Challenge Journal: Reflection

Pursuing a corporate career, I often ask myself: “Why Writing?” The business world is moving away from writing as a valuable skill. Even in professions that do value writing, appreciation comes few and far between. Why in the world did I dedicate countless hours to a Minor in Writing? To the Michigan Daily?

As my journey isn’t finished, I can’t say I have an answer for it. But I am getting closer, and excuse the cliches when I share my possible answers.

I furthered my understanding of what constitutes a community. through writing I felt something strangely tribal at the MiW showcase as I listened to fellow classmates share their projects after students from others. I felt proud of what we accomplished even when there was no overlap between what any of us did.

Similarly, the minor showed me that writing can build relationships. I think people better understood who I was after my workshop in the class. I certainly felt the passion that others had when I saw pieces of their work. Finding a voice and looking to be unique is what drove me on the Daily and in the class, and I am grateful the opportunity to further figure out what that means for my writing.

Finally, my time spent writing showed me my potential when I work on something that I am passionate about. When will I get the freedom on an assignment like I did with the gateway and capstone? When I am working, will I have to put passion projects to the wayside? I’ve certainly gained an appreciation for the variety of projects I saw and the fun I had making mine.

So why writing? There isn’t one good way I can put it. I may always wonder if the good I gained from it really would make a difference later on. But maybe it doesn’t have to. I can appreciate that there was something good to be had at all.

Into the Sunset

When I was younger, I was really into old Western movies for no particular reason. From classics like A Fistful of Dollars to more recent entires like No Country for Old Men, I was always drawn to the genre. Maybe it’s the tumbleweeds, or the desolate landscape, or the eerie soundtracks, but I found Westerns simply incredibly compelling.

One of the hallmarks of many of these classic Westerns is the ending. Typically, in many of these films, the final shot features the protagonist riding off into the sunset, having successfully overcame their adversaries or or otherwise resolved their conflicts. Seeing that shot at the end of each of these movies was reassuring in a way. It felt like everything was right with the world when a gunslinger acknowledged their success, while simultaneously deciding it was time to move on to a new challenge.

That same feeling has dominated much of my thinking lately. Between finishing the Minor in Writing and graduating from Michigan, it feels as if I, too, have overcame my own obstacles. Like many of those fictional characters, I feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and pride in my success. Yet, I also feel a strong sense of sadness and unhappiness. Being the one actually riding into the sunset, I now realize the pain that accompanies leaving or finishing something of real value. Deep down, I ache for the story to go on, for another capstone project to come along, for another opportunity to develop more as a writer at Michigan.

It’s why these past few weeks have been so difficult. I want to keep going–to keep pushing, to take another course, to create another piece, to do anything to prevent that solitary sun from finally setting and from the screen fading to black.

At the risk of assuming another person’s emotional state, I think some of those characters felt the same way. Or, at least, I like to think they do. Really, I struggle to believe that these tough-guy gunslingers can all move on without feeling a twinge of sadness at leaving an entire place behind, regardless of how tantalizingly exciting the future may be. It’s this specific act–the moving-on–that I think reveals much about a person’s character.

For me, my difficulty in moving-on shows how much I’ve enjoyed my time at Michigan and, more broadly, how resistant to change I am. I’ve always struggled to adapt to change, and finishing the Minor and graduating represent massive changes to my life–to all of our lives. Yet, I’m still hopeful that this will ultimately be a positive change. I may be being shoved into the sunset, rather than going voluntarily, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t enjoy it.

Into the sunset we go.

My Gallery, My Showcase, My Wix

We took a class trip to see a project. The focus of Sinking Cities was the effects of climate change on cities around the world. The pictures, videos, and articles were showcased on the second floor of the Hatcher Graduate Library. It was eloquently presented, capturing your attention with flowing water and the flowing stories.

With this presentation fresh in my mind, I knew that where I exhibited and how I showcased my project would be important. Both are influential in how the audience understands the project. Additionally, the presentation method gives context to how the audience should interpret it. Bright, fun colors will have a more humorous, upbeat review of the piece. While a dark background will have the opposite effect.

For my own project, I knew that I wanted it to be sentimental and cheerful. I choose my project to be exhibited on Wix, for its user-friendly and creative interface. I found a theme, equipped with flowers and bold writing that would be perfect. I changed the color scheme from brighter pinks to darker purples, holding true to the feminine nature yet dampening down the overly cheesy hot pinks.

I kept the flowers to add to the feminine aspects and carried the theme throughout. I kept all of the colors consistent on every page and I did the same uniform format for the dedication pages. Each person got a title, quote, a few pictures, and their own little bio.

