End of Gap Year: What’s Next?

I’ll be starting a new adventure soon and hopefully I’ll have more time to write.

Advertisements

This time last year, I was going through one of the biggest transitions of my young adult life. I had completed my undergraduate studies and begun to define womanhood for myself. I made a terrifying, yet beautiful decision to take a Gap Year. Here’s what I learned from that experience.

Long story short, I graduated without a plan, but had great options. I deferred my enrollment at the University of Arkansas, in order to gain more focus in my life. My undergrad career was draining physically, mentally, emotionally, and academically. So during my Gap Year I completed internships in event planning and studio art, served through AmeriCorps to develop Social Emotional Learning or soft skills in young students, traveled aboard, attended conferences and trainings, while having a lot of fun (some might say too much)!

During this time, I learned that I am someone who has high expectations for excellence and will work endlessly to improve a situation. I have been creative, strategic, and intentional with putting myself in the right circle of people and places. I learned the importance of taking care of yourself and what that might look like for me. I also learned that teaching is where I am meant to be. However, I do not believe k-12 is my calling.

During my Gap Year, though I enjoyed working with middle and high school students, I do not believe that the Education system supports teachers to develop great students. Therefore, I applied to four different graduate programs around the U.S. I am now enrolled at the University of Arkansas to encourage more inclusive communities and be a part of changing what education looks like in the U.S.

Through serving long hours in various school systems and summer camps, I noticed that I was passionate about giving students the best quality experiences. I noticed that I put my students first in every capacity. I believe that those intense emotions or connections should never be ignored. I hope that my graduate studies will show me ways that I can be more influential and allow me to make tangible goals to improve our education system.

This learning matters because I noticed my calling. I think I had been running away from it for so long and not identifying it for what it was. In every aspect of my life, I have been a leader and teacher. I use to think that I was the only one without “a thing” or passion or clear direction. But now I believe that my “thing” is leading within education and what better way to do that than through graduate school.

As a result of my Gap Year journey, I gained more focus on what makes Cayla happy and who adult Cayla might be. I am still writing my story in pencil for now, but I’m starting to get a better picture of the final chapter.

I want to thank everyone for following me on my Gap Year Journey. I will continue writing about my new transition on the First Year Grad tab.

Take safe risks and always put yourself first.

Best,

Cayla Jae

Senior Art Show

During the last couple of months, I have conducted research on the self-image and self-definition the identity of young African American women. Much of the literature review and expert interviews led to conversations which were challenging to grasp. Just understanding the reality of the adversities that come along with the intersectionality of being an African American woman in the U.S. was disheartening. However, the research did not end on a sad note.

What I realized is that young African American women see the importance of self-love. The group in my case study had begun to practice self-love and a freedom of expression which may initially sound rudimentary, yet is so complex and necessary to the collective progression. The majority of participants agreed that the thing they wanted most was to be free from expectations on who they should portray, what they should say, and what they should do as African American women.

With this in mind, I am continuing with this research into an artist project. For my second undergraduate capstone, I am creating a show through paintings which address the issues mentioned above. I have planned three large scale nude self-portraits in an attempt to humanize African American women through my own personal experiences. I am in the process of releasing myself from pre-prescribed labels and expectations. I am excited to keep you all updated with this process. The show will be exhibited on the 13th of April. 

You can follow the experience in real time via Instagram: cayla_jae. I will be posting sketches soon and process shots throughout the next couple of months.

Tune In This Winter

I have spent weeks trying to find the words and the perfect quote to express this thought. What I have now realized is that it does not have to be ingenious or flawlessly crafted. What I want to say is that I am transitioning.

For years, I have created work that I felt others wanted to see. I have painted, drawn, and written narratives that we not of my true nature, voice, nor intentions. Therefore, following my explorations aboard through the landscapes of Ireland and then nationally within the suburbs of Orlando, Florida, I have reached a period which I consider the eye of the storm.

I am currently doing research, along with person soul searching, in order to properly articulate my narrative. For this reason, I have not and will not be posting as often as I have in the past; however, this Winter you can expect sneak peeks of my first exhibition. I am excited about this for many reasons, but I am most excited to be able to sincerely share myself with you.

Best,

CDJ

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.

  • Maya Angelou

Me Time

20160216_144418-1Today, I was completing a reading (The Secret History by D. Tartt) given to me by one of my closet professors. The most recent section reminded me about our relationship to ourselves: strongly referencing this idea of mindfulness. You will find that you spend a lot of time contemplating or in conversation with yourself. Some people might find this annoying, but I think it’s worth while to build a strong relationship with the only person who can truly know and understand how you feel and what you mean. Spend some time with yourself today!

What’s Your Truth?

“Scare the World: Be Exactly Who You Say You Are and Tell the Truth.” -Found on 2wentysixletters.tumblr.com

One of the most frightening things a person can do is find themselves and their voice and be unapologetic about it. When you discover who you are and what it means to you to be that person, you will find a sense of relief and comfort. What’s more, you will discover the power you have in being comfortable in your own skin and will refuse to accommodate for the entertainment of others. I think this concept is the most fearless of quotes that I can present you with, because believe it or not, knowing yourself and your truth is the biggest threat that you could pose to the world. And honestly, I think we could use a little bit more of that.

Deck of Cards

“You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.” — Henri-Frédéric Amiel

It is no secret: Life is hard and it is not fair. This quote may seem a little pessimistic, but its statement still rings true. Our lives are consumed with this idea of suffering. From the very start of our existence, we fight the odds and choose life. People find ways to meet their basic needs as best they can and, in the face of misfortunate events, attempt to make the best of what they have. In living an artful life, one must “make use of suffering,” in that they make the choice to smile and persevere. Life is hard and it is not fair, but you have free will to arrange the cards you are dealt with.

Moments That Make You Go Wow

IMG_20160209_182832

Today I completed a figure drawing and for the first time in a while I said to myself, “Wow. I really like this.” I think it’s interesting how many people who don’t create assume that art comes naturally to certain people or that we aren’t so self critical. Artists are self critical by nature because that’s how we improve. This isn’t perfect but I like it.