Circles on Circles on Circles

This class will definitely be the most rigorous English  course I have taken to date my college career,  and as I move towards the culmination of my academia, graduation, I feel encouraged to look behind and contemplate my path; what sort of path is it, what’s it shape? I’ve always thought of college as a line, sloping upward, increasing, and I’d say the large part of the student body would agree with this comparison. But if I seriously look back at the past three years of college and had to assign some sort of shape to all studying, testing, studying, writing, studying, and testing I’ve done, it’s anything but linear.

So, in the interest of ever-evolving my perspective and challenging the viewpoints which ground the base of my character, one of my goals for this class is to challenge my ideas on what college is, and to view my academic career much more holistically instead of something separate from other aspects of my life.

In his comedy special Kid Gorgeous John Mulaney asks “what is college?” For me this question evokes cliche similes which all seem to share the theme of progression: “college is like climbing a mountain, college is like a ladder, a staircase”. But college encompasses such a wide array of events that these comparisons fall flat from their simplicity. In class we talked about cycles, how things we seem to think we’re done with can pop back up into our life, how life itself is a cycle, so perhaps it is more useful to look at my path as a circle. Already my head is practically bursting with all the ways this is true. Every course itself is a circle, using knowledge we’ve gained to build upon new ideas but always cycling back. Because I’ve been looking at my courses like I was climbing a mountain, I haven’t retained as much information. Once I’m done with a concept or section, and taken the test on it, I tend to forget it in favor of continuing on climbing towards that next test. But if a course is a circle, we are constantly going around, continually using and reusing ideas. I’ve never approached a course like this, and one of my goals this semester is to do this, so I will be much more involved in the class.

If a course is a circle, then college itself could be a larger circle, with smaller circles branching off of it like the fractals we looked at and read about. Even a larger circle than this is life, with college branching off. This metaphor is starting to get a little our of control so I’m going to post a picture. Hopefully it illustrates better what I’m trying to say. This brings me to my second goal of the semester, to look at this course as well as college in general more holistically.

Toni Morrison writes “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” When I read this quote, as one does when reading quotes about our own mortality, it made me think about the value of time and how I’ve been using mine. While I haven’t been wasting it, I don’t know if I’ve used it as well as I’d like to. Not only have I been looking at college like a line, but also life. I’m quick to move on, to keep climbing, and very rarely do I look back. I’ve treated the different aspects of my life (my college career, my social life, my relationships) as separate. No where did this hit me harder than when reading Reagon’s “Nobody Knows the Trouble I See”. She writes about the difficulty of straddling two lines and the satisfaction of mastering this ability, and finding that “hybrid system”. This is something I fail at, in life and in school. In my courses I always have trouble using personal experiences or finding outside relevant information to bring up in class. I think this derives from an inability to look at life holistically. If I looked at life more like the fractal above, with all the cycles connected encompassed under one big cycle, I think not only would my academic career improve but it would also benefit my relationships with friends and family, because just as I will strive to bring my personal experience from the outside into the classroom, I will also strive to bring my experiences in this course outside into everyday life.


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