IT’S DONE! But is it ever really done?

Gosh, this title encapsulates so many parts of my life right now. This has been quite a strange senior year for so many reasons. For starters, I did not expect to be embarking on a capstone project that I would turn into a published novel. I mean sure I wanted to create something I was proud of, but I did not expect to uncover something so meaningful to me that I wanted to share it with the whole world (beyond my website of course). The showcase is tomorrow and I can’t help but keep adding to and editing my website. I am experiencing a serious sense of “this can’t really be done… can it?”

This is the theme of senior year. We are graduating and moving on to bigger and (hopefully) better things. I will be living on my own in Manhattan and taking on THE big city. Okay, that’s dramatic I have lived on Long Island my whole life and I lived in Manhattan with my best friend last summer so this isn’t some new uncharted territory that I have never explored, but STILL. ALL BY MYSELF! Now that, is new.

College has been a learning experience. For many more reasons than just that we learn in our the classroom. I have learned a lot about myself and the people I choose to surround myself with (and not surround myself with). I also have learned to explore different things than I already know I like.

This capstone project has allowed me to explore myself intimately and reflect deeply. I am very grateful for all that this university has brought me over my 4 years here, especially the MiW.

A very special thank you to Ray for supporting and encouraging me through my gateway and my capstone and allowing me to truly grow in ways I never would have imagined, both as a writer and as a person.

Capstone Challenge Journal 3: Editing

Everything to this point has been easy for me. Sure I had some writer’s block here and there and it was time-consuming to take on 15 chapters, plus intro and conclusion… however, it was easy.

Editing. Editing is hard. I feel there are so many ways to edit something I have a hard time deciphering which would be the most effective and successful for my final product. I have had to reflect on what exactly this project was made for in the first place, and what it has taught me along the way of writing it. The formatting was a front-heavy challenge, but I committed to a form and have gone with it thus far. I believe it has worked well for me and I hope it is not too overwhelming for people to fully immerse themselves in the content.

I am starting to worry people will be waiting for the point in the beginning couple of chapters, but hoping they read far enough that it actually becomes useful and relevant to them. I guess the real worry here is selling the reader on their time being well-spent reading my content.

And thus, we begin editing.

Capstone Challenge Journal 2

The writing games have begun. My project is two-fold in that there is a personal storytelling component and an analytical narrative component. Originally starting this project I figured the analytical narrative would be the easiest to write as it is the most interesting aspect of this to me, however, in me experience thus far it has been quite the opposite. While the personal storytelling has been hard to think back on, it has been easy to write about. Whereas, when it comes to the analytical component, I find myself more stuck. I believe this roadblock is because reflecting on these experiences analytically will make my feelings about them more real, which can be tough to deal with when they are emotions I oftentimes try to forget about. All in all, I do think this will be a therapeutic experience for me when everything is all done and I look back on it.

On a dryer note, I have created my website. I say dryer because I am not a very creative person. I find the content producing aspect of this to be the easiest while I wish the website would have just made itself. After 4 hours of obsessing over what would be the perfect design for this project, I think I am pretty happy with where everything landed. It is coming together nice with complementary colors working in my favor and the flow of where the content will live seems to be productive for the reader. 

As I continue on this journey, I know I will face more challenges, however, I am excited to tackle this current challenge of analytical reflection in the coming weeks.

Capstone Challenge 1

The beginning of the Capstone journey was intimidating to say the least. I wanted to choose a topic that not only would keep me engaged and entertained the entire semester, but would also invigorate a conversation within a larger audience. I have landed on the topic with these three driving questions:

  1. What effects does gymnastics have on mental health, specifically anxiety, and sexual assault?
  2. Is the advertising surrounding the sport portraying the sport in a problematic light?
  3. Are the cultural norms connected to gymnastics the root of the problem?

These such questions will allow for an intersection of mental health, sexual assault and the sport of gymnastics. This is something that not only I am passionate about, but I connect with personally. I find this to be an important and relevant societal conversation that I am looking forward to exploring. I am joyful as I begin to think of the proclamations I will be able to make and the voice I will be given in this conversation. I think this is a hot topic in society as of right now, and especially in the gymnastics world. Too many people have too close of ties to make bold statements without treading tumultuous water, whereas I feel these statements need to be made. I think this would stretch beyond just the gymnastics world, however, since such a large portion of society was invested in the Nassar case which was heavily surrounding this topic. I am particularly interested in this topic because it not only would be a positive self-exploration for me personally, but I think it has a possibility of being extremely conducive for positive change in the gymnastics world once it is put out into the world.

