Before the world knew Dear Sugar was Cheryl Strayed, a 22-year-old advice seeker wrote to her and asked “What would you tell your 22-year-old self as a woman in her 40’s?” Strayed’s answer was as heartbreaking as it was beautiful, and it’s a piece of writing I return to often in my life, a kind of sacred text that fills me with a sense of belonging, and most importantly, helps me sit with myself in times of need.
“Ok Kelly,” you think as you read this blog post, “you titled this blog post “Hasta la Vista Baby” and now you’re writing wistfully about an advice column. What gives?”
Well, this is my last entry as a graduate ambassador for the Master’s of Arts Management Program here at Columbia College Chicago, and I need to treat the occasion with a sense of grandeur. What follows is my answer if you wrote to me and asked, “What would you tell yourself before you entered this program?”
- Start going to more art shows. Now. The MFA visual arts students are your people; you’ll want to work with them and draw from their practice as you build your own arts business practices.
2. When your roommates gives you a pair of three inch platform orange sandals and asks you to go out on one beautiful summer August afternoon to the drag show down the street, don’t wear the platform sandals. Don’t run on gravel. In fact, donate those platforms right away. The instant you slip on that gravel running for that Uber will be 30 seconds of your life that will greatly impact the next six months of your life.
At the very least, go get the x-ray the same day as your fall.
3. Take classes that go to SXSW both years, or figure out a way to attend SXSW both years of the program. And when you go to SXSW, see as much as possible. The price is worth it.
4. Apply to be a graduate ambassador. The time you spend reflecting and documenting your experiences in the program will be important.
5. When Robert Blandford recruits you to take the curatorial practicum, do it—and run with it. Fulfilled Fantasies will be your most meaningful piece of work in your time in the program.
6. Instead of waiting for classes to provide you what you want or to be handed opportunities, hit the ground running to look for what you want. Keep your eyes, heart, and mind open, and absorb every piece of knowledge and information from your faculty. Meet with your faculty often; find mentors and develop relationships.
7. Stop worrying about using your time wisely. The reason you’re in the program is to heal and be healed. Your relationships are the ones that will get you where you want to go—explore and be curious. There are times you will be still, and there are times where you will work intensely. There is value in both.
XO, KELLY BONER