Reflection

Beth had us read the GLOBE outcomes on Monday, and that got me thinking a lot about reflection, gratitude, and resolutions. This post will delve into those ideas in a less academic or course content-focused manner than I’m used to. But the intention is to remind us all to take things slow and focused during a very fast and unfocused part of our lives.

New Years Day: you write out a list on a post-it: “Drink 1.5L water /day. Lose 15 lbs. Read before bed every night. Get a 3.5 this semester. Eat paleo. Stay off Facebook. Save money. Sleep 8 hours. Learn to knit.” Individually, these goals are doable, but altogether they require a major lifestyle change. Not only is this unrealistic, but it leads you to wonder where your motivation lies. Now, I have nothing against New Year’s resolutions. I just believe goals are a form of self-care and should be created throughout the year sustainability and realistically, just as one should express care for others on days besides Valentines Day.

So if you’re in the mindset of reflection and resolutions, consider setting small goals at a time besides the first day of the year. And instead of “lose 15 lbs,” try a goal like “do strength training so I can climb Marcy with mom this summer,” or instead of “get a 3.5,” try a goal like “attend office hours more often” You may find that restructuring these goals will make you more motivated, because they’re far more achievable when you’re doing them for yourself rather than because you think someone is expecting you to.  

Speaking of expectations, the GLOBE learning outcomes are:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication
  • Quantitative, Computational, and Symbolic Reasoning
  • Informational and Digital Literacy
  • Creativity and Creative Thinking
  • Leadership and Collaboration
  • Diversity and Pluralism
  • Global Awareness and Engagement

Beth asked us to reflect on whether we feel we have been meeting these outcomes in our college careers. While such discussion was certainly enlightening, I was also wondering, “would other majors be reflecting in this way?,” “do I personally support the criteria on this list?,” and “how can I ensure to maintain these characteristics outside of college?”

The major definitions of “reflection” are:

a) “the throwing back by a body or surface of light, heat, or sound without absorbing it”

and 

b) “serious thought or consideration”

My interpretation is that, according to the GLOBE standards, we should be reflecting in a way that combines these two definitions; i.e., our “serious thought” should absorb and then throw back to the source. One way the school asks us to reflect is our department advisement journals. Below are some of my journal responses for the English advisement journal.  

What are you hoping to get from a major in English?

I’m hoping to maintain the more expressive, intuitive, and overall humanistic approaches I have as I progress in the academic and professional world. The Geography department is fairly adept at maintaining humanity, but it can’t always be their main focus, so I’m seeking a balance.

Are there career goals that you think the major will help you advance?

Journalism or teaching (??)

Are there particular topics you’re looking to learn about or discuss?

I’d like to continue the practice of telling the stories that are otherwise untold.

Are there particular skills you’re looking to develop?

Write a paper or article more methodically, actually editing for once, increasing confidence in my thoughts, concentrating while reading (not multitasking), and pulling my original ideas together without someone telling me what to think.

Can you make any connections among the courses you’ve taken?

This semester I have made a lot of connections between the Metropolis class and my natural sciences such as Physical and Biogeography, which I have spoken of in previous posts.

Months ago, the thought of filling out these responses made me anxious. I felt like I needed to have the answers in order to put them on an official page. I felt like I was placing myself in categories that I didn’t belong in. In fact, when you’re prone to anxiety like myself, too much reflection about anything can be just as damaging as no reflection at all. But I’ve come to learn that the school doesn’t provide the GLOBE outcomes or the advisement journal in order to conscript us into a bundle of nerves. These questions and expectations are important so that we’re not speeding through an expensive, mentally consumptive higher education system with no roots to grasp onto.

I kept debating whether to finish and publish this post, as it didn’t feel academic or related the the course enough. But as I sit at my laptop, daydreaming about sleep and eating out of something more substantial than tupperware (and knowing that too many others can easily sympathize), I remain confident in its importance. I’ll end with a quote from The Office’s final episode, as Andy says: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” I think a healthy balance of reflection, resolutions, and gratitude are a way to know when you’re “in the good old days.”

P.S. If you do need structure when it comes to focus and reflection, I highly recommend StayFocusd for limiting procrastination and Daylio for keeping track of life events and moods.

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