As I said in the blog post, “Who Can Help With This Burnout,” I either know what I’m doing or I can stumble along. I started this semester with a mix of the two; moving clumsily through the things I didn’t understand, in a means to understand them, and just going about, doing the things I know how to do. The upside to this is that I can see some personal growth as I learned and kept going. The downside is that it took a lot more work than I was expecting and I didn’t plan for the eventual exhaustion that stemmed from that. The lack of planning led me to the fear of failing because I felt too tired and confused to keep going. Continue reading “Stumbling Along”
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? Continue reading “Independence? Freedom?!”
As creators, we do not have the capacity to control the way people think. Everyone has free will to think and believe what they want to. This can make publishing works difficult because there is always that fear of being judged or misunderstood. Whenever anything is released to the public, whether it be a painting, an article, or a book, it is essentially left at the mercy of the beholder. The human mind is a vast place and it has the capacity to interpret and distort things in many different ways. But as Dr. McCoy says in the class syllabus, “You never know how your story might change the world for someone, especially someone who might be struggling… “ and isn’t that why some of us write or create art to reach out to other people who may be thinking the same thing and help others work through what they are feeling? Even if they come to a different (but not wrong) conclusion then the author had intended, a spark has been ignited that gets readers thinking. Through reading The Broken Earth trilogy and getting the opportunity to discuss in groups big and small during this semester, I have realized how diverse people’s perspective can be even though we are all reading the same text. Everyone has a different backstory that has led them to this moment. Everyone has different priorities and things they care about. This makes it so that different people can interpret the same writing many different ways. Continue reading “Every Opinion is Valid”
I walked out of the very first meeting of this class at the beginning of the semester imagining myself in a situation that I knew I could understand:
You’re standing in front of a soccer goal. The ball is planted indifferently on the 12 yard penalty kick line. You have a 50/50 chance to score. The only obstacles in your path are the goalkeeper, and your own mind. It’s the same thing for everyone who has ever taken a penalty kick in soccer. Anyone from the whole team that took a penalty kick right now would have the exact same ball inflation, the exact same ball location, and the exact same chance. You can feel the fear of failure in your chest. You know the goalkeeper is good; it’s going to be difficult to be fully successful, but you know you are very capable. Yet you still can’t move. The few seconds of pure immobility before you decide to take your shot is terrifying. Every possible factor and outcome calculates through your mind before you even shift the weight of your feet on the ground. The second you get into position to strike the ball is the most vulnerable moment you’ll experience, the moment when your fight or flight instinct kicks in. But you progress, despite your fear. You take a step, kick the ball, and follow through. You walk back to the bench where the rest of your team waits for you, and you know they’ll all pat your back and say “good job” no matter the outcome.
Before starting this assignment, because I genuinely did not know how to start it and needed some time to procrastinate, I decided to look back a bit. I started at the beginning, a very good place to start I am told. Rereading the syllabus for this class was a lot like rereading Jemisin’s novels; I now could see the clues that were being left right from the beginning.
To consider the array of subject matter and momentum throughout the semester feels both daunting and ominous when revisiting much of the material I have written down within the caverns of my notes, the archives via my blog posts, along with the inclusion of the thinkING essay and class discussions among many. The whole essence of reflecting on the course as a whole, as previously mentioned – is daunting. I say this not only due to the peculiar thematic elements present through the reading material during the past few months, but areas where I’d otherwise not think to consider viewing or providing any attention towards the content in question. To start the class off through a talk of paper made from rocky minerals and the pondering question of whether or not a geode is a rock brought forth an incertitude where I was quite unfamiliar with. In some instances, I am still unfamiliar, but in a rather alternative form of unfamiliarity. I do not see myself becoming well-acquainted with geological elements and terms in the coming future, but I am more of an acquaintance now than where I was originally. Whether that is a good or bad thing is debatable, and I suppose that makes for an interesting challenge.
