I have a very vivid memory of Groundhogs Day when I was in the second grade. My teacher announced that we would be making a little groundhog village out of paper. Being the little overachiever and perfectionist that I am, I immediately freaked out. I didn't know how to make a groundhog village! What was she thinking? I was only in the second grade, after all! How was I magically supposed to know how to actually create a groundhog, let alone a groundhog village? The audacity of it all! I believe tears were shed in my consternation.
My wise teacher kindly and patiently heard me out and quietly encouraged me to just try. Through my tears I scribbled out a little groundhog and then made a little house. Suddenly I realized that I could do better, and I added several features, like a mailbox and a windowbox. Before you can pause to see your shadow, I had caught fire. My groundhog village took off--I made a groundhog school, a groundhog hospital, a groundhog post office, a groundhog store, a groundhog library. By the end of the day, my teacher had to pry me away from my now expert groundhog village.
I've been feeling that same second grade panic again as of late. I have to create a website? I ask my digital history professor in sheer panic. But I don't know design! I don't know CSS! I don't know how to manipulate curves and levels in Photoshop! I just want to be a historian! How can you expect me to know what colors go together and how to create gradients and masks, how to use the right typeface to create an inviting ambiance and represent my time period?!? The audacity! I also have to write papers and read and complete assignments and maintain a busy social calendar and life a life of culture! How can you expect me to drop everything and EXPERIMENT? Who has that kind of time?
And yet there's a secret part of me that really does revel in color blending and texture--after all, isn't it like quilting? And I secretly could spend hours playing with fonts. So maybe my fear is really that I've found a new activity, one that I know I'm not very good at yet, but that I could be good. I'm afraid that I'll have to buy a new computer (no! not a Mac!) and the newest versions of Photoshop and Dreamweaver. I'm afraid that I will get sucked into hours spent hunched over my keyboard, digging through websites, creating digital groundhog hospitals and libraries. Who knows what this could start?
If only I had the energy of a second-grader... and my construction paper and crayons for tools...