“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I’ve always enjoyed the winter. All the snow, holidays, bundling up (I much prefer winter clothing to summer clothing), sitting by a fireplace, hot chocolate. When my father passed away December 3rd five years ago, it changed the way I felt about this time of year and as a result I end up moving torpidly, almost coming to a complete stop. Life continues on whether I want it to or not so I inevitably end up feeling stressed to the point of not caring. Some things seem more trivial this time of the year while other things go up in value.
This semester has been one of ups and downs. I have come to better understand my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve started to make plans of action instead of just saying I will do something, it helps to specify. It is hard to point out specifics, but since the beginning of the year I know my thought processes and the way I present myself have changed. I want to say I have become more self-aware (I think blogging has played a major part in this) and its the little things that have changed about me; I understand edu-speak and even laugh at edu-jokes for crying out loud, clearly some things have changed.
As I talked about in a recent post, I have been over scheduled this semester. I have made commitments to various things and have questioned and questioned whether I have made the right choice. I’m still not sure if I know the answer or if I ever will know the answer, but I have made choices. This semester made me realize that I need to be responsible for my own decisions and make commitments based on what I want. Too often I commit to things that I have not thought through or based on what other people thought was best for me. I’ve become tired of playing the game of “doing what I think will make people happy”.
So I’ve taken some time to be selfish this semester (not that it has necessarily been a bad thing). I’ve chosen to spend time learning about things I wanted to instead of doing the task at hand, at least I was being intentional about some learning heh. There are many conclusions that I have come to during the semester and most of them aren’t true anymore. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and I can’t continue to do things the same way next semester, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been on the right track. Curiously, this semester has been a reminder and has made it clear to me why “theme park” education can seem very appealing (perhaps another blog post on that).
It is really hard for me to feel badly about this semester, even the downward turn in my GPA does not really bother me (don’t tell my mom!). There are invaluable lessons I have gained this semester and not just the ones that happen when you learn from your mistakes. I remember when I came to visit Mary Wash during the summer and went to one of Gardner’s Intro to New Media Studies classes, one moment that really stuck with me was Gardner’s ability to connect what one student had said at the beginning of class to something another student said towards the end of class. In seeing him make these connections (I have this funny mental image of Gardner pulling on two chords connected to giant boulders and him trying to bring the two chords together) I knew I wanted to be able to do that, I wanted to be able to see connections, I wanted to have my satellite turned outward looking to make connections. And this semester I have felt that little buzzer go off in my head more than ever as little moments connect up and give me that “I can’t sit still, I’m so excited!” sensation where I want to tell everyone how cool it is that I made these kind of connections (I am hopelessly dorky).
As this semester comes to a close and a new one starts I have some of the same fears going into it as I do most semesters. Fear that my habits will never change and that I’ll just be average and another rider on a theme park coaster. I have ambitious thoughts of double majoring. I’m worried about commitments that I have made that will ask a lot of me. At least this time I thought about what it meant before I made my decision.
The end of this blog post seems rather random, but in someways its the point I wanted to make (and always want to make). Although this may be a difficult time of the year for me and this semester has driven me crazy, it is in the insanity that I realize that a lot of it is not worth tearing myself apart to fix it all, sometimes being in the moment is the greater need. I’m very thankful for those many people who I know that make not only this time of the year easier, but have made my life infinitely better. Not every student gets to complain that their “real school” plans have failed, I’m lucky to have such a failure. There are many of you I would like to thank for continually inspiring and supporting me.
Yes, I have stumbled and fallen over this semester. But my thanks goes out to all of you that have been the snow absorbing the impact of what is usually a much harder fall. The winter is not so bad after all.