The last changes that I made were recommendations from my workshop. I switched my introduction from a separate page onto the scrolling home page. I added more multimedia aspects to my dedication pages. Lastly, I finished up a few extra pages, making sure to keep them uniform to the rest of the project per a recommendation.

Overall, I am incredibly happy with how the site turned out and how it showcases my project. Wix, you’ve been a blessing.

-Julia

The “real world” (CJ #4)

They say that we go to school to learn, so that someday we can implement that knowledge in “the real world”.

I think the idea of the “real world” is fake. 

We’ve been living in the “real world” this whole time. We’ve had to fight our own battles, cry when we needed to, and celebrated when we deserve it. We’ve felt realemotions, and we’ve allowed our scars to become part of us. We’re resilient, smart, strong. We’re real. 

I became a writing minor because I love to write.

I never thought of the privilege that the minor has granted us until now. 

Every day, we are presented with the opportunity to reflect. We are encouraged to use our words to sort through difficult times, and to capture our growth. Our writing has become increasingly personal rather that academic. 

The capstone project has been a unique opportunity for self exploration and reflection. Too often, students are inspired by a prompt. We must fulfil certain expectations in our writing, adhere to the restrictive margins. Throughout this semester, we found inspiration through our unique passions. We set our own guidelines. I think this project has helped all of us find our voice, and ensured us that our writing process won’t end on May 4th.

We’re not being shoved into the “real world”, but rather experiencing the world through a different lens. Without the title of “student”, we are allowed to become more of us. We’re allowed to create our own projects, and are responsible for continuing to write and capture our growth. 

I think we’re all a little uncomfortable with the uncertainty that lies ahead. But, uncertainty leads to opportunities, experiences & moments. I’m certain it will lead to great things for all of you. 

When Writing About Other People

While the title may sound like I am gossiping, I can assure you I am not. At least in this blog, I am probably texting someone in iMessage at the same time though. These people that I am texting are some of my best friends. My topic for my capstone project is friendship. I am specifically dedicating a page to each of these friends.

I want these pages to be humorous and sentimental. I have already added pictures and quotes. I even added a short note about all the things I appreciate about them. However, in my capstone workshop, my peers asked for more: more stories, more pictures, more about these people and our relationships.

I understand. They do not know my friends as well as I do. Yet, in this constructive recommendation from the audience, I started to contemplate my project. I am writing about the people closest to me, to them. So how am I supposed to tailor that to a wider audience?

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As I reflect on certain moments in each of my friendships, I have to sift through them and think of what would appeal to a broader audience. I want those reading my capstone to connect with my friends as I have. I want them to compare their own friends to mine and find some humor in the similarities.

To do so, I need to balance writing about other people with writing to other people. I can tailor my content to include moments others might connect with. I can include stories about how I met my friends and screenshot of our text messages. I can add more pictures. I can add more quotes.

Once I do so, this project could inspire many to think about why their friends are so important to them as I reflect on why mine are important to me.

The Late Rush

I always do this. I saw I am going to do differently. I saw that I am going to change. I saw that I am going to finish things early. But things always remain the same.

No matter how many times I write it in my planner or Google Calendar, I am always doing my assignments late. I have been in school for 16+ years now and I have not been able to fix my habit of procrastination. It is now part of my writing process. I was supposed to challenge myself this semester to change my process. I wanted to stop procrastinating and start planning. However, as I sit here typing away hours before a deadline, it seems like nothing has changed.

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I have developed further processes that seem to promote my current habits. I can now type most of my pieces on my phone, in the dark, at all times of the night. I learned that I produce better work under these conditions, especially under the stress of the impending due date.

While that is all fine and dandy for my education (probably not, but I only have four days left so why contemplate), it cannot happen in my future job. I want, no, I need to change these habits. I need to follow my planner, calendar, sticky notes, and alarms. I need to prioritize my work over trivial things like Netflix and conflicting plans. The disappointment I feel in myself every single time that I wait to do an assignment and turn in work with half the effort has to stop.

I can do better. I can be better. I can stop procrastinating.

It will take some time. I will backslide a few times. But if I work on changing my mindset, really, really work at, then I can change.

Challenge Journal – Writing After College?

I’m not sure about anyone else, but I’m a just a little nervous for life post-grad. While I’m grateful that I have a job that I’m incredibly excited for, there’s a lot of things about college that I’m going to miss: waking up a little too late, staying up with my roommates just to talk, football games, walking in the diag, and, well, writing.

