Before SMFA, I grappled with my day-to-day life, clinging to the fantasy of becoming a great artist. I worked with a mentor, participated in a couple of shows — non-figurative mixed media on paper, oil on canvas, acrylics on paper. My mentor and my therapist both encouraged me to follow my dream, to pursue an MFA. My self-injurious performances laid bare what I could not have faced in any other way. I am given the corrective emotional experience of acceptance. Part of me still refuses to embrace the joy that art (and life) can bring, but I have gained greater self-awareness. I have arrived at the real.