Challenge Journal: Picking a Project

Picking a project is hard. I’ve forgotten how much self-doubt comes with the process. I usually think of something that I want to focus on, get excited about it, and then start overthinking how well I will accomplish it. I want my capstone project to be something that I can look back on in a few years with pride. I’ve enjoyed pursuing this minor over the last three years and this project should pay some patronage to that. At the moment, I am struggling to commit to a project pitch. I would love to do something on social justice, more specifically on the way linguistics impact defendants in the courtroom. However, I fear that I am biting off more than I can chew. Should I focus on something more personal? Something more creative and less academic?

This reminds me of the same struggle I had when deciding on my Gateway project. I remember this feeling of discomfort in committing to a semester long project. Back then, I was driven by telling such a personal story. I remember that I thought about my decision for my Gateway for a while before realizing that it was something I really wanted to do. I think that is the same thing that is happening now. I need to meditate on the idea for some time before feeling truly motivated to start creating. Something that helped me last time I felt this unsure was meeting with students who shared personal stories similar to mine. More specifically, students who had ill parents. There was something about talking about the issue with people who could resonate with it that made it feel real. Perhaps that is what I need to do for the Capstone Pitch. I am hoping to meet with a linguist to chat about how language has implications in social justice. I think having this conversation will spark some inspiration.

I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed and excited by the amazing pitches I’ve heard so far.¬†Anyone else unsure of their Capstone pitch yet?

2 thoughts to “Challenge Journal: Picking a Project”

  1. Hi Anna!
    Let me start by saying this: the struggle is REAL! I totally get it, and I understand your desire to pursue two project ideas. Below are some thoughts I had on your post. I hope they encourage you or aid you in your quest of choosing a topic!

    I felt like my Gateway and Capstone topics found me, instead of vice versa. It was a lot like how your Gateway project developed: you found yourself immersed in the topic, meeting with people whose circumstances were similar to yours. I love how you said the project became “real”. It’s sort of magical when you realize the urgency of your message and the desire to use it to help others, don’t you agree?

    My Gateway topic concerned the power of role models and the inspiration they bring to our lives. It was something that had been on my mind all last year, since I was going through a time where it became so normal for me to doubt myself, my abilities, and my future (and I’m still working on this, fyi!). Writing is such a therapeutic outlet, as I’m sure you agree, and so it was a relief to spill out my guts on paper and discuss something that I had been battling for a year.

    I’m so glad you’ll be meeting with someone who can provide some clarity into a potential topic! An approach that I think might be useful is to write maybe 500 words on both subjects and why they matter to you personally, and maybe even reflect upon past experiences that shaped your passion for them. I know you did this to an extent with your proposals, but maybe connecting to the nitty-gritty of the matters at hand will help. (Just keep asking yourself “why does this matter to me?” Sometimes it’ll relate back to a particular experience that you never considered before.) Through this exercise, perhaps you’ll find that one of the topics will grab you and then pursing your project will become a meaningful experience.

    Best wishes!

  2. Hey Anna! I’m in another section of capstone and totally related to your post. I also found picking a project to be hard because of how much of a commitment it felt like. For other classes usually a project will last a few weeks max. But for this, it’s your whole semester. And a culmination of your whole time in the minor in writing. The grand finale. So I definitely understand that pressure to create something meaningful that you truly feel motivated to create. Your topic about social justice and the way linguistics impacts defendants in the courtroom sounds really interesting. To touch on your questions about genre at the end of your first paragraph, I’m going to throw two questions back at you for you to think about that might help your decision making process:

    1) What kind of resources are out there on your topic? My suggestion would be to do some preliminary research to see what already exists or to gather inspiration. For me, I became excited about my topic and genre – more academic/interview based – once I realized all the resources I’d be able to pull from that I didn’t know existed before.
    2) What do you want to get out of it? Are you looking to express yourself? To learn about others? To learn from others? These were things I thought about when deciding my genre. I realized that I wanted to learn something or get insight into something through research that I was familiar with, but still had a lot to learn about.

    Hope this helps, and good luck!

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