Quotes from Strayed that strayed in my mind

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. The healing – the genuine healing, the actual real down-on-your-knees-in-the-mud change- is entirely and absolutely up to you.”

“You get to define the terms of your life.”

“Your light. The one that goes blink, blink, blink inside your chest when you know what you’re doing is right. Listen to it. Trust it. Let it make you stronger than you are.”

“People who decided simply to live their truth, even when doing so wasn’t simple. Each and every one of them had to courage to say, This is who I am even if you’ll crucify me for it.”

“Trust yourself. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.”

“Nobody is going to give you a thing. You have to give it to yourself. You have to tell us what you have to say.”

“The only way you’ll find out if you “have it in you” is to get to work and see if you do. The only way to override your “limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude” is to produce. You have limitations. You are in some ways inept. This is true of every writer, and it’s especially true of writers who are twenty-six. You will feel insecure and jealous. How much power you give those feelings is entirely up to you.”

“To be genuine means to be actual, to be true, to be sincere and honest.”

“Not to deny your grief, but rather to put into perspective what seems to be most true.”

“Perhaps the first step to getting over this is to acknowledge that what happened was indeed deeply misfortunate.”

“Our minds are small, but our hearts are big. Just about every one of us has fucked up at one point or another.”

“Humans are beautifully imperfect and complex. We’re horny, ass-saving, ego-driven drug fiends, among other, more noble things.”

“It will open up your life.”

“But compassion isn’t about solutions. It’s about giving all the love you’ve got.”

“That life is long, that people both change and remain the same, that every last one of us will need to fuck up and be forgiven, that we’re all just walking and walking and walking and trying to find our way, that all roads lead eventually to the mountaintop.”

“It’s a roiling stew of fear and need and desire and love and the hunger to be loved.”

“I’m not suggesting that one deny negative emotions, but rather that you accept them and move through them by embracing the power we have to keep from wallowing in emotions that don’t serve us well.”

And of these, lies very many cliches. But yet I find myself engulfed in these people’s stories and their honesty and their raw emotion. I feel with them. I feel for them. I relate to them. Strayed doesn’t make you feel sorry for them, or for yourself for feeling the same way as them. She rather turns around and says take control of your life. This, I enjoy. This, I find intriguing.

Internships – hating to love them

Recently, (Tuesday) I applied for an internship for this coming summer (wish me luck, it’s my one of my top choices) and they had a very out-of-the-ordinary application prompt. The question read: Dog and Cat. Coffee and Tea. Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. Everyone knows there are two types of people in the world. What are they? I found the writing of this prompt entirely challenging at first. But with thorough thought and lots of questioning of myself, I pushed my boundaries and wrote a very out-of-the-ordinary response. I was pleased with it come application submission. After all, an out-of-the-ordinary application prompt requires an out-of-the-ordinary response.

Cliches, and why they ~sometimes~ can make you feel better

Sometimes its more about not feeling alone rather than who is surrounding you. Knowing that there is someone out there who can relate to your same feelings, whether their experience is entirely different, creates a sort of solitude. I typically hate cliches, but Rupi Kaur’s “Milk and Honey” was just the right amount of sweet and predictable that it made her book filled with cliche poems appealing to me.

“Reader Pleasing” and how I fell victim

I believe this experience has helped me grow as a writer and as a person. I have done a good amount of personal writing in my life, however, I have come to realize I never truly revealed the real emotions I was feeling. I did a fair amount of “reader pleasing” unconsciously, which I find ironic since that was the exact thing I tried to avoid in this final project. “Reader pleasing” is an occurrence I find to be commonplace in my life, not only in my writing, but sometimes in my life as a whole.

Personal Writing vs. Personal Reading

I find it interesting how prior to doing this project I always read other people’s personal pieces and unconsciously imposed my own personal experience and emotion into their work. Now that I have completed a personal piece myself, I realize you cannot hold a critical eye when reading someone’s personal work. They make their own personal choices that tailor to their emotions.