As I’m sitting outside anxiously awaiting a phone call that will determine whether or not I have a job, frantically tallying up my points, and dreading my upcoming graduation from Michigan, I feel there is no better time than now to reflect upon not only my Minor in Writing experiences, but also on my time in undergrad. I’ve wished for this time in my life to come as quickly as it possibly could, but now that it’s here, I almost wish it wasn’t, which is something I’ve noticed a lot about life. I can’t imagine not waking up to go to my classes next week, or maybe ever again. I pitied the people who have graduated already and tweet or post on Facebook how much they wish they were back in Ann Arbor, sleeping in, going out to the bars, or getting late night food at some hole in the wall pizza place. I used to hope that by the time I graduated I would have gotten all of that out of my system. Now I’m not so sure that I won’t be feeling those same exact things that they did after I graduate. If it’s true about what they say that the “best years of my life haven’t even happened yet,” then there must be something I don’t quite understand yet about growing up, because I can’t imagine that my life, and the people that I share it with, could get much better than this.
Not to sound too cliché, but writing has taught me a lot about how to deal with these kinds of feelings – how to articulate them, understand them, and share them with others. A really wonderful professor told me one day that he truly believes that he cannot think clearly about something until he writes it all down and has analyzed the numerous things that he would never have been able to before writing it. I never would’ve thought that to be true until I completed my final portfolio project and my essay on Beyoncé’s feminism and my own feminism. This project, and the Capstone class more specifically, taught me so much more about myself than I ever would have been able to grasp on my own. I can honestly say that this last semester of my senior year was quite possibly the most life-changing times in my whole life. Not just because it was the last semester of my senior year, but because of the things I was forced to study, analyze, and write about, most of which were my own personal choice – hardly any guidelines from academia, which as you know from my evolution essay, is something that I appreciate when I get the chance to write. My own autonomy.
I have learned about so many different facets of my life throughout the classes that I have taken and the professors and peers who have helped me along the way. For example, in my English 473 class, we studied Midwestern literature and all of the themes that go along with it. Growing up in the Midwest, I didn’t really pay much attention to the mindset or ideology or stereotype that is often inflicted upon us. I was just a sweet Midwestern girl who often dreamed of one day moving on to bigger and better things somewhere on the East or West coasts. Little did I know that this thought process is something that is often reflected in Midwestern literature, and can sometimes fuel incredibly long research papers about what it means to be from the Midwest, what it means to write about it, and what kinds of stereotypes do we reinforce when we play into the Midwestern mindset. It wasn’t meant to be a sociology class, but it made me self-reflect on the ways in which I have allowed the place where I grew up, the Midwest, to shape me. Now, I’m sure that’s fairly true anywhere you go in the United States, or perhaps even the world, but it was such a strange phenomenon to witness these different Midwestern writers perfectly encompass the sometimes underlying themes that people portray in the Midwest.
In Writing 400, I learned even more about myself than I was probably ready to learn. Since finishing my final project on Beyoncé, I have noticed a very real transformation in the ways that I think about my own personal representation and my own feminism, along with feminist projects in general. I was most surprised to learn so much about black communities and their experiences with feminism, and how it is totally not the same as what I’ve known to be “white feminism.” I always had this picture in my mind of a large sisterhood of women who are all fighting together to demand equal rights and opportunities for women all over the United States, and the world. What I didn’t realize was that women all over the world don’t all want the same things, which seems like an obvious things to accept. Black women are fighting against the stereotype that they present an animal-like sexuality, while white women are trying to find more productive ways to embrace their own sexuality. Marriage, also as an example, means different things among different communities of women. And finally, I’ve become determined to explore the ways in which feminism isn’t just for females – in order to make positive and drastic changes in our culture, it must be a joint effort among all people in it. These things that I’ve come to learn about Beyoncé, different feminist projects, and myself, would not have been possible without writing and analyzing it for this final Capstone project, and I’m so grateful that was given the option to write about this topic.
As for future plans, I am still awaiting the phone call from my potential employer. In fact, I just got an email from her that said she was so busy today and won’t be able to give me a final answer until Monday – the waiting game continues. I hope to move to Chicago and start a new adventure there. The self-confidence in my education and myself would not have been possible without incredible peers, friends, professors, and family. Thank you so much for anything, big or small, that you may have contributed toward my personal development as a writer, a person, and a Beyoncé lover.