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C10P14 – A Dreamer

C10P14 – A Dreamer published on 16 Comments on C10P14 – A Dreamer

I’ve been very excited to post this page and the pages that come after it for some time now. Partly because I love drawing the Dreaming pages. And partly because they’re really, really fun pages. And even more so because I enjoy Mizha’s journey in this particular chapter, and I hope the rest of you do too.

One of the things I like about her trip into a new Dreaming is that it’s sparked by the conversation she had with Kali last chapter. I enjoy how someone can say something rather small, and likely years down the line they won’t remember it at all, but that small sentence can burrow into a person’s brain and their heart and their soul and take root. A small sentence can transform an entire personal paradigm. Mizha has always thought herself helpless. The idea that, just maybe, she isn’t helpless at all is a very big deal for her. And I’m really excited to explore with her exactly what she can do when she believes in her own ability to create change.

For myself, there’s lots of small sentences that had big impacts for me. “You give too much credit to bad men,” helped me see how I’ve always tended to excuse bad behavior in others because I wasn’t good at setting and defending healthy boundaries and limitations. “You do your work with integrity, honesty, and intensity,” became a key phrase of self-validation and self-definition for when I’m in a depressive state. And, of course, the three pieces of wisdom that I learned from Dale Becker, which I talked about in a blog a few weeks ago. When I stop to think about it, it almost seems like every major shift in my life has been born of a small sentence that altered the course of my thinking and self-perception.

What small sentence has made a big difference in your life?


Children visit this site. Moderate your language accordingly.

My friend Natalie basically bulldozed me out of the deep end of my SAD, and has given a lot of (bossy, overbearing, loud) advice and forceful comfort over the years. The one thing she told me, mere days after we met, that pivoted my whole world, and changed where I was heading, was ‘You’re not your mother.’

Yeah… I have mommy issues *hangs head in shame*

We can form a club! As long as that club meets every Tuesday for brunch with my OTHER club, Daddy issues.

Sometimes it’s important to remember that our lives are our own.

I find a lot of those “big deal concepts said in small ways” in this comic. Thank you for that. ๐Ÿ™‚

For me the idea that people do grow past their set of issues (though a long process that involves backsliding sometimes) is a big deal that I appreciate frequent reinforcement on. And those issues do not define them. Likewise, that people are not defined only by their strengths either, and that if you fail at your strength once, you’re still you.

Oh yes. I am a bit dense socially, so there have been certain key points in my life that were ‘wake up calls’ to how others perceived me. There are probably more that I can’t remember atm, given my horrible memory, but here are two that stick out to me;

When I was about eight, we went on a family trip driving all over the country, visiting various relatives and friends of our parents. At one particular stop (and it shames me that I can’t remember the man’s name, I think he was one of my Mom’s cousins, but I haven’t seen him since and, well, me and names…) I saw these cute little wooden dutch shoes and fell in love with them. I spent the whole time at that house gushing over how they’d be just the right size for my favorite doll – asking for them without actually asking, if you know what I mean. When we left, the man smiled and gave them to me. I thanked him, but really, didn’t think all that much of it – I had lots of toys, and while I liked them, they were just one more accessory for my doll. After the trip, my Mom took me aside and gave me a little talk. She explained how he’d been given those shoes as a thank you for protecting people in a war, and how they were about the only positive thing he’d gotten out of the experience, how much they meant. I kept thinking about how I conned him out of them(not in those terms of course, I was eight), and how they didn’t even fit the doll after all, and how I’d been acting my whole life kind of hit me over the head like a pile of bricks. That conversation marks the end of my acting like a spoiled brat.

The second point was in high school. A friend of mine was playing a video game and reached a point where there was a personality test of sorts, and we were all having fun taking turns playing through that part. It got to be my turn…you start out in the desert, and you wander and wander and eventually run into a guy standing next to his unconscious friend. He tells you they have enough water for only one of them to get out, and his friend can’t walk, but he doesn’t want to leave them, and asks you what he should do. I told him he should leave his friend and get out – in that situation it’s the only choice right? His friend can’t make it out on their own, if they share the water both die, the only way for either of them to live is for him to go on his own. The game informs me I’m a bully. Naturally I was outraged, said “I’m not a bully!” – and then my friend shrugged and said, “Well, yeah, you kinda are.” I was stunned. I’d never thought of it that way. I was loud and kinda bossy, but I’d started out that way as the only way to be heard. I just hadn’t stopped when it wasn’t needed anymore.

Thereafter, I was far more careful to ask what others wanted to do, and much better about thinking before I spoke.

Though I still don’t agree with how the game reached its conclusion. If the advice was unsolicited, sure, but the guy ASKS for your opinion.

I’m looking forward to Mizha defining herself in the future instead of letting others do it for her.

My boss said something to me recently at a review that stuck with me. It was a positive review overall, but he mentioned that I’d gotten better at my reactions to problems. He said, “I understand that when you get angry like that, it’s because you’re mad at yourself because you didn’t plan for what happened, but sometimes you can’t do that, and I think you’ve gotten better at accepting surprises.” And it was a really true summation of my feelings. I hardly ever get upset at other people–it’s usually frustration with myself for backsliding or screwing up, but that’s hard to express for me.

That last panel is amazing! The coloring in the eyes really gives it some extra flash — gets the “fire” across exceptionally well. Great work! I love this page so much. Can’t WAIT to see more of this next chapter, if *this* is what’s going to be explored.

Also that “I’m a dreamer” line. God. You slay my feelings, Robin.

