I'm a big lover of personality testing. I'm not a fan of allowing the test results rule your life, but I do think that the more pseudo-scientifically based ones can definitely help us discover more about who we are as individuals and how we operate in the world around us. One of the more broadly utilized personality tests is the Meyers-Briggs (If anyone cares or is interested, I'm an INFP, which you can read about in several places on the web, or in any number of books). There are many different versions of the M-B test (there have been shortened versions created, and free versions created), but I really do believe it provides insight into our own self. I also believe that self-awareness is always invaluable, so who wouldn't want to find out more?
One of the things I have long known about myself is that I am incredibly indecisive. It's not that I can't make a decision, but rather that I prefer to leave my options open. I don't believe in closing doors so that a window can open, I'd rather have all the doors, windows and possible entrances or exits wide open and deal with whatever small drafts or major storms come my way.
That said, I recently made the decision to give up the pursuit of my BFA in painting, and instead pursue a BA in Behavioral Science. It sounds like a strange switch (because it is), but I had several reasons for this decision. One of the biggest reasons was my fear of not being employable after spending so much time and money pursuing a fine arts degree. This is a very, very real concern, as it is relatively well-known that there is a reason we are called "starving artists." Another reason for my departure from the degree is the attitude amongst fine art students. As a whole, they are quite full of themselves, and I find myself often wondering how I wound up in such a complete travesty. I don't believe being an art student or artist is about how grand you can make yourself feel, and I also don't believe it's about making others feel badly about themselves, yet this seems to be a common, and sadly, encouraged behavior. I couldn't help but ask myself what I was doing punishing myself in such an environment.
I started having really horrible anxiety dreams about the time school let out for summer, and I couldn't figure out why. I knew I would be out of the school system for about twelve weeks, so it shouldn't have been stressful by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately, I think the above thoughts were silently running through my subconscious. I came to the realization that I have two distinct sides to me when it comes to working. One side of me hates routine, loves when things are just thrown at me and I have to figure them out, enjoys using creativity to come up with solutions, doesn't want to be on a schedule, wants to be alone to 'do my thing,' and prefers utter chaos around every corner. However, the other side of me is extremely analytical, wants to help others in some way, needs a certain amount of order to keep from going insane, and wants to just do whatever needs to be done. The trouble I have found is learning how to balance these two sides so that one doesn't become over powered by the other.
This 'balance' I've been seeking brought me to the Behavioral Science degree. It's basically a nice, generic, liberal arts degree that I can use to focus on Sociology, History, Psychology, or Anthropology, and not get sick of any one piece of the puzzle. The problem I have faced since this decision was made (and my schedule for the fall was changed to reflect the new goal), is that I feel a piece of me giving up on the art side of things. While I know that a degree in art will not an artist make, I still hold on to the belief that there is more for me to learn, and that the "good" teachers are still to be found in this department. So, I am now seriously toying with the idea of pursuing both degrees simultaneously.
Here are the benefits I see to doing so:
1) I completed my general education studies many years ago when I started college right out of high school. The disadvantage to this seemingly overachiever act is that then one becomes a fine art student who has no outlet other than art to focus on. The entire world becomes wrapped up in the hideousness that is the art department, as well as its insanely boastful, self-absorbed, narcissistic students (again, this is the greater whole and not every student). If I were to pursue both degrees, I would be able to have a balancing act of sorts to provide me an outlet from the creative side, and also an outlet from the "study" side of things, thus making me a more balanced (at least in theory) person.
2) I don't want to give up on a dream. Sure, dreams change for me and actually are quite fluid as a rule, but I was truly excited about the idea of having a fine arts degree. Honestly, even if I was never able to professionally survive as an artist, I love the fact that I made a decision as a non-traditional (college code for 'old') student to pursue something that seems frivolous and meaningless to many adults. It's that child part of me that I don't want to give up on. Is it silly? Yes. Do I care? Not really. People can say that only a fool would pursue such a thing, but it really doesn't bother me in the least.
3) As Kermit the Frog said, "Time's fun when you're having flies." While I am not anxious to
extend my time in school, I think that having a well-rounded education could leave many doors (and windows, basements, attics, etc) open for me, and perhaps even allow me to create my own position at some future point in time. One of my strong suits is coming up with alternative answers to seemingly single-answer questions, so why not allow myself to pursue more than one thing at the same time, so as to not hate what I'm doing. I find that I do better when there is more on my plate, and more importantly, when there is variety on my plate, thus allowing me to swing back and forth from the analytical to the creative side. Plus, I can always opt out of the art degree at a later time, if I feel it is becoming more of a hurdle than a ladder.
Perhaps I am just fantasizing about something that is not the greatest solution, but then again, maybe there is some goodness to be had from the thoughts flowing through my mind. I just don't want to look back and regret decisions that I made at some point later down the yellow brick road. If nothing else, I do think it's food for thought.