Thursday, August 30, 2012

Learning Does NOT Equal Perfection

Sometimes I forget that little tiny detail.  I love learning and for some silly reason often believe after one try (or simply on the first try) I should be perfect at what I do.  What a silly thing to think!

Today one of my professors/mentor shared a story that I loved.  She said that when she was in her grad program she was taking a pattern making class and trying to do something she'd never done before.  She was having a hard time figuring it out and ended up in tears in the hallway.  Her professor came out to talk to her and said, "Where you born knowing how to do it?  That's why you are in school, so you can learn how to do it."

So true.  We weren't born knowing all about venture capital or starting a business or tailoring a coat.  Sure, some have more of a natural inclination than others, but all in all we know so little.  I'm realizing this more and more.  It seems the more I learn, the more I realize how very little I know.

Today I forgot all this for a little while and wanted to be perfect in my classes - especially my entrepreneur class.  I was feeling hugely inadequate for the discussion we were having.  It is so different than the costuming classes I'm used to and I've only taken two other business classes.  Oh and there are MBA's in my class and a good chunk of our grade is based on how much we contribute to the class discussion.  I felt I had very little to offer as an undergrad Costume Design student... I started worrying about being perfect.

Now I can see how silly that is.  Do I go to class to be perfect and mingle with perfect people?  No, I don't think so.  I go to class so I can learn.  So it doesn't matter if I get an A, B or C in that class.  I'm in college to learn, so that is what I shall do.  I won't be perfect at that either, but I can do my best and that is enough.  Luckily, perfection isn't needed to learn.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lessons from Les Mis

On Monday I headed back down to Cedar with my sister and a friend to see a few of the shows again. We saw Merry Wives of Windsor and Les Mis (of course).  Merry Wives was charming as ever, but Les Mis had grown leaps and bounds from when I last saw it at its dress rehearsals.

It was fun to see the costumes I made again (like Fantine's dress below), but I didn't care nearly as much about the costumes as I did the story.

When I was younger I loved Les Mis on a shallow level.  I thought the love triangle between Eponine, Cosette and Marius was so romantic.  Eponine was definitely a favorite romantic hero of mine.  I loved "On My Own."  Don't get me wrong, I still love Eponine and "On My Own," but I've come to love the show for different reasons than just it's great romantic characters.  I love it for it's message of love - not of the romantic kind - but a deep, kind and charitable love that can be extended to all.

I cried through a good chunk of the first act, and then at the end.  The show just hit me like it never had before.  I ached for Fantine and Jean Val Jean's misery, yet the tears were also for the love and forgiveness extended to them.  I love the story with the Bishop, for example.  Jean Val Jean steals silver from the Bishop and when the police bring him back to the Bishop, the Bishop gives him the candlesticks to, saying he is innocent and tells Jean Val Jean that he has "bought his soul for God."  This incident influences Jean Val Jean immensely and inspires him to change his life around and spend his life giving back.  

I was amazed by the Bishop's kindness.  What would I have done if a scraggly looking man just out of jail came to me asking for food?  Perhaps that's not the best modern day example, since there is an issue of safety, but nonetheless, the same principal applies.  I should not close off my heart to others because of their past or their looks.  Even if they wrong me as I try to help them, I need to love and uplift them as this Bishop did.  What if the Bishop condemned Jean Val Jean instead of loving him and giving him the candlesticks?  Would Jean Val Jean have had the desire and the courage to change and leave his sinful life behind him?  I don't know if he would have.  It is love that changes and inspires people, not harsh words and criticism.  That idea keeps reappearing in my life.  I feel its truth, but struggle to actually implement it.  Watching this loving exchange made me want to be better, which perhaps only proves this theory even more.  Even watching loving relationships can inspire better action.

"To love another person is to see the face of God."

Those words, sung by Fantine and Eponine, are some of my favorite in the show.  What brings us nearer to God than loving his beloved children?  And to love them despite their background, social standing, money, marital status, looks, or lack thereof.  We all have a past.  Sure, some have a harder past than others, yet as Presdient Uchtdorf said, "Don't judge me because my sin is different than yours."  It is so true.  We all have unspoken pain and shadows that haunt us.  I hope that I can be more like the Bishop and later Jean Val Jean and love others no matter what.  

Les Mis touched me and made me want to be better.  I'm so grateful I had this chance to go see Les Mis at this wonderful festival.

*Pictures from theUSF website.