Deconstructing my own Expectations

I really struggled last semester—and am still struggling—with deconstructing my own expectations of myself. I cannot expect myself to be the same person I was a year ago, a month ago, or even a week ago. Whether I am prepared or not, I am constantly growing and constantly changing. I set standards for myself of how I thought I should be changing rather than focusing on how I already had changed and could potentially change. In ignoring the progress I had already made in becoming my own person, I was doing myself a disservice. If I do not acknowledge the valuable progress I have already made, how can I possibly be prepared to continue changing in a healthy way? In my goal-setting essay I wrote that, “I want to learn how to get more comfortable with change, especially change that I did not expect or consent to.” I believe I finally am beginning to understand that the reason change made me uncomfortable, whether it was expected or not, is because I had not yet truly realized that I have control over my own life. I believe I felt out of control because of the unreasonably high standards I set for myself to always be perfect. These standards were unachievable. Every time I failed to meet my own expectations I felt even worse about myself because with each “failure” I expected myself to do better next time rather than confronting why I failed in the first place. 

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Learning to Adapt

Firstly, I want to talk about consent and choices. Dawn is exemplary of how intertwined the ability to make choices and the ability to consent are. Lilith has been placed in a position that she did not consent to, which means any choices she is presented with are not truly her own, especially in the controlled environment of the Oankali ship. For example, early on Jdahya gave Lilith the choice to end her life by touching his tentacles, which would cause him to involuntarily sting her. Lilith “chose” to keep living, even though she didn’t understand why she wanted to.  This is shown when she says, “Oh god…Why didn’t I do it? Why can’t I do it?” (45). This demonstrates how in her circumstances she can’t really make decisions that are actually what she wants to do. 

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The Danger of Numbers

In Molly’s essay she wrote about how she struggled to gather her thinking to respond to the prompt. She stated, “I felt as if I wasn’t noticing anything closely enough to construct a strong essay, so I decided to wait, give myself some time, and read what other classmates were thinking in their essays.” I found myself stuck in this situation also, but as Emily’s writing inspired Molly’s, Maria’s helped me focus on what I wanted to write about too. Maria wrote about how human lives should not be equated to simple statistics. She said that “each one of these numbers is a full human being with a story to tell.” As I was reading her essay, I realized that this history of treating people as numbers has been disturbing me too. 

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The Effects of Greed

My first encounter with mortgages was when I first played the video game Animal Crossing. The premise of the game is that you play as a human who arrives at a town of animals. The first thing you do is pick out a one-room house.  A racoon named Tom Nook is the one who sells it to you, and the price is outrageous because he is a greedy crook. But there is no other choice, so you agree to take out a large loan that can be paid off in increments. It’s just a video game, so it is not nearly as complex as the real-life mortgages we have been reading about in The Big Short and The Turner House, but it is the basis of my knowledge about mortgages.When our class first started reading The Big Short many of us outwardly agreed that it was confusing, and Dr. McCoy pointed out that of course it is confusing, because the situation the people in The Big Short are dealing with does not make sense. Steve Eisman and company spend much of the book attempting to get to the bottom of it, and they realize that banks have been giving nearly all mortgages good ratings in a nonsensical manner. The CEOs of the banks didn’t understand it either, but they seemingly did not care to understand it since they were profiting. 

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The Corruption of Genuine Love

The opening scene of King Lear is the most important scene in regard to how much impact it has on what follows. Lear has decided to give up his properties to his three daughters, but only if they tell him how much they love him in exchange. Lear states, “Which of you shall we say doth love us most, that we our largest bounty may extend.” This swap that Lear initiated leads to the corruption of his relationship with his daughters, and their relationships with each other. Various instances of expulsion also ensue as a result of these corrupted relationships.

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Connecting Through Art

While considering what art means to me I realized that in the past I viewed it as, above all, a method of self-expression. But throughout this course I have realized that there is so much more to it than that. Art can still be a form of self-expression, but that is not all it is. Not everyone likes making or performing art, but the fact is that it brings people together. They can be brought together by their shared passion for it or by their shared hatred, but they are still connecting as they produce or experience art in any of its forms. I think these connections are the most important thing that art can offer. The definition of art varies depending on the discipline of the person defining it, because one’s discipline often has an influence over what something means to them. In terms of art, the etymology of the word is a “skill as a result of learning or practice,” and I think this definition would resonate the most with STEM-minded people, whereas if someone is a painter then they’ll think of painting as the form of art that they are most familiar with. This same idea applies to dancers, musicians, architects, etc. Art has many meanings, and it is woven throughout every aspect of our lives because of how many different types of it there are. This is why it is so often that art brings people together, because there’s so many opportunities for it. When I was considering examples of this, I found that our class’ blog was abundant with scenarios in which art encourages connecting with others.

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Why I Don’t Like History

History has always been one of those subjects that I didn’t like, and only recently have I started to question why this is. Is it that I don’t care about history, or do I just not like the way that it has been taught? I find it highly unlikely that I don’t care about history because it is something that permeates every subject of learning. History is just things that happened in the past, and all the knowledge we have today is built off of those things, so why is it that I haven’t enjoyed the subject itself?

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Expectations and Retrying Old Things

Coming into this class, I honestly didn’t know what to expect, and I think that ended up being beneficial to my experience with this course. I have always been a planner—I like to know all of the details of something I’m going to do to decide whether or not it is worth my time. But while this is how I have determined my decisions in the past, recently I have taken the liberty to be a bit more impulsive. When I was deciding what classes to take this semester I attempted to make the “perfect” schedule, but classes of course filled up fast as I was only registering as a sophomore. Initially, I was not going to take The Art of Steve Prince, even though I was interested in it. I did not know it could count towards my English major, and when I learned that it did I impulsively dropped another class so that it could fit into my schedule. Later, during drop/add week I impulsively added another class that I had not even considered taking until I saw that it had one open seat. It was a women and gender studies course, something I had wanted to take but didn’t think I would since I am not majoring or minoring in it. But I had room in my schedule, and I wanted to take it. I know for many students this way of choosing classes is normal, but for someone like me who has always planned everything out whenever given the chance, it was both liberating and intimidating.

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Art is Useless

I was recently reminded of a book I read in senior year of high school, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I enjoyed the book, and I love Oscar Wilde, but the arguments Wilde made in the preface to the book were ones I couldn’t agree with. Wilde talks about how art is useless and should not have anything to do with the artist. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:

“To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim”

“No artist desires to prove anything.”

“All art is quite useless.”

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I Spy

The things that Prince depicts in his artwork pertain to mature subjects but looking at his work also reminds me of my childhood. I used to play these “I Spy” games on the family computer in which the player simply tried to find and click on all of the items that were listed for the player to find. I’m not sure why 6-year-old me was so entertained by this, but I used to play for hours—just how I feel like one could view Prince’s artwork for hours and still make new discoveries.

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