Challenge Journal 4: Wrap it Up

I have always struggled with conclusions. Not in the sense that I struggle to write them, but in the sense that they never actually CONCLUDE everything I said prior. I’ve talked about something similar in challenge journals in the past, but I’m bad at matching my ending words to the main point I’ve been making in all of the writing prior. I think its because usually the idea I have at the beginning of writing is gone by the end. It inspired what I was going to say, but the actual articulation and organization I had planned on ends up getting replaced by a deviant form. It is related, but its conclusions are different and its message is different.

Yet when I’m writing the conclusion, I write it as though I stuck with the original plan and everything panned out as expected. For example in my gateway project I wrote about when I went blind in my right eye in middle school:

When I was in seventh grade, a cascade of complications that began in November 2008 led to me going completely blind in my right eye within the next six months. Over the course of these months of pain and fear, my vision progressed to the point where I could barely see changes in color. I couldn’t go out in sunlight without the sensation of knives being jabbed into my eye. I couldn’t be in a brightly lit room without tears unknowingly streaming down my face and onto my shirt. I couldn’t wear contacts, so I wore glasses with oversized sunglasses on top. But eventually, the medication did the job. By the end of seventh grade I had regained almost all of my eyesight.

I proceeded to talk about how much this experience affected me and my family, particularly my relationship with my mom. We fought a lot as a kid, and I talked about how during this time I took out a lot of my fear and anxiety on her. I misplaced my worries as anger towards her, and it was really straining our relationship.

As I continued writing, I got more and more cheesy as I went along. I started talking about how I used this experience to grow as a person and learn how to be kinder to my mother:

Last year I got caught for sneaking out of the house. My mom was furious. She normally manages to speak kindly to me no matter what, but her words were biting and cold— she could not believe that I broke her trust. And I felt the anger bubbling up like it always does; “You’re way too strict, I’m 18 years old for God’s sake, and I deserve some goddamn freedom!” I wanted to yell these words and more at her. But I paused. It wasn’t that I directly thought about seventh grade and the strain my words to my mother had placed on our relationship. It was far more subconscious than that. I paused, and considered if blowing up at her was worth it. And more than that, I let myself question if she was really to blame. That half-second of contemplation changed the way I responded completely. My tone was soft, and I said clearly and calmly, “Mom, you know how I feel about your rules on curfew. But arguing with you about that is not going to make this better. I should never have broken your trust like that; I know how important it is to you. I’m so sorry. I know that what I did was wrong.”

Originally, I ended it shortly after this with a quick blurb about how I had changed and was a better person now. Reading it back now, I hate it. I don’t like that my default is to come to the quick and easy conclusion, because its not true. Our relationship isn’t 100% perfect and I don’t treat her like gold every time I interact with her. This is something I’m struggling with now in my capstone project, because I’m getting to the point where I need to wrap everything up, and Im trying to steer clear from the conclusion that I would have made at the beginning of all of this. There have been enough direction changes in what I’m talking about that the conclusion needs to reflect those, not what I had thought early on.

In that gateway essay, I ended up adding some paragraphs to steer away from the cheesy ending a bit:

Talking to my mom about this has brought many of the specific memories back to the surface, and I’ve realized that while I do still snap at her too often and talk to her in a tone that should not be directed towards a mother, I am more thoughtful. I realize that she is emotional and sensitive, and although too often I am cold and thoughtless, I sometimes think before I act. Not always. Not every time. But enough that I am confident that the lessons I learned have affected how I respond to challenges and hard times.

It’s the same basic idea, bit it’s quantified. That’s the part I’m trying to keep in mind now for the conclusion of my project. It’s okay to make an argument and conclusion that you know isn’t all encompassing, as long as you articulate that. If you state the limits of the argument you’re making it makes it more believable, even if it is cheesy.

3 thoughts to “Challenge Journal 4: Wrap it Up”

  1. Hi Jessyca!
    I just got your comment on my post and thought that I should read your thoughts on conclusions! The idea in the last paragraph about quantifying your uncertainties really strikes me as refreshing. Most of our projects can’t be wrapped up in a bow, and there are still a lot of things we don’t know and ways that we will inevitably change our minds. All of our arguments have limits, and it’s nice that you’ve articulated that here. Good luck!
    Emily

  2. Jessyca,

    My most recent challenge post was about the same topic: the dreaded conclusion. It really is so bothersome that we have been taught to make a conclusion that ties nicely in a bow. That is not always the case, and I have finally gotten to a point in my writing where I’m okay with that. In my conclusion, I actually include how my questions weren’t answered and that’s okay. I needed more resources that are not accessible to me right now, or maybe ever. A good technique I use when I am about to tackle the conclusion is to take a few days to step away from my writing and just think. Then, when I finally get to sitting down to write it, it starts to flow out on the screen. I’m not saying I’m a conclusion wizard, but this has definitely helped me if you are struggling with it! Hope this helps.

    Jenn

  3. Hey Jessyca,

    So I think basically our entire class is blogging about conclusions, myself included. My problem is kinda different, just because I’m trying to match the theme of my site rather than accounting for a change in my view on a particular subject. But the problem you’re describing happens to me all the time in academic papers. I get 75% through and realize I’m arguing something completely different than my thesis. But I think it’s good to trust your gut.

    I really like Jenn’s suggestion of including how some questions weren’t answered. And maybe you could try opening a Word doc and just typing your natural thoughts about the subject, then edit it later to see if it fits (kinda like that app T made us use in Gateway).

    Either way, I agree with you, it’s ok to acknowledge the conclusion isn’t all encompassing.

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