It’s personal…

Initially, I had fears that my project which is essentially a bucket list, would not seem weighty enough for my capstone. It seemed that everyone was focusing on serious, important subject matters for their project, while mine seemed too surface level. I guess it just didn’t feel like it would have a place in the world without more context.

That’s when I realized that I would have to open it up, and myself, a bit more. I had to explain why I made the list. That meant that I had to delve back into the entire reasoning behind it, which is essentially a lowkey philosophy on life. It is also deeply personal and caused by things that have happened in my life. I knew that I didn’t want to dwell on them, nor did I want to write any more about the negative experiences (I wrote about them plenty in high school), but I realized that the reader would have no idea why this meant anything to me unless I showed them.

So I sucked it up, stopped being a baby, and talked about my life and what led to me to choose my capstone project. It wasn’t easy – I feel like when I write, I have to put myself into the mindset of what I’m talking about or it just won’t feel authentic. But, as many people pointed out, it needed to happen in order to create something meaningful.

Memoirs I’ve read don’t shy away from exploring the crummy parts – they don’t skim the surface and keep only the happy, light events/thoughts. They are gritty, they hurt, but they are powerful. The preface was my way of doing this, and I hope it gives context, relevancy, background, and significance to my piece.

I think what’s left for this project is to refine the narrative components. These do some of the work of the preface in that they provide substance to the seemingly fluffy.




2 thoughts to “It’s personal…”

  1. Dear Che—

    Thanks so much for sharing this post!

    I completely understand the desire to not write about the shitty negative things—especially if you’ve written about them in the past.

    A few weeks into my own project, I remember pausing and wondering: wait, why on Earth am I doing this to myself right now? This isn’t the first time I’ve written about my uncle’s suicide, and each time it’s hard, so… why again?

    In this post, I think you’ve answered a similar question for yourself: you’ve recognized that places of hurt or negativity can actually produce the most worthwhile, meaningful, and powerful writing.

    You mentioned that you didn’t want to “dwell’ on the deeply personal things that informed this project. I wonder, do you think there’s a difference between writing about a (negative) past and dwelling on a (negative) past? To me, writing might appear like dwelling—it is, after all, a means of focusing on something in a sustained way. But I guess I think of dwelling more as a sort of anxious-paranoia that sits without purpose. Conversely, I think of writing as a productive way of working through that anxious-paranoia—productive both in the sense that is produces something concrete (a piece of writing) and promotes critical thinking. In this sense, maybe, writing is the opposite of dwelling. It doesn’t tighten the knot, but loosens it; it locates meaning in the thing, rather than stewing in the emotion of the thing.

    I don’t know if this is how you’re thinking about it, but I definitely found this distinction helpful when deciding to write about my own personal-hard-complicated stuff.

    In any case, I look forward to reading your new preface!

  2. Dear Che–

    I thought the idea for your project wasn’t surface-level at all! I thought it was quite the opposite–you’re diving deeper into the layers of your personality, figuring out why you like going on all these adventures and collecting these experiences! I don’t think you should see your project like a Bucket List; I think it’s a tool, rather. I’m imagining a stressed-out student finding your project in a couple weeks (or months, or in ten years from now!) and realizing they maybe weren’t living their best life, and taking advice from your list, finding an adventure to set off on, and coming back a genuinely happier, more well-rounded person with a story to tell, even if their adventure just took an hour or so!

    You mentioned having to be more open with yourself, to discover WHY you wanted to create your project. I think this is super fascinating, and, to be frank, something I needed to do myself in my own project. I write that I don’t like being a music major, but I don’t think I delved deep enough into the WHY of why I don’t enjoy my major. I poked fun at some of the stuck-up kids, but I could’ve talked more about my insecurities. I think I’ll add some of those details when I go back to revise my site to put it on the SMTD’s Facebook page…

    Anyways, I really admire your honesty with yourself here! I wish I had it, too.

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