Relatively Speaking

rel·a·tiv·i·ty (n): the dependence of various physical phenomena on relative motion of the observer and the observed objects, especially regarding the nature and behavior of light, space, time, and gravity. considered in relation or in proportion to something else, existing or possessing a specified characteristic only in comparison to something else; not absolute.

When I speak of myself, I like to use the word relatively relatively often. I feel am a relatively calm and put together person. I think I am relatively intelligent, relatively nice, understanding. The people I surround myself have both shaped this image of me, and serve as proof of these perceived facts. I try to push these perceptions of myself onto others as fast as I possibly can, trying to carefully calculate and carry myself as though I know what I am doing, and I think I do this, relatively, well.

I felt that I knew what relativity meant when I signed up for this course, and that I was well equipped for it, but this course challenged me mentally, emotionally, conceptually, and sometimes physically. To expand your scope beyond former constructs, and to stretch the limits of the world around you, is one of the most challenging things to do as a person. It’s easy to stay in your own world, in your own beliefs, in your own perspective, but to stretch and reach out and understanding those around you on more than one level makes well rounded adults in this world.

Where I come from, black people and white people don’t talk to each other, unless there’s mixing within activities, which only happened with sports, for there apparently was not enough room for diversity in the AP classes. To have such an intermixing of perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures in this one course is a new and refreshing sight for me. What comes with this, though, is opening yourself up for uncomfortability. And being open to learn. I had no idea about Prince’s work. I had no idea beyond watching it on the news about Katrina, and the constant attempts cultural upheaval in African American communities, especially in New Orleans.

What’s nice about this course, and its atmosphere, is that everyone brings something to the table. Because of the diverse backgrounds, and with everyone’s perspective being individual, with this being an individual driven course, every opinion matters. If the opinions are opposing, it is because we are all different. If it is the same, it is because in the end, we are all joined by a collective love of art and/or diversity, and expression within that.

At the beginning of the semester, I felt dumb. I felt like a dumb freshman in over her head. I felt that my associates were smart, articulate, and were grabbing everything out of the air where I saw nothing. But this course has helped me make strides in self reflection and self worth, in that my voice is important and helps shape the discussion.

It does not matter that my scope was narrow in dissecting art. It does not matter that I was not as well versed in systemic upheaval, and recognizing catholic imagery and symbolism. What matters is that I grew, learned, and got more comfortable with myself and this course. I got the opportunity to get to know my classmates.

I have to stop myself from focusing on my pitfalls in a self destructive lens, for I feel very heavily for my deprecatory side. I was not very present in the course; I became the folks that peel away that Beth warned us about. I acknowledge this, while also knowing that failure is another facet of learning. My attendance was spotty. This does not make my voice invalid. My voice is invalid if I tell myself and others that it is. I also need to recognize that the people around me are not out to get me if I stumble. I learned the hard way the side effects of not asking for help, but all experiences are learning experiences.

This is what I learned from my course. That every person brings something to the table. The cutlery is just as important as the food, and the company someone can bring to the table is just as valid as well. And I’m thankful for this course, and what Beth McCoy has brought me this semester.

fam·i·ly(n): a group of people related to one another by blood or marriage (or by common interests, like this one).

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