Keeping up with Kincaid: What happened this summer?


Laken Kincaid

Managing Editor, Laken Kincaid, examines their summer break and how it impacted their future

Laken Kincaid, Managing Editor

It has been four months since I have written a column just for me. I managed to churn out a few pieces here and there over the summer, many of which were motivated by current events, but I never seemed to find time to sit down and, for lack of a better term, vent on paper.

It feels like I blinked and the summer was gone, although I tried to document as much of the politics as I could online. There were some days that I reminded myself how fleeting those three months outside of college would be. Although I lived on campus during the summer, I felt entirely separated from school and my past classes. I called myself a “real adult” because I was working a day-to-day job and only using JCU for housing rather than education. 

Yet, no matter how quickly it went, I can tell time has passed because I am undoubtedly out of practice when it comes to Keeping up with Kincaid. 

So since I didn’t spend my days with my nose buried in Google Docs and existential reflection, I can’t help but wonder if I lost touch with myself. These columns give me a place to breathe and explore my emotions in a raw manner that I can’t quite find anywhere else. I tried yoga and was both bored and in pain at the same time. Bubble baths seemed like a great option until I realized I am a college student with communal showers. I thought of picking up skills like sewing or horticulture but everything seemed to fall flat around the middle of May. With some frustration, I had to answer the question, “where do you go when you don’t know who you are?”

My answer? Back to my roots.

For me, that is not quite a place but rather a flight of fancy; it is an attempt to access the childlike whimsy that I used to possess before my life was run by planners and emails. Before I chose my college, before I chose my career path and before I chose who I wanted to become, I was an artist.

I know, “artist” is such a loose term nowadays. You can argue that I am already an “artist” because journalism can be a form of self expression but that is neither here nor there. Yes, writing was always in the cards but I also wanted to incorporate illustrations into my life’s work; I craved a mode of visual storytelling. Without further illusions or sugar coating my past “delusions”, I will be completely transparent: I wanted to make Disney cartoons for a living when I was younger.

That may not seem as bad as wanting to be a princess, a cowboy or president, but cartoons were a huge love of mine. My birthday parties growing up were inspired by the likes of “Phineas and Ferb” and “Gravity Falls.” I would call them guilty pleasures but I was open about my adoration for the shows, so open that I wanted to create stories that followed in their footsteps. I told my best friends, my school counselor, random coffee shop employees and basically anyone who would listen. I also didn’t grow out of it like everyone else did with their dreams. I stuck with it for years until junior year of high school. 

Not only was I motivated, but I also had the skill needed to back my passion. I was great with pencil and paper sketching (shout out to The Tamarack for showcasing my mediocre middle school paintings) and my mind swirled with hundreds of characters and potential plots for any kind of story. I had my future all planned out.

But, just like this summer, unexpected things happened. I developed a tremor in my hand that made it difficult to draw especially on a computer just as digital art was becoming commonplace in the industry. While I still had thousands of creative ideas, they were all for naught when I could not hold my pen steady enough to draw a straight line. It frustrated me so much that I gave up and turned to journalism because I could continue to write, it was a steadfast industry and I didn’t have to worry about my shaking hands preventing me from cultivating a decent article. 

Was I also becoming solemn towards the arts due to the state of the world and my high school’s attitude towards them in general? Yes, but that is a different story. What matters is that I was willing to give up a craft I loved for the sake of practicality and ease of work. Shooting for the stars seemed illogical when I was barred by my own body. Deciding to forgo my dream truly felt like a tragically needed funeral as I continued on my academic journey. 

And honestly, I almost forgot how much joy I got from drawing and art. Senior year, I decided on journalism and tried not to look back. If you can’t tell by my past pieces, dwelling intensely on my own pitfalls makes me deeply upset. I tried to push out all doubts and calls to pick up the pencil again. In doing so, I fell in love with reporting and crafting a story with my own words woven intricately on a web page. In May, when I wrote my last “Keeping up with Kincaid,” I did not think I would ever draw again and, frankly, did not care. 

Yet, this summer surprisingly reintroduced me to my past. When I first started my internship, I was dreading the nine-to-five lifestyle and having to put on a professional persona day in and day out. However, I was surprised by how quickly I fell in love with the company and my role inside it. I was able to do graphic design work, something I never thought I would be able to do because of my past with digital art and my shaky hands. I managed to create multiple pieces I was proud of. This sense of ingenuity bled over into my other projects like video editing and script writing. It was refreshing and gave me a new sense of self. 

My confidence grew exponentially and I threw myself fully into my internship. I woke up at six in the morning everyday and was too excited to feel tired or worried. Walking into my workplace was one of the most invigorating feelings. Perhaps I felt like this because I was “healing my inner child.” Another potential reason could be because I adore the place I work and those I have the privilege of interacting with on a day-to-day basis. No matter the method, the result was still the same. I realized how much I missed art and how it made me feel.

You probably are wondering now if I am going to make some insane revelation stating that I no longer want to report and that I am going to transfer to some prestigious academy that teaches cartoon etiquette in Los Angeles. That is not the case. While leaving behind drawing in high school and rediscovering it recently seems straightforward with a predictable result, I feel compelled to see the brighter side of my past misfortune rather than return to it.

While I was disheartened to choose reporting at first and I am now elated to know I can still draw, that is not how this story ends. Without giving up art, I would not be writing this now. I would not be at John Carroll or even know how much I adore journalism. This is a classic case of “everything happens for a reason.” 

While I will continue to walk into my internship this fall with pride and an unquelled happiness overall, the biggest discovery I made this summer is that I am exactly where I need to be. I do not have to have it all figured out and do not have to try and endlessly investigate it through work or my personal life. Instead of worrying about time passing or who I am, I decided that I am doing fine where I am at and I will enjoy the voyage as I get to where I am meant to be.