As I skimmed the titles of hundreds of research projects, occasionally clicking to a subsequent page or backtracking to the previous when I hit a dead end, I tried to find an actual trend in what it was that piqued my interest. My eyes flashed over thousands of words–some of which sparked a pang of curiosity within me, others which made me feel actively annoyed, and many more that my brain seemed to process with no emotion attached whatsoever.
It’s kind of a strange thing, when you think about it to an exhausting point. The words I read were no more than lines on a computer screen, but still they could make me feel such an interesting range of emotions. Words by themselves mean nothing, but attach to them the cultural construct of meaning and they can transform into the most powerful tool known to man, capable themselves of transforming individuals and even whole societies.
Throughout my 21 years of life, I have constantly been defining myself by using (or purposely excluding) certain words; the right combination of them, I’ve hoped, would attach the type of meaning to my person that I sought after. While there’s always some flux in terms of the particular words used for this purpose, it seems that a select few must be preserved throughout my life in order to truly develop a consistent identity–a characteristic which appears to be essential to lead a fulfilling life. When I eventually pick a topic for the Capstone Project (a project which will represent the culmination of my work as an undergraduate student and which I hope to be able to have with me throughout the rest of my life), I want to ensure that it is focused on one of these core ideas that I will choose to base my lifetime values on. Discovering what exactly the bank of values I have to work with to achieve this end, however, may be much more difficult than can be put into words.