Some people say they learned everything they know in one class. Others say they didn’t learn anything from that same class. In my case, I learned how to talk because of one class, and that class is English 203, taught by Beth McCoy. Within the first week, you will hear the word “unpack” at least twenty times. According to dictionary.com, unpack means, “open and remove the contents of (a suitcase, bag, or package)”. This is exactly what professor McCoy wants, except not from a bag. She really wants an idea to be unpacked. If something is said in class, open and remove the contents of that statement.

For example, if I sat in class and said, “He uses blazon to in his writing.”, only a few people in the class might know what I am trying to say. The professor would then ask me to unpack; so, I would have to take my statement, and dissect its contents. Let’s start with “He”. When I said “he”, who am I talking about? The answer, although I didn’t say it, is Percival Everett. Next, I said that he uses blazon. Well, what is blazon? Blazon, according to the poetry foundation website, is “French for ‘coat-of-arms’ or ‘shield’”. However, this is not the right definition of what I was trying to say. The definition of blazon that I wanted is the literary definition, which is described as, “catalogues the physical attributes of a subject, usually female”. Lastly, I said that he uses this in his writing. Percival Everett is a well-known author with many, many written and published pieces of work. I know that I am talking about Everett’s collection of poems, re: f (gesture), specifically, the poems under the title, “(body)”. However, only the people who have read that would know what I am trying to say, and even then, it is vague. So, when something needs to be unpacked, those are the steps to get there. Take every part of what is said and explain everything about it so everybody in class knows the context, the point being made, and the new information that comes from the point being made. My original statement, “He uses blazon to in his writing”, would turn into “Percival Everett uses the literary strategy of blazon in his writing of (body), in re: f (gesture)”. This statement is unpacked already because it has context, a source, and it is clear what I am talking about.

            After learning how to properly unpack, I didn’t think I would use it too much outside of the field of education. I started to unpack my claims in essays more, and even in presentations. However, I soon learned that unpacking can be used in anything. I have always been a little bit of a shy talker, and in the past couple years, I started getting social anxiety, so talking to people was always a struggle. Not only did I not say clearly what I was trying to say when I talked to people, but when they asked what I was trying to say, I would get anxious and change the subject, or just stop talking in whole. However, after taking this English 203 class and constantly practicing how to unpack everything I said, my brain started to work differently. I would begin to unpack things in my mind as I was saying it. For a couple months, I began to talk exactly how I thought. I would begin a sentence, then explain a part of it, go pack to provide context, then finish my thought. This would end up leaving the listener confused. I would give them all of the right information, but I would jumble the order so much that I might as well not have unpacked it at all. I kept going to class though, and I would continue unpacking more and more. Eventually, it began to affect how I talk again. This time though, I finally began to start unpacking things in the right order. I stopped actively thinking about how I would go about unpacking my conversations and let my mind do it on its own as I talked. After all the practice and time, I guess it started to work. As of about a month ago, I am able to have a conversation without being super vague or really confusing.

            This post is both a mandatory blog post, and a thank you letter to Professor McCoy. She did it unknowingly, just teaching us how to improve our writing and thoughts on paper. however, through a lot of practice and repetition, it eventually became a part of me. Now I know how to hold a conversation, and it helped my get very far along in the process of beating my social anxiety. Although it is not gone completely, at least now I know how to properly talk to somebody, so future group work won’t be a nightmare.

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