How SCA changed my life – By @zoejessicad

By Zoe Dawson

How SCA changed my life



At the last interview day, an applicant asked us if we’d changed significantly since coming to SCA. I said yes, Charles said no, we joked about the collective weight gain in the room, and we moved on. But SCABs are about reflecting, and this is something that’s been on my mind. 


Why is it that I feel I’ve changed, and other people don’t think they have? Have I really? Have I changed for the better? Have I changed for good?


Maybe it’s because I’m young, and Charles is ancient, or because I didn’t (and don’t) really have a grasp on my own identity and others are pretty self-assured. Maybe it’s because a lot has changed for me beyond the studio; relationships, living situation, the eating disorder recovery thing. A lot of my ‘self’ was tied up in my long term boyfriend, living in little York, being thin, being academic, being kind of a hangry bitch a lot of the time… Moving to Brixton and starting school felt like stepping out of my old skin and spending the year naked, watching a new one being made. So maybe I’ve changed because I wanted to, or expected to. 


SCA is hard and it’s all-encompassing. You see less of your friends and family and make a new one and if you are the average of the company you keep, it’s no surprise that a shift in company shifts you. I felt surrounded by like-minded people for the first time when I first got here, and it was nice not to feel like the black sheep of this friendship group until I started to see what made me different to these guys and the black sheepery followed – I think it has more to do with being human than being legitimately ‘different’, but it made me self-aware in a new way beyond just blaming not being understood. 


I developed respect for my mentors and for Marc that I’d never really felt for authority figures in the past and I allowed myself to be helped more than I had in the previous 22 years, which meant I learned more. Learning also changes you. Hard work does too, and pushing yourself to your limits is revealing. Sometimes it’s worth it and you pull it off, and sometimes you fail despite it. Failing often, failing safely, and not having the time to dwell on those failures is something unique about the education you get at SCA that I think will have actually changed everyone for the better.


The whole learning curve broke me down and built me back up, just like Marc promised it would. At some point, the stress of school and the pressure I was putting on myself cracked my mental health and my capacity to make good work… But I was supported through it in a way I’m not used to and as promised, I came out of it better. I don’t fully understand how but I’m aware it took place in the last few months. 


If I look at my personality this year critically I feel like I can map it on a graph. I came out of my shell a little bit but I’ve sort of gone back into it. I got more confident and then less. I became a little less serious but I’m still guilty of not having enough fun. I got fundamentally more creative, or better at channelling it. I didn’t exactly work harder, but I found out how wonderful it is to work hard at something you love. I started fuelling my life with gratitude, and I think that’s made me happier. I learned how to work with a partner, how to loosen control, how to cope with not being perfect. I’ve gotten more patient but I still tell Sophie to show up an hour before I’ll be somewhere so she gets there on time. I learned how good it feels to prove people wrong, to push myself, to actively try and be better. I realised I don’t need everyone to like me. Working 1 on 1 with people made me appreciate others more, I think I’ve become less selfish, but maybe it’s selfish to think that.


So maybe I haven’t changed, maybe I’ve just learned about myself and the world. I’m 23 – maybe I’ve just grown up. I thought the new skin was going to be ready for me to slip into on the morning of portfolio day. A new me, sewn by SCA. Turns out I’ve just realised that once you allow yourself to grow (literally and metaphorically, lol) you probably won’t stop. So I guess I’m staying naked.

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