Wholly Unfit, But Willing

If any of you follow me on Twitter you know that I spent most of the summer waiting to go back to school. In fact I’m pretty sure I spent more time communicating with people from the Mary Wash community then I did with a lot of my friends from home (sorry guys!). Missing people in this way may seem normal for some (or most, probably) but for whatever reason I’m rarely the kind of person that fears loosing connections with people or rather I’m rarely hurt by loosing a connection with someone. So, it was strange being so compelled to spend countless hours on the tubes, waiting for the next tweet or blog post. My mom started to get a little annoyed at how many hours I was spending on the internet. Thinking about how compelled I was to be part of this community I tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together but I have been coming up short. You see, I’m having an identity crisis.

So let me take you back to the “beginning”. Applying for colleges was a highly painful experience and could probably be used as guide on what not to do. I had to be forced to apply to at least four (which is exactly the amount I applied to). Sure I wanted to go to college for “the experience”, but that experience was just some vague and abstract concept I had gleaned from a few conversations with people and a few movies and tv shows. In some ways I did not want to go to college because the thought of another four years of classes did not appeal to me at all, in fact I really hated the idea. I’ve never been a very good student, usually from lack of effort. My goal was to get by with the minimum amount of effort and add in a good amount of procrastination. Horrible study habits, a big problem with procrastination, and a general attitude of caring very little about school would sum up my middle and high school experience. I even contemplated joining the Army (I took the ASVAB and met with a recruiter once) and then work on a degree later. Lucky for me I have a family who cares very much about me and in many ways their opinions were the deciding factor for why I went to Mary Washington.

As I entered college I was feeling wholly unfit to be there and very out of sorts.

Recently, I have had a couple of conversations with various people on identity and how in coming to a new place you end up establishing a new identity, whether its very similar to the old one or something new, a new identity is established. This new identity is formed by your past identity and in what the new community draws out of you. I know that many people perceive me far differently than how I see myself. A lot of me is still stuck in my past identity, even though I have unknowingly been creating a new one.

And in my search to understand what is going on I have come to a biblical story. Being a disciple of a rabbi was only for the best of the best. When Jesus was gathering his disciples, he did not go to the temple and call forth learned men, people of great wealth, those who were best fit to be followers of a rabbi. No Jesus’ disciples were a ragtag bunch, among them a tax-collector and fishermen. Despite being not suitable as disciples Jesus saw something in them and during their discipleship they created new identities as followers of Christ. Jesus drew something out of them they didn’t know existed and they ended up changing the world.

Speaking now of the life of the mind, the caravan, the journey, whatever you want to call it, I still feel freshly called (and found). I have just stepped out of the boat, I have just put down all my things and started to walk away from my former life. I’m still unsure of what I’m supposed to do. Still very connected to my past but seeing great possibilities in front of me and a lot of hope that I will be transformed. I’m sure Jesus’ disciples often wondered why they were chosen (during good and bad times) as I often wonder how I got on board the caravan. Why am I so privileged to be part of a community that is changing the way we learn and think about education? I am not particularly special, definitely not the best of the best. There are of course many answers to this question (the technology revolution, leading right up to web 2.0 among the answers).

I’m not so concerned with answers though, as it has been said, “life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved”. And this post may just be a rehashing of ideas I have spoken about in previous blog posts (I’ve heard iteration is a good thing though). I’ve taken some odd comfort in these thoughts though, typing them out slowly and with much revision. Have I come to any new conclusions? I’m not sure. Should I be more concerned with who I am or who I am becoming? I know those questions are deeply intertwined.

I know my life is radically changing but, it is so hard to grasp what is changing and where that change is taking me it is sometimes easier to not think about it. I’m not sure how to end this post (or what its coherency is at this point). I guess I can just reiterate what has been the (sort of) main point in this post.

I am wholly unfit, but I am willing. Consider yourselves warned.

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6 Responses to “Wholly Unfit, But Willing”


  1. 1 Jeff September 12, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    “I am wholly unfit, but I am willing. Consider yourselves warned.”

    Now that should be the first bumper sticker on the caravan of learning. [Yes, even before the one about Jim….]

    Oh yeah, and by the way, it is posts like these that make clear to the rest of us on the caravan why it is so important to have you along with us.

  2. 2 redbaiters September 13, 2007 at 12:23 am

    Shannon,

    I love the idea here of being part of a rag-tag bunch and I love your honesty about classes and school. I think the way you lay yourself out in your blog is awesoem. I think your ideas of moving between conventions and spaces and identities in this post is powerful one. Identities are always changing, we are a rag-tag bunch and need to stay as such for as long as we can so that we continue to push each other -but this will change. It has to, but in fact by identifying with something, by believing in it -we change it and ourselves simultaneosuly. I don’t *believe* in WordPress and I don’t *believe* in genius, but I firmly believe in people and struggling together to change the ways we rame how power, learning, and access are a beautifully complex triangle that we need to problematize and re-imagine while do everything we can to make these tools freely available to as many folks as we can.

    I agree that there are no answers, just too many mistakes and a few victories won through comraderie and hard work. In short, who is “wholly fit” to challenge congealed assumptions about why and how we learn? No one, which kinda levels the playing field a bit and allows certain communities to grow in-between and in spite of classes, family life, and more general concerns.

  3. 3 Jerry September 13, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Willingness is one of the most important gifts anyone can have. No doubt that willingness can bring all sorts of problems, uncertainty, embarrassment, etc. if it is misdirected. But willingness is at the heart of anything worthwhile – how can it not be integral to any kind of change, any kind of growth, any kind of accomplishment? Willingness is risk, and from that risk can come disaster or triumph, but nothing changes for good or bad without it.

    We need to develop this culture of willingness – and you are an important part of showing us how. Thanks for the post.

  4. 4 Rebecca September 13, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    A very good church friend of mine directed me to your blog.

    You are fortunate to be on this path at such a young age. I was in my late 30s before I started to feel what you are feeling, though I am a born and raised Christian. My advice to you — don’t fight it. Turning control of your life over to God is both the hardest and the easiest thing to do. But once you do it everything seems to make sense. You begin to see things with 20-20 vision and hear things in high-def surround sound. Unfortunately you’ll probably never truly understand where you’re being led. So your comment “it is so hard to grasp what is changing and where that change is taking me it is sometimes easier to not think about it” is right on. Don’t think about it. Just be. And missing your connections at school over the summer means you have built community around you. That’s the real secret of life.

    BTW – I certainly hope you’re studying journalism at MW. As a recent convert to that noble profession (from human resources) I can certainly see your gift after reading one post.

    Enjoy the journey!

  5. 5 bill September 15, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Warned, yes. Scared off, no.


  1. 1 Gardner Writes » Blog Archive » Q: Are we not worthy? Trackback on September 13, 2007 at 9:06 am

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