I had mixed feelings about this class after our first couple of sessions at the beginning of the semester. First, I was excited: I had not read many science-fiction books before, and thought the topic sounded fascinating and could not wait to enjoy my reading for the semester. I also really liked the idea of blogging for the class, as I have always enjoyed conversational writing, as well as the opportunity to read my peers’ work. However, I remember being confused about two things: first, the midterm paper, which “need not be an argument-driven paper.” I wondered how a person could write a paper without a central argument as its basis. However, I pushed this thought to the back of my mind and decided I’d worry about it closer to the midterm. I mainly was baffled by the final reflective essay—here it is!—and could not believe a professor could allow her students to self-assess their paper and have that grade be worth twenty percent of their final average. It is only now that I realize I had so much to learn: my mind, which is constantly concerned with grades and striving for A’s in all my classes, (as Dr. McCoy hinted at in office hours once this semester, I am a perfectionist), could not yet comprehend that self-assessing a paper in an effort to further my academic growth could be more important than Dr. McCoy handing me a letter grade to evaluate my work. Another thing I did not realize at the beginning of the semester was how beneficial the blogging process would be to my growth: I originally looked at the blog assignment as a chance to have fun with the text and converse with my peers, but did not think that I would greatly improve as a reader and writer through the task. Now, I believe it is because of the blogging process and the feedback I received all semester that I have been able to develop and improve as a reader, writer, and most importantly, as a thinker, more than I have ever done so from one class over my two and a half years at Geneseo. In an effort to reflect upon changes in my “learning and outlook over time,” as is referred to in the Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education, I am going to look through and discuss my blog posts and experience writing the midterm paper for this class. A common thread in all of my blog posts is how I applied my reading of Jemisin’s trilogy to current issues, and used it to think about and further my understanding of real world problems in my writing. I think that right about the time of the midterm paper was when I made a breakthrough in terms of greatly improving my “thinking” during the semester: after meeting with Dr. McCoy and working through my frustrations about the paper, I learned to defy writing conventions (such as always writing argument-based papers), which helped me learn more about what I actually write about. By being able to write without set conclusions and arguments, I was able to learn and explore more than ever before, and form ideas about how to further foster my academic improvement. Continue reading “Learning to Think(ING)”
While I rushed to complete the required amount of blog posts in the week before they were due, I found myself wondering why it had taken me the entire semester to finish the assignment, and Dr. McCoy prompted me to think about this even deeper. Why do I procrastinate? Why do I repeatedly box myself into stressful time constraints? Why do I find myself projecting the frustration that this procrastination creates onto the class itself—especially when it’s one like this, that I actually enjoy? If I start with my earliest memories of procrastination, I find that my abilities for time management have not improved very much at all. I’ve always been one to keep my parents and sister waiting when it’s time to go somewhere, and I’ve always been one to put off work to the last possible moment. There are at least three years in a row that I remember finishing summer work for high school English classes in the early morning hours of our first day back. It didn’t only make my work of a lesser quality than I had the ability to provide, but it made me tired for my first day of school, and thus was probably detrimental to first impressions with my new teachers.
Likewise, it seems that I’ve always had trouble sticking with decisions that I’ve made. Much like people who form New Year’s resolutions and find their determination petering out by the end of January, I often find myself second-guessing, and ultimately changing my mind. For example, I came into Geneseo as a biology major and music minor on the pre-veterinary track, hoping to eventually make my way into Cornell. But by the end of my first semester, I found myself wondering whether this was really the path I was meant to be on. From the age of five, I’ve always had an intense love for animals (although I’m pretty allergic to almost all of the furry ones), and I always thought that being a veterinarian was the best way for me to maintain a connection to them while also helping them. By my sophomore year of college, however, I had switched not only my major and left the veterinary track, but I had also switched my minor. While reflecting on all of this, I find myself asking: What caused my change to the English major and to the sociology minor? And what made me give up a lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian? On another note, how do I combat the habitual behavior of poor time management? And what’s the reasoning for my constant procrastination-stress cycle, anyway?
It was a typical Wednesday morning when my morning ritual began: get dressed; grab my morning cup of coffee and begin my commute to campus. It’s not unusual to see me rambling out the door, my hair dripping wet from the 10 minute shower I managed to squeeze in, aggressively holding onto a series of sheets of papers all while avoiding the hot splatters of coffee exploding everywhere because like always, I forgot to close my thermal shut. This is me as a student and for some time, I let it be the only thing I was. Continue reading “What the F*uck is Going on?”
I have an obsessive personality. My dad attributes it to the ADHD that runs in our family; I am not sure if I believe him (though our work patterns are similar), but when focused, I can work at 110%, ignoring my own needs to accomplish my goal. On the other hand, if I am not focused, nothing can possibly get done, at least not in an efficient, timely manner, and it feels like torture. I have gotten very good at regulating this behavior after a while; my days are very regulated and task-oriented so that I can more easily redirect this obsession from, for example, spending hours upon hours playing Pokemon Soul Silver on an old DS to actually doing something that is productive and helpful (this is also the reason why I absolutely cannot have any games on my phone). I think that’s why blog posts are easy for me – I can just find something I am interested in and let my brain do its thing. A prime example of this is the very first blog post I wrote for this class on Immanuel Velikovsky. I googled the term “Veliskovskyan,” as is written in the introduction to Apocalypse by Amos Nur, and immediately needed to know more. In this case, my obsession seized upon how outlandish his theories were and at that point, it was easy to sit down and not move from my desk until three hours and 1200 words were done. Other examples of these include the ones I wrote on geophagia and the uncanny valley. In these cases, Octavia Butler’s “Positive Obsession” is spot-on in its analysis of the better side of obsessive mindsets: “I saw positive obsession as a way of aiming yourself, your life, at your chosen target” (129). In this way, obsession works very well for me in terms of productivity. Of course, perfectionism likes to intervene, so I never feel good about this work, but that is beside the point. Obsession rules my life to an extent that is perhaps more than I’d like to admit, and it certainly has affected my experience with this course and with the Broken Earth trilogy. Continue reading “Positive (?) Obsession*”