Dangers of A Made Up Mind

To prepare for a class that’s supposed to be all about creativity, I probably did the worst thing I could ever do. I walked into the first day of class with my mind set. Last semester, I had two meetings with T and we had discussed the possibility of me focusing on the Michigan Student Experience for my Capstone project. I attached myself to this idea and shut everything else out, confidently explaining my idea to my classmates on the first day of class. I thought, “this is it. I am so lucky to have settled on an idea early on”. But now, I feel like I’m the last one to decide. 

It all started with our free-write about topics we were interested in. To be honest, I probably would’ve taken this assignment more seriously and tried to be a lot more creative if I hadn’t come in with such a closed mindset. Nonetheless, I was still able to write out some interesting topics that I referred back to when I was creating my 4 pitches for the class. 

I’m thankful for the pitch writing assignment because it forced me to consider a lot of important factors and to flesh out multiple ideas. In the process of creating the pitches, I realized that my idea about the Michigan Experience might be too big of an undertaking and would not have as much grounding in research as I had originally thought. My other ideas started to become a lot more appealing to me as I began to visualize how each route would look like. 

The first and second pitch revolved around my initial Michigan experience idea and were the easiest to write. When I first heard about the assignment, my plan was to write four different methods of executing the Michigan Experience idea. However, after writing two and exhausting the two types of formats I was interested in, I felt like I should consider some alternative ideas. Thus, I began to widen my scope. I thought about things that I was curious about, questions I wanted to answer. My last two pitch ideas were all driven by personal relevance and the topics were both questions I wanted to learn more about. After fleshing out these ideas, it became clear to me that the only part of the project I felt certain about for all of my ideas was the fact that I wanted to interview people. 

As I pitched my ideas in class, I began to notice that I focused a lot on my methodology for the projects, and not the actual topics themselves. I really want to create some type of short documentary or podcast for this project and I am so glad that there are so many resources on campus that can make this aspect of the project a reality. Going into the pitch process, I did not have a “favorite” topic. I really liked all of my ideas and wanted to listen to some of the feedback and ideas my peers had for me. I wanted to choose the topic that I would be able to execute the best. 

I was a little shocked by the fact that all of my commenters focused on my last topic- How to Measure Happiness. As they jumped in with ideas on how to expand this topic to include socioeconomic factors, religion, science and research, capitalism, and even the meaning of happiness, my own brainstorm process restarted as I started to think about how I could execute this project. The very next day I met another student in my Strategy course who was from Copenhagen, which was my inspiration for this topic, and I took this as a sign to pursue this topic for my project. She has already agreed to allow me to interview her for either my documentary or podcast. 

While I am excited to begin and to learn about even more resources on North Campus, I am a little bit nervous and feel daunted by this large assignment. I have no idea how I am going to pull everything together and I feel as if I have such grandeur hopes for the final project that I am afraid to disappoint myself and to not fulfill my vision. I suppose only time can tell. All I know is that moving forward, I will be conscious of my mindset and make sure that I never come to class again with a closed mind.

5 thoughts to “Dangers of A Made Up Mind”

  1. It’s so interesting that your process actually began with deciding on a methodology you were interested in rather than a topic. That has never been the case for me, and I’m struggling with the process of thinking through that aspect of my project right now.

    The topic you seem to have settled on sounds great, and probably fits really well into the scope of this class. I love the concept of paying attention to signs in the process of thinking through ideas. As I read the early development of this project in your own words, it sort of sounds to me like you could use the interviews you conduct to frame your research about factors that contribute to happiness (or a perceived lack thereof). It’s so exciting that you already have one lined up!

    Best of luck.

  2. I’m so excited to see this project come to fruition!! (Especially since I took that same positive psychology class in Copenhagen just a few weeks before you did!)

    I really admire the fact that you switched from this comfortable place of knowing your project plan and having things laid out and set up to exploring the unknown, a project that you have spent far less time preparing for but will suit your passions and interests better. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but I know it will be worth it in the end. Let me know if you ever want to compare positive psych notes 😉

  3. I definitely relate to going into something thinking I already have my ideas solidified, and then completely flipping what I had initially wanted to do. But these kinds of conversations definitely only add to all the thoughts you had before, so I’m glad your taking into consideration all the previous thoughts you had about college!

    I definitely think exploring the concept of happiness has multiple different routes to go down, and you could always narrow it by focusing on a specific demographic like college aged students (or contrasting different age groups). I think once you lock down all your talking points, you’ll definitely be able to use the accessibility of the podcast rooms or recording booths to your advantage! You got this and we’re only getting started and we’re always here to help you with any bumps in the road!

  4. Amy,
    It’s awesome that after some reflection you noticed that you cared more about your methodology rather than your topic, which allowed you to branch out and find something new/cool that you’re excited about. I am a huge fan of the “how to measure happiness” idea (and am willing to participate/help in any way you need). I think it’s important to take a step back and think about how long we actually have to pull the project together. We have so many resources (including each other) that are meant to guide us on a path to our polished final piece. Trust me, I feel your pain…I’m attempting to write a whole book this semester. Who does that? But, anyway, the best advice that I can give is to look at this as a marathon, not a sprint.

  5. I felt extremely overwhelmed after going to tour the DUDE my first time my junior year. It was slightly overwhelming and made it hard for me to focus on one thing creatively. By the time I felt the dude I wanted to make a dance, shoot a music video, make a song with my friends in the personal studio and create a poster all at the same time. I think with all the resources they can ultimately become a distraction if there is no goal in mind.For this class project and as far as keeping yourself “evenly-whelmed” I think its best to focus on what you want and what you want to get out of it and then look at the resources that can help you get to that point, rather than say “okay I have a lot of resources, but what do I do with them” because thats stressful. If you need any people to interview or any other help with your project I am more than happy to help. I think measuring happiness is such an interesting topic because there is no one right answer so it will be interesting to see different views and opinions on this topic.

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