Capstone Challenge Journal 4: When to Reflect

            Showcase has come and gone, and with it my concerns over finishing my project in time to be able to show anything at all. Despite my best efforts to procrastinate until the bitter end, the project is finished, and a semester’s worth of work now rests quietly in my odd corner of the internet. All there really is to do now is reflect, a process that can easy become a stressor itself. Did I work hard enough on this section? Did I actually make a clear point on this part? Will anything I’ve done actually matter? If looking over my gateway project months upon completing it are of any indication, I can only assume I’ll return to my capstone and feel the weight of everything I failed to do with it rather than appreciate what it was I accomplished. I know this about myself, and as such I need to be cautious about how I direct my reflection, lest it be little more than me giving myself a hard time.

            To this end, the past work that this post brought me to thinking about was a paper I wrote for a course I took on Shakespeare. It’s a piece where I compared Lady Macbeth from Macbeth with Emilia from Othello, both the wives of villainous characters, and both with something of a hand in their husband’s villainy. I’d go into greater detail about my claims, except, well, for one thing they’d probably make for a boring blog post, and more importantly because I don’t actually remember them in detail. You see, I don’t actually have this essay anymore. It’s nowhere to be found on my computer, nor in the cloud or on my google drive, or on old canvas pages or in old backups of my computer. I’ve spent a good deal of time trying to recover it, but it’s seemingly been erased, and I have no idea why.

            And that’s just it, my memory of this piece is all I have left of it. My reflective ability, as far as that work goes, can only surround what I remember and what effect it had for me in the class – which is to say it got me an A in the class, so that’s a pretty positive thing to reflect on. While I certainly wish I could read the piece again just to see it, I understand that a part of why I feel so strongly about it is because I no longer have the ability to over-examine it. It served its purpose then disappeared, forcing me to reflect on what it left behind rather than what it actually was.

            This isn’t to say that I’m going to delete my capstone now that it’s over with, but it is a necessary reminder of how much the work itself can change in the writer’s eyes after the work has served its purpose and now just stands as forever embodying that purpose, unable to change even as the writer moves on and develops a more mature understanding of the work’s subject matter. Having the actual thing in front of you can be stifling in this maturation, the writer getting bogged down by the reality of their work rather than in the ideas they represent. With that in mind, I’m going to step back from my capstone for a while, so that I may more easily see the good in it rather than focus so much on its shortcomings.

One thought to “Capstone Challenge Journal 4: When to Reflect”

  1. Thanks for the useful insight Henry. I have a similar experience whenever I write something new. Because we’re still students whose writing isn’t yet fully developed, we tend to dismiss previous works entirely since we can plainly sense that they are inferior to what we are now capable of. But I learned that I never know I might want to refer back to them for inspiration, not so much from the writing techniques I sued as from the mental conceptions I used to have while writing them, however inarticulate they turned out. Some things we’ve known all along, and we are studying just to be able to communicate them.

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