My college experience has been shaped by the writing that I’ve gotten to do – through classes (specifically the minor), my journal, and extracurricular activities. I’ve written for online magazines, for a startup, and for myself. I’ve found a place for writing because of my passion, but also because I’ve carved out the time for these activities. I’ve been passionate about writing from such a young age, and I know that’s not going to go away the minute I graduate from this University. But, what if I don’t have the time post-grad; no, what if I don’t make the time? In college, that time has been carved out for me, but not anymore.

I don’t think that my love for writing will necessarily go away, but I am scared that it will start to diminish until it’s really just me writing in my journal once every couple of days. How do you all plan to make time for writing post-grad when you’re balancing work, health, and a social life? How can we make sure that we don’t lose all of the progress we’ve made throughout our time at Michigan?

The Great, the Unfortunate, and the Worst – Challenge Journal #4

Is using the phrase “the good, the bad, and the ugly” with alternative words interesting or just cliche? Maybe a little of both. Oh well.

As graduation approaches and my world will soon be completely new and scary, I feel the need to categorize and segment my feelings into these buckets – the great (yay), unfortunate (ugh), and worst (boo). It helps me to better understand my head space and to more easily identify potential problems. So let’s get to it:

The Great

I just bought a new car (71 miles!!!!!). My dog might be coming to stay with me this weekend (heart eyes). I packed away my winter coat and gloves/hats/scarves for the season. I have my dress(es) for graduation celebrations. I graduate in 10 days!!

The Unfortunate

My new car is still sitting in my parent’s driveway. I’m going to have to take her on a lot of walks. My hands have been cold every morning on my walk to class. I still haven’t found my shoes for graduation. I graduate in 10 days.

The Worst

I’m terrified to drive my new car because I’m afraid that I’ll total it before it reaches 1,000 miles. My dog hates staying with my because I don’t have a yard for her to run around in. I hate cold, dry hands. I still haven’t found my shoes for graduation and I told my mom that I did months ago. Crap, I graduate in just 10 days…

Alas, everything seems to have a good and bad angle. So much for categorization.

Happy writing everyone 🙂

So…what now?

I mean, technically I’m not done with my project. But the closer I get to the end, the more I think about how, despite all of the long nights and drawn-out papers and peer review workshops, I really enjoy having a creative outlet. Whether that’s been an amazing 325 course or one of my classes for the minor, I’ve always enjoyed my English-based classes the most because they give me a chance to express myself, or whatever it is that’s on my mind.

But I didn’t major in English. I’m going into a writing-intensive career, but it’s public relations for sports teams. There’s only so much creativity you can add into that before it becomes unnecessary and superfluous. I don’t think I majored in the wrong thing — I certainly like what I do — but how do you keep up with creativity in writing outside of school? If it’s not on your checklist for work, when will you write that essay about your favorite day of the year?

This is probably just some pre-graduation crisis I’m going through right now, but it feels very, very real. I love writing, and I love creating things. But I feel like I don’t have the same outlet to express myself in the future, and that scares me. I don’t want to lose any of that.

Is there anyone going into a similar career (or career without a lot of writing) that feels the same way, or knows of a way to keep up with writing outside of school? I’m sure there are a million ways, but I’m just not sure what they are.

Is it really crunch time or does it just feel like crunch time?

I feel like regardless of how much work I put into a paper, or my homework, or a project, or whatever it is that’s causing me overwhelming stress at any given moment, I always tend to hit panic mode toward the end. I’ve literally written entire papers before, had them done days before the deadline, and just spent so much time tweaking or experimenting or doing surgery on them that I find myself working right up until the deadline.

I think this is pretty emblematic of who I am as a person, in both a positive and negative way. I never think anything is done, ever, which is a pretty horrifying trait to have because I never feel satisfied with something until it’s turned in and Canvas is closed and I literally do not have access to the document I’m trying to tweak.

On the other hand, this is really good when I’m applying to jobs, because my resume is completely nit-picked to as close to perfection as a semi-decent resume for a 22-year old hopeful can be. Right now, though, this is not the case. Right now, despite working on this project for months and compiling as much information as possible an interviewing people and completely reshaping my project, I’m in panic mode. I’m in the furiously-typing stage, the stage where you incorporate and un-incorporate the same source approximately 10 times before deciding to cut it all together.

Yay!

I know my project is in a good place, and I know that I’ve done a lot of work for this. But my biggest battle right now is myself, I think — so maybe it’s time to close the laptop and take a nap and pick it back up tomorrow, when there’s less time to panic over every little thing.