Nothing Will Come of Nothing by Nicole Barnes

As I sit here reflecting on my attitude towards this essay in the past week, I notice a significant change. I feel eager, determined, focused, and relieved in comparison to the anger, frustration and confusion I was experiencing just six hours ago. I have focused my thought process on this epigraph by Percival Everett, “The interesting thing about irony for me is that real irony is far more sincere than earnestness. To accept the absurdity of a situation is to accept the humanness of it. Utter sincerity suggests a kind of belief that one knows all there is to know about a given circumstance. That is not to say that one should ever make light of serious and grave and important issues, but that open and genuine intellectual curiosity should never be a casualty in any situation. Irony is not always funny. Humor is not always ironic.” I will discuss the ways in which this epigraph relates irony to my personal experiences, but also the goals I strive to achieve this semester. 

The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms defines the word irony as “a contradiction or incongruity between appearance or expectation and reality. This disparity may be manifested in a variety of ways. A discrepancy may exist between what someone says and what he or she actually means, between what someone expects to happen and what really does happen, or between what appears to be true and what actually is true. Furthermore, the term irony may be be applied to events, situations, and even structural elements of a work, not just to statements.” I pondered on this definition for a decent chunk of time, while I decifered ways to compare irony to our class content and feelings. After I stepped into Professor Mccoy’s office to clear up some confusion on this essay, multiple connections were made between Percival Everett’s epigraph and my overall experience in this course so far.

The first link I made involves the structure of my personal thought process as I complete an assignment, that many of my fellow classmates agreed with. From elementary to high school and still existing in some college courses, I have been taught to focus on my end results. Whether it is getting an exam done to relieve stress, skimming through a three hundred page book due in a week, or writing a lengthy essay, I have always prioritized getting to step Z before I acknowledge step A. This often results in ignoring out of the box thinking because we as students are used to jumping to conclusion that grades are all that matter and the end result must be near perfect. This is a huge example of how irony relates to this course specifically because Professor McCoy has expressed how important it is to slow down and use critical thinking, because when we jump to conclusion we often lose so much opportunity to get our brains flowing to a deeper level of thinking. As I walked into office hours today, I expressed my concerns about not meeting the word count because I was confused as to what my content was supposed to be focused on. Right away, Professor McCoy helped me operate my thought process from “how do I complete this” to “where can I start with this process.” This single realization helped me knock down all the walls I had blocking my writing abilities, and allowed me to start my journey on this assignment. 

Another ironic situation I have experienced in the past few weeks was the fact that putting off work does nothing but make matters worse. A quote Professor McCoy mentioned to me was “nothing will come out of nothing.” As I researched this quote, I discovered it was from a Shakespeare tragedy, King Lear. To sum up this scene, website Poem Analysis states that King Lear demands that his three daughters confess their undying love to him. Cordelia is the only honest of the three, and she refuses to lie to him. While her sisters declare false love to their father, Cordelia tries to prove her love through obedience and honor by contrasting herself from her sisters. After she says nothing, he states to her that “nothing will come of nothing” and if she refuses to give him the love he believes he deserves, then he will banish her from kingdom. This will result in her not being rewarded in the same way as her sisters are for producing false accusations to their father just so they can ensure their futures. When relating this quote to our class content, I used “nothing will come of nothing” in terms of self advocating and putting in the work. Recognizing my past, I can truthfully say that I tend to procrastinate or ignore work that seems “difficult” or “intimidating.” This has taught me that nothing except for more work comes from brushing aside something that deserves my time and attention, which ultimately helps me grow and challenge myself as an individual. This represents the process of practice over procrastination. If I practice challenging my thoughts, it will help me feel more comfortable with tasks that do not have a definite beginning and end. Furthermore, college has taught me how important self advocating is. Ironically enough, “nothing” really will come from nothing if you do not take advantage of the resources right in front of your face to help you succeed. For example, I walked into office hours with nothing but negative thoughts about myself and towards this assignment. I did not have valuable pieces of information I needed, such as the Bedford, which set me back before I had even started. As I worked through the confusion and got my brain working, I no longer felt like I had nothing to give for this assignment. Now, I sit here with excitement and hundreds of different thoughts and opinions to discuss about a topic that has no limits, which feels extremely rewarding.

With all this being said, I will use these realizations throughout my semester in not only this class but every class I take. I truly think slowing down and analyzing each step in a process will lead me to the most successful end result. Furthermore, I will focus on stepping out of my comfort zone and reaching out for help even when I feel stupid, or engaging in class because all thoughts are valid and worth hearing. Finally, I will embrace my confusion and use that as motivation because often the most creative thoughts come from a state of mind that is not always expected. I think this course will challenge me to interpret literature in ways that I typically don’t tend to do, and I will slowly begin to feel more comfortable with this as I give myself time to test out a new thought process.

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