Independence? Freedom?!

Initially, entering this class, I was baffled. I entered with the impression that we were going to focus on works from the Civil Rights Movement and prominent African American authors; with the course title being “Blackness, Love, and Justice,” I thought this was a safe assumption to make. But boy, was I wrong. Looking at the course’s reading materials, I knew I would be in for an interesting semester, especially once introduced to the blog posts.

Over the timeline of this course, to say I struggled with the blog posts is an understatement. As soon as I was informed these blog posts were self-paced, I knew I was doomed. I was unfamiliar with this concept. Was this independence, dare I say… freedom?

Being Korean-American, I grew up in a typical Asian household with a regimented lifestyle. I had certain expectations to uphold from a young age with my studies and extracurriculars, but I was never fazed by this. My mental and physical state were constantly on the verge of shattering, but these pressures are normal in the Asian community. By no means should they be normalized, but it was hard to complain when my fellow peers were also dying of that torment. My daily life entailed of school, after school academy, school homework, and then academy work. In and out of school, I was a mindless robot programmed to pump out papers and whatnot. I thought high school would be fun in my naive comparison to ABC Family teenage movies, but at least it was easy in the sense that I never had to think about what to do. From the ages of seven years old to eighteen, it was rinse and repeat. I was brainwashed, but content in my bubble.

Thus, with my regimented lifestyle, when introduced to the thought of freedom in this class…I was panicked. So, in this bleak way, I believe I mirrored Essun’s upbringing in the Fulcrum. She was denied agency, but Essun excelled within the limits the Fulcrum provided, and was rudely awakened once given complete freedom. In reaction to freedom, we both panicked!

Fast forward to this class, and given the path to write about what I want, when I want (within the course’s guidelines) my brain shouted, “Error 404.” I was dreading even thinking about the blog posts. How long should they be? How short? How informal or formal? From the tiniest details to the whole blog post, itself, I was lost. In addition, there were no hard deadlines. In my entire academic career, I had never had the luxury of choosing to do my work as I pleased. Confronting this new challenge, I reassured myself that I could simply do a few each month. But, again, the task seemed so daunting. Sure, I had dozens of ideas, but I was sure they lacked complexity and real development. Seeing my classmates’ blog posts, I was reluctant to post anything as their blog posts were too rusting good. So, I defaulted to my safest bet: ignore them, until I was forced to confront them. I had dug my own grave.

But, before I knew it, it was…November. Once again, procrastination had gotten the best of me. With less than two months in the semester left, I waved my pacing grade a goodbye. Was it my own fault? Why, of course! But, now I had to make the best of what I had and tried my hardest to somewhat evenly pace out the dreaded ten blog posts. The most difficult aspect of the blog posts was simply starting them. At the core, the downfall of my blog posts was comparison that led to the spiraling into my procrastination. I developed the toxic mindset of “why should I bother trying when I will never be able to get to their level?” I have struggled with comparison my whole life in an odd mixture of being a perfectionist, whilst still being a procrastinator. They all strangely fuel each other, until I am always caught in a less than favorable situation of wanting to submit “A” level material in practically no time. Obviously, as a writer, I get overwhelmed easily. This was all perfectly encapsulated in my earlier blog posts.

My first blog post was, in Dr. McCoy’s words, going “200 miles per hour, almost like the writer is like “Let’s get out of here–burn rubber! GO!” (sounds of car zooming).” I needed to drastically “slow down.” I attacked the The Casual Manner of Sexuality in Jemisin’s work and, well, failed. I approached the topic too broadly, and did not pinpoint clear examples of the subject matter. In addition, I was writing way too formally, especially in comparison with the tone I am currently using (wow meta). Even in the moment when I was submitting it, I knew it was subpar work. But I couldn’t identify the exact root of my problems. The blog posts seemed like a huge undertaking for my small brain. This was exacerbated by the fact that I was still wrapping my head around the intricacy of The Fifth Season.

But! Then, came the Midterm thinkING essay (cue sounds of ambulance sirens in the distance). Oh, how I wish I had evenly spaced the blog posts. My inability to pace the blog posts had directly impacted my Midterm thinkING essay, because I was still grappling with writing the blog posts. So, imagine that previous confusion multiplied infinitely. Now, I have a better understanding of what “thinkING” entails, but my essay was essentially a word jumble of brainstorming. My main pitfall was my constant need to implement an argumentative tone into my writing, because in my eyes, what was the point of writing an essay if you did not need to persuade your audience? I knew I did not actually need a typical thesis, but I regressed to my old, familiar ways and included one anyways. With a half-hearted thesis about race, my essay jumped from talking about different racial perspectives, Avatar, X-Men, to geology covered with a thinly veiled attempt at keeping my thesis relevant. Reading it now, I cringe with embarrassment as I look back at past Joy’s scrambled thoughts, and audibly sigh. I desperately required “breathing room,” as Dr. McCoy said.

Fast forward again to my fifth blog post, The Power of Names. The progression of my writing style and general blog post development significantly improved. This time around, I spoke of my personal connection to names and the power behind them. I utilized a less formal tone, and more importantly, focused on the post’s real connection to me. All too late, I realized that in order to give my writing meaning I should center the posts on something I authentically care for. Something I had not frequently done before in my academic writing.

Finally, I submitted my 10th blog post, Modern Day Slavery, on D-Day, December 1st. It was not my best work albeit, but I was happy to see my growth from my very first post. I was not as proud of my final blog post as I wanted to be, because of the time constraint I, ultimately, put myself under. In my opinion, the post was not horrible, but it felt rushed and simply is not where my 10th post should have been in terms of progress. I think, if possible, my writing regressed instead of moving forward. In comparison, my first post I was stumbling to find the words to walk the thin line between formal and informal, amongst other things; I applaud any and all that managed to read the entire thing without exiting. But, nevertheless, I am twice as proud to see that I magically finished all 10 blog posts. Good job, Joy! A quick look into my agenda could see the agony I had inflicted upon myself with “BLOG POST!!!” scribbled intensely every single week with all the highlighter colors one could fathom. Accomplishment is not a word I thought I would use when referring to my blog posts. But, rust it! Finishing my blog posts was an accomplishment. The weight that was lifted off of my shoulders was unimaginable.

This class was a rollercoaster of mostly fear and regret, in all honesty. However, the way that Jemisin’s work evolved my thinkING as a reader was tremendous. Her subtle and clever writing enhanced my perception and gave me a wider perspective. I have never read fiction such as this and I am glad to have been exposed to it. While, the course’s challenging, yet fulfilling tasks forced me to gain a larger insight. Reflecting on this past semester, I am glad to recognize my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. But, again, I wish that I had paced my blog posts evenly, and moreover, inquired more about how to improve further. Overall, I genuinely appreciated my time as a student in this rigorous class. I’m excited to see how this course’s tasks serve as a stepping stone in the long process of becoming the writer I want to be, and perhaps finally unlocking the mastermind that is N.K. Jemisin (!!).


My remaining blog posts:

2nd – Women and Their Age

3rd (collaborative) – LIVE IN ART??????

4th – The Nonconsensual Aspect of Childhood

6th – Imprisonment

7th – Indifference

8th – Proactiveness

9th –  Cur$!ng


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