Anxiety. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt that pang. Well this academic year, I have had to punch my way through that cloud of worry many more times than anticipated. As freeing and creative as this Visual Anthropology Project may appear, it was by no means exempt from dear old anxiety.
Blogging alone became an area in which I displaced so much self-doubt and insecurity. I would have ‘great revelations’ about the content of this space, how this blog could tie together many aspects of my life; personal, studious, activism. Alas, more often than not, this would sum up to word count: 0.
To pass this off solely to the grievance of anxiety would not be true. But, whatever the reason was that I didn’t bring hands to keyboard, anxiety was there, winning.
Call it ironic, or damn reasonable, but one of the themes I had in mind for my film was mental health. Like most families, as it would statistically show, mine has seen its days affected by the charms of mental health issues. Being aware of this in the process of my film, and dealing with it ‘behind the scenes’ made me ever more aware of the anxiety I often feel when approaching a task that I’m not sure I can succeed in. (This film being one of them). However, most of the worries I had about the time-scaling of this film wasn’t dictated by my willingness to come home for a weekend or two to film. It was dictated by a much greater monster; my dissertation.
My dissertation, or rather my Project in Anthropological Science, took precedence over most areas of my life, for three months solid: January- March. At the same time however, it was vital of me to schedule time for the creation of my film. Time management, anxiety management: same difference.
If I were to sit in the library and here a fellow student mutter the syllables; ‘is-er-aaa-tion’, dread would zoom over towards me. God forbid they would then come over and ask “How it was going”. And don’t ask about the word count, for God’s sake don’t ask about the word count. I know that I wasn’t the only one. However, our dissertations were things that we had to master ourselves, we couldn’t share the load; a dissertation cooperative hasn’t quite come into being yet. And yet, in knowledge of this, and in our attempts of solidarity, we couldn’t help but compare where we were at, “how we were doing”, and had we opened up SPSS yet. The answer to which at times, some could just reply no, and then run away crying, to the library exit.
So, when asked the question, “how I was doing”, with my dissertation, I would often reply; “alright, I guess” and feel guilty that I had dared spent an hour walking around campus with a DSLR when there was clearly more pressing matters at hand. Or so many peers seemed to think at least. For a while I tried to separate the two; allow the dissertation be what it was; confusion, madness and for no real reason really. And then my ‘Visual Anthropology’ project be; an outlet, vocational, skill-enhancing. However, the inevitable timing of the two didn’t allow for this beautiful dichotomy of anxiety association. The dissertation blues swiftly seeped to the other side of my brain; and my film too became another laborious 15 credits I had to earn in some way or another. Because… because…
And not knowing the reason why “I must do well”, not knowing the value of these 15 credits in the real world once I graduate, well, least to say, that was the true source of worry.
I have to do this, I have to go there, to make the film, to get the grades, because… because…
Because the answer is in the attempt
-Celine, Before Sunrise
Thanks for saving my ass again, Richard Linklater. Until the next anxiety attack.