I must tread water until I could swim the length of that pond to victory. Still, there were moments when I felt myself sinking and a lot of frantic flapping around seemed to make it worse.
I was improving my art work as well as learning the mechanics of printing. But that was not the greatest thing that was happening. God was not giving me what I wanted until He had given me what I needed. I needed to learn to interact with and negotiate with others as well as producing good work under deadlines and stress. Most important I had to do good work regardless of the conflicting opinions of superiors as to the quality of my work. – More voices!
Speaking of voices, I began to realize that not all the “experts” were experts and that not even the ones who were experts always agreed on what was good art and what was not. This was hard to take but important. I was making friends and enemies – I now see that both worked for me in the larger picture. – This was so because I was learning to reject some voices, embrace others, and take others under advisement.
I had a spastic colon when I went to advertising club meetings and depended on my trusty bottle of paregoric. Still, it did not hold me back from going. I must network and I must look as good as my illustrations. Those cozy afternoons of fantasizing among my stories and paintings on my parents’ porch during school vacation were behind me.
My voice must usurp the authority of all other voices in my head even if it did not yet do so outwardly. I must keep telling myself that I was improving my work and my image and that I would somehow “make it”. I practically worshiped the big names of the 1960’s. Helen Gurly Brown ran Cosmopolitan Magazine, was a best selling novelist with”Sex and the Single Girl”(also made into a major motion picture), was married to David Brown, a big shot Hollywood producer, was stylish and good looking,and seemed to know everybody who was anybody. The message was clear. Now days a girl must make the grade in every way.
My own internal voice was now outshouting all the negative voices I had ever heard. I demanded that it do so! – Was this a victory? No. – I was confusing “making it” with making the most of my own special talents. I was not as gifted as an administrator as I was as an artist and writer. I was trying to climb a ladder that was braced against the wrong building. Why was I doing that? I think partially to show my father and a few others that I was in their league. Ironically, their voices were still undermining me. I belonged in a league of my own.