And, uh, small sentences, small sentences… I know there must be dozens scattered through my early life, but they don’t really stick out in my memory. (Like you said, “years down the line they don’t remember it at all.”) The ones I recall are from about a year ago, when life kind of dealt me an all-time worst hand; my grandfather was dying and needed round-the-clock care, I was struggling with a hellishly ambitious course load at school, and I had both of the school’s Legendary Hard-Ass Professors at the same time. Naturally, you don’t come out of times like those as the same person you were when they started.

The first Small Sentence came on the Monday after I came back from visiting home for a weekend, which meant a 12 hour drive followed by an “every two hours” medication schedule and bathing and feeding and all that for two days, then a 12-hour drive back, then maybe a couple hours of sleep before class… and not much in the way of homework. So I showed up, exhausted and bracing myself for a ripping over my lack of progress, and showed the prof what I had so far. It wasn’t the most ambitious project I’d ever tried but I was trying to make it look nice (with zero success). He took one look at my setup, glanced at me, and said, “You’re working too hard.” And then he showed me how to organize my workflow in a way that cut my production process in half, without sacrificing quality. “You don’t have to kill yourself to do good stuff — work smarter, not harder.

(That man was Michael Jantze, author of The Norm comic strip. Probably one of the best teachers I’ve ever had, and a huge influence on how I approach things now, both creatively and from a business standpoint.)

The second Small Sentence, because these things seem to come in threes, came from the first of the Legendaries — an ex-Disney visual effects animator who inspires his students, despite pushing them to the bone and scaring their socks off regularly. I had reached a point in the semester where I wasn’t sure I’d even be there for Finals week — Mom was dropping hints that Grandpa might not make it that long and I was needed back home — so I made an appointment with him, explained my situation, and asked what I should to to make sure I didn’t flunk the class for missing the Big Project.

What I expected was a sort of “Shit happens, so you need to learn to deal with it, and I expect you to send me the completed project anyway.” I thought that’s how professional things worked — you get a shot, you get it done well and on time, regardless of outside issues.

What I got was, “No. I’m not allowing you to do the whole assignment. You’re only going to do half, and you’re going to give me 110% on that half. Because I know you THINK you can give me 110% on everything, but you can’t. And no matter what I tell you all in the classroom, I don’t come first — your family does.

The third Small Sentence was, er, of a different tune than those two, and it came from the other Legendary. This man had also worked for years at one of the big studios, and his stuff is brilliant, and he’d proven to have valuable insight into the craft and taught me a boatload about animation over the course of that semester. But he didn’t give two hoots about my situation.

So I ended up actually leaving for home right before Finals, not expecting to come back. I had just barely started the final exercise for his class, which had only just been assigned, and then spent a week at home without access to any kind of animation software or material (and certainly no time to work even if I did). But Mom caught a lucky break: an unexpected day off from work, and a chance discovery of a RIDICULOUSLY cheap round-trip flight to my school’s city. So the idea was that I’d fly back, pick up my cat (who’d been left at a kennel), and fly home the same day. I stumbled home at 4am and realized I would actually have just enough time to attend the last session of this guy’s class, so I frantically got the exercise as-finished-as-possible — not realizing, in my frantic sleep deprived state, that it was objectively crappy — and dragged myself to class.

He pulled up my submission on the classroom’s big scene and shredded me. Not the project, which I won’t defend because it was legitimately awful. Me. He called me lazy, told me I’d never get a job, told me I’d promptly lose any job I’d get, told me he would never recommend me to any of the dozens of industry recruiters he knew… and said “This thing tells me you don’t even like animating. This thing says ‘I’m just doing this to get it done.'”

Now, toxic as that was, it did make me realize something.

One: I DON’T like animating. Actually, I hated it. I’d picked the wrong major and had been trying to ignore the soul-sucking feeling I got from it for the past couple of years.

Two: Nobody gets to talk to me like that.

I added Sequential Art as a second major, which has given me a badly-needed shot of creative energy again, and I developed a backbone. I didn’t tolerate dismissive or derogatory comments from anyone anymore, even professors — though with professors, I would always be polite in my retort, and push them to rephrase their point into something more constructive. And if I heard about a “really great teacher” who had a reputation for trashing their students, I avoided them no matter how glowing their other reviews were.

There are other ways to learn craft techniques, and countless other sources from which to learn them. I refused to sacrifice my self-worth on that altar. And from research, and interviews with family friends with actual teaching degrees, I’ve learned that the REAL “great teachers” know that if you have to trash your students, you’re doing it ALL WRONG.

So these days, I tend to focus on streamlining everything, so that it involves as little work as possible while still getting a quality result; I prioritize my health, happiness, and family above everything else, including school; and I changed my plans, escaped a major that was killing me on the inside, and grew a spine.

Long post with a lotta stuff.


Sorrel, never apologize for long comments. You are in the Kingdom of Ramblers when you’re on this site. It’s cool. ๐Ÿ™‚

I had a similar revelation in regards to a bad teacher and self-worth a few years ago. Great teachers never have to stoop to “breaking” their students in order to get their message across. If a teacher has to crush a person’s self-worth before they can express an idea, then there’s too much of their own ego in the mix. I’m glad that you’ve managed to separate both good and bad, and to get so many valuable lessons out of such a difficult time.

I don’t know if you’ll ever get this, but I think I just had one of those Small Sentences reading your post.

“I refuse to sacrifice my self-worth on that altar.”

Reading that, I just realized… there is no altar great enough to ennoble and legitimize that sacrifice.

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