Updated: Sep 9, 2020
In six days I'm sitting for the examination to enter the Athens School of Fine Arts. It was a decision made during the summer, I'm not really well prepared, but I though I should give it a go. Well of course we have Covid-19 and some Erdogan threats in Greece, but I still try to remain focused. Today I'm feeling much better and calm. A couple of days ago, to be honest, I was not well. I was somehow paralysed by anxiety and I couldn't function properly. The though of exams is terrifying. Here are the reasons why.
Three years ago I had again started art lessons in order to prepare for the Fine Arts examination. It was a crazy dream I had, to enter the Art World in parallel to my 9 to 5 job. It was some sort of desire to explore the other side of my brain, the more creative one, while continuing to work on numbers, time series analysis, marketing and econometrics. I was at that time chosen for my exhibition in Acropolis Metro station, so I was more motivated to get serious about my hobby.
So every Sunday I would spend 5 hours in the art class, despite my fatigue and my actually 9-8 everyday work routine. Despite the difficulties, I found the lessons very inspiring and promising. It was the first time I actually took art lessons and I loved it! I learnt how to measure and how to use charcoal and how to study light and shadows. The lessons started in late November, and the plan was to sit for the following September, when the general examinations took place. Then if that wouldn't work, I would get a second chance in November, when 'second degree' students examinations took place. It was a good plan and I was utterly determined to stick to!
But unfortunately plans don't always happen. And that's ok. But worst things can happen that can completely change your life. In February my mother entered the hospital and the doctors diagnosed cancer metastasis in lungs. They prepared us for the worst, and they said she would soon get back in hospital as her life time was limited. I was trying to spend my weekends in my hometown as much as possible and took some days off to spend more time with her at home. Unfortunately she passed away in 2nd April 2017 and it took me some time to get myself together. I used all my annual leave, to have some time on my own. Work permits only two days off in case of mourning. Hence soon I had to go back to the office. I was even urged to make a business trip in May to Italy despite not feeling ready yet. My boss' attitude was completely inhuman saying jokes such as:" Don't worry you have so much work to do, that you won't be thinking about your mum". I was truly feeling disgusted and emotionally stressed.
I was not in the mood of art class, theatre class or my boxing exercise for a couple of months. However I managed to go for just a few times. It all had to stop again, as I had to enter the hospital this time. I discovered I had pneumothorax and I needed an operation asap. If you have been watching Money Heist, remember what happened to Nairobi in Season 3, when the bullet made a hole to her lung and they had to operate her and remove the air between the lung and the thorax. This is what pneumothorax is. My doctor planned the operation for the 17th June. It all went very well and I took a month off to rest and complete my recovery. The doctor said no more boxing or any other cardio exercise or weight lifting was allowed anymore. In August, when I could better walk and move, I went back to my art class and applied for the examinations. I thought it would be a good idea to sit for the exams despite not being prepared, as I had lost so many lessons. Still it would be an opportunity to see how this works and prepare for the 'second degree' students examinations in November.
Since I had no days off left, I asked from my manager to cover me in the mornings and I would continue working in the afternoons, either from home or the office. The examinations lasted 5 days, a whole working week, so I had to agree with my manager in order to make it work. She said yes and I was really happy I had the support I needed!
I made it only for the first day of the examinations. They were getting held in the impressive building of Athens School of Fine Arts. The place was full of young people, mostly 18 years old and it felt really competitive. I was feeling overwhelmed (and old) by their talent as I couldn't resist looking around me and see amazing pieces of art. I was so stressed and tired. I had to be there very early in the morning, but I also had work in mind. I had to complete a big analysis presentation had for one of my clients. So I left the examination much earlier than the others. I called my manager and ask her politely to work from home, as I had a headache and it would take me an hour to get to the office. She started yelling at me, saying that she didn't know where I was, and that she could not cover me to our boss. Lesson learned; don't trust your manager. I'll use again an example from Money Heist; do you remember who took charge of the negotiations after Raquel? Alicia! Yes, this is exactly the character of my old manager.
I went to the office, I remained calm and continued my FHP presentation, trying not to be influenced by my toxic work environment. When I went back home, more bad news were waiting for me. My sister called me and said she was coming urgently in Athens, on her own from Chania, in order to enter the following morning to a pneumothorax operation. I of course didn't continue the art examinations and stayed next to my sister. The operation went well! During my sister's recovery in the hospital the following days, I completed my FHP mops and buckets marketing analysis presentation. This presentation went also very well, and my client was really happy!
But what about me? Well, I felt defeated. I felt there was no way I could change a situation. And I mean, that's ok, it was an examination I wasn't even prepared for and was just to see how it works. Still, the feeling of defeat was very strong. I had no courage left to continue for the examinations in November as I felt as a dependant variable of fate and hospitals. Plus I had no days off left and no support, and I was super busy with work. I got a cold and started coughing really bad. Due to my heavy workload I only managed to see my doctor after Karamolegos (big bread company) presentation. And at the same day, 2nd November I entered the hospital for a second time, again with pneumothorax. This time I avoided the operation but the the pain was much worse. I had to stay once again a month at home in order to recover. After going back to work, I requested to change departments. Everyone was expecting me to come back from the hospital in order to complete the necessary work. In my annual evaluation I got 2 out of 5 because of my health issues. HR department did nothing about that. Despite all my hard work, despite all the happy clients, despite bringing 300% increase of sales due to analytic projects.
After all these adventures, I did not want to even thing about art examinations. I was scared that something bad would happen to me or my family. This is why I feel so stressed these days. I can't really help it. So I decided to write everything down, take it out of my chest and my head.
Let's hope that no war will take place between Greece and Turkey and that no lockdown will happen until Monday or any other health issues to my beloved ones.
And let's pray I pass these exams so that i don't have to go through this again!