I first started having any real interest in animation exactly three years ago.
I was finishing high school and sending out applications to universities. I chose animation as my degree and when people asked me about it I gave them serious reasons why animation is my passion and a great career choice, sounding like it is the most well thought decision ever. But honestly?.. I had no clue.
I was going to art school for better part of my life and I was pretty good at it, but looking back there really was no reason why I chose animation over anything else. At school I was good at everything and I was hard working enough to have top grades to allow me to get into nearly any bachelor’s course I wanted. Oh, and I haven’t done any kind of animation before either.
So why did I decide to study animation? I can’t say for sure, I just kind of picked it. Obviously, I looked through different options, analysed what each one required and consisted of, but, though there are a hundred websites for finding the right degree and university, there is only so much you can learn before actually starting it.
I was exactly like everyone else.
All my friends were graduating too and they sounded equally confided about their decisions. Engineers, biologists, pilots, dancers – you name it. Truth is, none of us really knew what it’s going to be like.
Of course, most of us had an idea of what we want to study for at least a couple years, we picked the subjects to study in the last years of high school accordingly and really examined if the subject is what we want to spend the rest of our lives on. However, not many really understood that the idea that you got while reading about a degree will chance completely after you actually start studying it in university.
Three years have passed and I am about to finish my degree in BA Animation. My friends and former classmates are well into their respective courses as well and when I get one of those rare chances to talk to them in person, our conversation somehow often turns to their careers and university life. Here is a few things that I noticed:
- Not all people who were excited about the subject kept the excitement after starting university. I was quite shocked when I learned that some of my friends, who a couple years ago were ecstatic about starting their chosen degree, ended up completely hating it and even drastically changing subjects or dropping out completely.
- Likewise, some of the people who picked their degree backhandedly seemed to be getting happier with each passing year. Again – not all of them, but it still seemed interesting that someone who was indifferent when picking the degree could eventually start genuinely enjoying and being excited about it.
- Great university not always meant great happiness. Being lucky to have some super smart friends, I found that some of them were miserable even though they seemingly were extremely successful to be studying in some of the most prestigious universities.
Talking about myself, I believe my enjoyment in what I study and what I do everyday grew the further I got into my studies. I am finishing my bachelor’s degree, practicing as much as I can and looking into starting master studies upcoming October. I think I can say that I was one of the lucky ones to genuinely enjoy both the degree and university that I chose.
Asking my friends about it and listening to their stories gave some interesting ideas why sometimes the expectations and reality of university experiences were so drastically different. Of course, each individual story and reasons why it unfolded in particular way is different and I definitely don’t have a right qualification to get into scientific and psychological side of things, but one thing seemed to be very obvious.
Students who were driven by hard work seemed to be more fulfilled by their course than those who were driven by their passion.
I.e. students who were not so much excited about the particular subject or university but took their studies with determination and dedication at the end of the day seemed to be much happier than those who chose a degree that involved topics that they loved but were not as hard working at things that they did not enjoy as much.
I believe reason behind it is painfully simple – the degree is never going to consist only of what you love. There’s going to be boring theory lectures, technical things you’ll have to learn and challenges that will make you step over your ego and “but I don’t wanna’s”. The people who aren’t expecting everything to be exactly what they love and what they imagine it to be just have less trouble getting over this simple truth and therefore can focus more on the enjoyable experiences.
If there is something to learn from this story I think it should be this – no matter how certain you are that you know everything about the course, high chances are you don’t. And you know what? It’s OK.
Do a good deal of research, find something that suits you and keep your mind open. Every course requires dedication and hard work and more often than not you will find out that the enjoyment of your student life or the real quality of your education won’t come from your tutors or university – it comes from your efforts.