My capstone project is about Analytics, the field that I’m going into after graduation. While creating a informational site and breaking down analysts’ responsibilities, I’ve been able to learn more about my own thought processes. It’s been useful to identify steps and labels for actions that I do automatically and not always consciously. I can more pointedly identify what it is about analytics that I enjoy and what it is about analytics I find challenging.
Thinking about past assignments, I think there are a few areas where further guided exploration would have led to the same kind of self evaluation and reflection and realization. In my English 325 class, we wrote personal essays, and the first assignment was to record part of your life. We were asked to transcribe the recording and create a narrative essay.
I recorded a few different things, but settled on a conversation in which I was annoyed with my then boyfriend. It was called “How I Talk,” and it focused on the tone I used when I got frustrated. The essay ended up being a very honest view of a negative aspect of myself, but it was just that, a view.
I had highlighted a part of myself that I knew to be negative and problematic, but due to the nature of the assignment, I didn’t do anything further.
The first section of my essay was based in quotes and included little narrative detail:
“Yeah, why didn’t you just do it today?” I could hear myself talking down to him.
He didn’t say anything. I guess he knew I was right.
“I put my clothes in the dryer before I came out. So I’m gonna go back and see if they smell. We’ll see. I also don’t expect them to be dry. It was a pretty big load.”
“Jesus Alex,” I said.
He didn’t say anything for a little bit, and then he asked me about my day.
The second section of my essay was based on an internal monologue. I tried to put as little retrospective thought into this prose, because I wanted to preserve the truth of the recording and scene:
I think it was the way I talked to him. I should’ve responded like a girlfriend would. Be sympathetic. Or something. I was just in too deep, and when he brought it back up I couldn’t change my stance. I’m not going to coddle him. This is the way things are, and I’m not going to tell anyone differently. But I don’t think he’s mad at me; he’s never mad at me. And I’m not mad at him. That’s good at least.
What I chose to record had a lot of implications. About my personality, about my reactions, about my relationship, about what I thought about myself and the people around me. Ultimately, I ignored a lot of those implications. If I had the opportunity to unpack the recording further, I may have been able to write my way into some form of clarity. Moreover, I think that the narration would have been more impactful if it had been accompanied by other moving parts. I would have written other essays about other relationships in my life or about similar situations.
By reducing the scene to the bare bones of what actually happened, there is a kind of truth about myself that I revealed. But I think that retrospective thought would add a lot to this piece, as it is conversations like these that people rarely think about later. They seem inconsequential. Adding more parts and spending more time on this one conversation could add to its depth and significance. I could make this conversation more consequential.
The most rewarding thing about a class structured such as this, is that the length and depth of the projects allows you ample time to reflect on yourself, whether it be as a student, citizen, writer, or friend. A lot of different assignments would have benefitted me more if I were able to explore them further, but a self exploration would be the most interesting and perhaps overdue.