Throughout the past four years as a Film and Media Studies major, I’ve seen a lot of movies. Most of my classes included screening nights, when my classmates…
Let me start by saying everyone uses both sides of their brain and no one is truly a “left brain” or a “right brain.” Science has also shown that ability to learn language, understand grammar, and manipulate numbers, while often found in the left hemisphere of the brain, are sometimes found in the right side instead. It is not an exact science. That being said, I believe that although we are not physically left or right brain dominant, we are psychologically. There are many people who, for example, excel best when given a set of rules to obey and a pattern to follow. There are others who are hindered by that and thrive on their own freedom. And then there are many, like me, who often find that they are a true blend of both left and right. In the above example, I love having rules and knowing my boundaries, but I do not love being required to follow said rules and boundaries. I need a little bit of logic and a little bit of creativity to feel comfortable.
The idea that people can be truly happy living in the middle seems obvious, and yet its practical applications in life are often scarce. Growing up I was always “The Creative One,” “The Artist,” or “The Musician,” while my sister was “The Math One,” “The Science One,” or “The Sporty One.” And I’m sure this doesn’t only apply to me. I have worked with kids for 5 years and have found that parents love labeling their children like this. They’re not trying to limit them; they just want to show their pride in their children’s talents. But this separation of only being good at certain things often makes kids only try certain things and enforces the idea that you have to “choose” a “left brain” or “right brain” lifestyle. And in ninth grade, this choice became very literal to me.
When I switched into a new high school I was given a very special offer. I had scored very high in my math entrance exam and was offered a chance to advance a year in math. I was excited about the opportunity, but it came with a catch: I would have to take two math classes during my freshman year and therefore couldn’t take an art class. It was only one year, but for me, “The Artist,” it was a big deal. And what frustrates me the most about it, looking back, is that it was assumed I would have a strong preference for either the left brain or right brain path. Art is commonly seen by administrators and adults as the most useless class subject. It almost never receives the same amount of focus that any other subject receives, and I’m sure that’s why the math department at my high school chose for me to skip that particular subject. It wasn’t a direct offense against my creativity. But it does relate to the fact that we often make ourselves follow one path and assume others want to as well. If you had asked me what class I would have wanted to skip the most instead of art it would probably have been science, the subject people often associate with math. In the end I chose to take the two math classes and sacrifice a year of art, and as high school went on I slowly stopped participating in other forms of art. I only continued with one of my two instruments, I stopped drawing and painting for fun, I stopped creative writing, I quit dance, I quit photography. And then I entered college and found something new.
I am someone who needs my art to be technical and my technology to be artistic. And I have finally found my medium: film. It’s a methodical art full of steps and rules (which are more like guidelines anyway) and allows me to be both analytical and unrestricted. Some films, like documentaries, are very in-the-moment, but many times you are offered the peace of mind knowing that you can try something again if you got it wrong. Mistakes can be corrected, or they can remain and turn your art into something new.
Film is also rarely a one person job. More often than not you even have a whole team to help you out. This is one of my favorite aspects of the medium. Like most people, I tend to second-guess myself and over-analyze my work (that pesky left brain). This second-guessing can debilitate my work until I’m no longer making any progress, instead just changing things for the sake of it. But with a team, a team who I trust, I feel more comfortable letting my right brain run free, and I know that if something isn’t good they’ll know and tell me. In fact, I find collaboration to be one of the best ways to use both sides of your brain.
Most people at Tufts are incredibly well-rounded and have already mastered the delicate balance between analysis and creativity. But for those of you who have stuck with one track your whole life, who never felt anxiety choosing between math and art because you never cared for one of them, who struggle when you have to think a different way, I encourage you to try to use both sides of your brain more often, and hopefully even at the same time. Because patterns and logistics are soothing and comfortable, and emotions and passion are exciting and invigorating, and when you’re able to put them together you get amazing feelings of security and happiness. And maybe like me it will be film. Or maybe it will be engineering, where you use science and math to create and invent. Or maybe it’s music theory or art history, which are analyses of art. But the good news is that there’s no one way of learning, and of course, it’s never too late to try something new.