The Art of Involvement #2

The Art of Involvement: The Unfortunate Need to Rest

“Time is a wall we all share” and there are so few doors. I am unsatisfied. I am always unsatisfied.  

I write this with a pounding headache, while eating half of a chocolate chip cookie for dinner. It’s that time of the year: burnout central. Most would call it midterms. I know I am most definitely not alone in my exhaustion this week. Being a student is demanding, not to mention someone who chases passion and community around as much as I do while having to drive 30 minutes there and back, and work, and meet with friends, and… Well, you get the idea. 

Art is wonderful, and art is something that feeds me and drains me all at once. I definitely think it’s something worth the extra effort to support. I am always swept away by how much I love being around people that value art as much as I do, but as much as I loathe to admit it, I can’t experience it all. 

Even now, as I dedicate this small amount of time to expressing myself, I know I could be relaxing. Soaking in the tub or annoying my cat with unwarranted kisses sounds wonderful. I also know that I regret it when I don’t force myself to sit down and write. I find myself too often taking a passive role in my own life, scrolling endlessly through mind-numbing content rather than reflect, engage, and create on my own terms. 

I avoid life because work and school are already quite enough, thank you very much, but then I feel less myself… It’s a dilemma I’ve always struggled with. 

My current solution is attending the events painstakingly put together by the people around me. I overcommit, of course. Not only am I a chronic people pleaser, but being busy tends to make me feel happier until I hit the wall. 

Hello again, wall. 

Part of the wall right now is due to my own spent energy in coordinating other things, such as the literary magazine, Lyceum. My baby. My creative outlet since Freshman year that I have struggle to let go of now that I’ve helped it hobble along for almost 4 whole years. Now we are getting over 50 people each semester to submit their work and its going great! Right before I have to leave. 

Graduation looms, and it’s exciting and terrifying all at once. And there’s another reason: I need to do everything I want to now, before I leave student life behind. A college campus is such a brief, wonderfully compact time and place to connect, explore, and grow. My time here feels like it’s been so brief (and partially it was, due to the shutdown that left me adrift in Zoom purgatory). I found my places and my interests, and it was only through me throwing my all into things and being open. I’d say my frantic attempts to avoid regret might end up rather successful. 

Here I am, tired and setting up for another full day tomorrow,  knowing I am not going to sleep enough tonight–head swimming with plays, drag shows, and open mics and I feel happy. I’m glad for the reminder of my personal limits as well… maybe it will click this time? It usually does, at least for a small stretch. Then I throw my alone time to the wind once more, only to be violently reminded that I am, in fact, an introvert. That I am, in fact, just human. 

For the record, this is not the post I wanted to write for this week, but it is the one that won’t leave me alone until I push it out of my system. And here I am, forcing you to be a witness. Isn’t that the nature of art? Maybe you relate, or roll your eyes, or award me with a brief nose-exhale. Maybe you don’t read this at all, but it’s still here for you.

And hey, my headache feels better.

Of course the sun stretches itself so wide, to touch all that it can
I want to scatter too, selfishly. Afraid to lose touch. 
Do not compel me, put the focusing lens away I will wash 
All in fragile warmth / Sustaining.

italicized entries from my journal, 4/1/23

natalbrecht

Nat Albrecht is a senior Journalism and Screen Studies major at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Having been a guest and leader of many events on campus, her "Art of Involvement" series seeks to highlight some of the people working to build community around art.

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2 Comments on "The Art of Involvement #2"


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Erin
2 months 13 days ago

Where can we see examples of Lyceum? Do they have a website or social media?