Self Reflection Essay

Throughout the course, I have found the epigraph that best aided me in the assignments throughout the coure was the suspicious pants. The feeling I had towards that task carried through most of the reading and work completed this semester. When we first examened “Suspicious Pants.” I was frustrated and confused because I saw no point in it, to me it was amost ridiculous and didn’t answer any questions but made me have more questions. It was grueling to place meaning in a joke on Twitter. For me I saw a pair of pants laid out on a couch ironically. That was that with no reason to think deeper about it. If it would have appeared on my twitter feed it would be something I scrolled by and never thought about again. However, I couldn’t do that and I had to analyze it. Throughout countless assignments, I felt exasperated because they required deeper thinking and a lot of explaining/examples and it was hard to find the words, and get the work done. I procrastinated quite a bit. I had to get out of that headspace of just trying to find a quick answer like I had in high schooI and had to find a new headspace and understanding that the work if going to tke me more time than in high school, I have less help, new expectations, and new pressures. Looking through a different set of eyes can sometimes bring the ah-ha moment when you realize you were overcomplicating a situation and bring relief when you find the answer after doing so much work. 

There are a few things to note about my high school. First, my high school is microscopic, so it was always a very small intimate setting that allowed the teachers to be hands-on. Second, it was filled with class clowns that the teachers tended to butt heads with so if you were a quiet, shy person they got along with you well and would give you extra help just because you took off some of the stress and pressures from dealing with trouble. Third, the kids are all close because we have always been together so finding help wasn’t a challenge. All these things made it easy to find answers without searching too hard. Going back to the first point, the teachers were able to build connections with each student, and have an individualized approach to how to help them. I loved this about my school. I am a very anxious person that needs a lot of reassurance. I struggle with overall confidence so often teachers would give me obvious hints and very specific criticisms to take off that layer of pressure I applied to myself. This helped with that overthinking, but they probably could have pushed me more to get over that anxiety and find answers/problem areas myself. This can also go along with my second point, I caused no trouble, I was so quiet the principal didn’t even know my name because he never had to deal with me. To him I am Jenna, I have no idea who Jenna is. So teachers said to me as a break and would reward me by helping me out, I again didn’t have to fight for answers. This doesn’t mean I didn’t try to find answers, I did. I hated asking for help. I felt like a nuisance when I did this, but they helped me nonetheless. To my third point, if you were confused or needed the answers to something we could text anyone in our grade and most likely get the work to copy. Especially in my case because I have a twin brother so we would help each other out quite a bit. As for my school as a whole, they had to teach us just to know the answer and get it down as quickly as possible, we didn’t have the luxury of time to dig deeper. Our state examinations were timed. You had to be as fast as possible, writing essays in only 40 minutes, there isn’t much you can do in that time. The teachers did what they could but had to be mindful of those expectations of the state and of us students so sometimes we had to sacrifice one thing to ensure we could live up to the state’s demand. There was just simply no time to make kids sit there, slow down, and think. You always had to be on the move. I do not blame my school for any of this, and this wasn’t always the case I did have to do a lot of work under pressure and had a lot riding on the work I did but this way of learning almost set me up for failure in a course where the answers are not always right in front of you, thinking abstractly about things is the norm because that is something I did not have a lot of experience with. It’s a whole new ball game, and demands a lot of change from me that is uncomfortable but necessary to do to thrive in a college setting where you do not have the luxury of building such tight relationships with your teachers/professors. If in my high school a teacher would have asked my classmates and I to find meaning in a tweet about a pair of pants we could have looked at the teacher like they were insane. It would have made no sense, but as it turns out it doesn make sense and can teach you to change your way of thinking and take the easy way out.   

After suspicious pants, we soon moved on to the Greek tragedy,  The Bacchae That has to be one of the most perplexing stories I have ever read. Shakespeare would have been easier for me to dissect, and that infamously gives people difficulty. Because of this I would get frustrated, when I wasn’t able to find the answer or meaning at the snap of a hand. I just wanted to get an answer down and hated the feeling of being confused. From high school, I was so programmed to read something and understand it, and if I didn’t ask for help someone would explain it for me. So I had to get out of high school thinking and I kind of put myself in that fictional Greek setting to understand the mythical aspects, the feelings they had at the time, etc. One example of something that was significantly confusing was in The Bacchae which stated, “Then streams the earth with milk, yea, streams/With wine and nectar of the bee,/And through the air dim perfume streams/Of Syrian Frankincense: and He,/ Our leader, from his thyrsus spray.” Reading this I have no idea what’s going on. What does any of this mean? The lakes of the earth are made of milk? It seems random and complicated to me, like when people try to sound intelligent so they throw out words and none of it makes sense. But after reading it a few times, understand this is fictional so there is no need to be so literal, moving from needing answers right away, and gaining a new perspective just like the tweet with the pants I can either move past it and use context clues as to what they could mean or two truthfully understand exactly what is being said. People won’t always know what someone exactly means so working for meaning in nothing will take time, but will be beneficial in the end. 

    One of the next texts we worked with was Percival Everetts, “I Am Not Sidney Poitier”. This book wasn’t confusing per se but it is not my kind of reading. I didn’t enjoy the characters, some of the plotlines, etc. So to me, it was hard to work with because I found it to be very random and there was so much happening in the character’s life that was so unrealistic I couldn’t transport myself into the narrative. So I had to dig deeper, get over the fact that I didn’t enjoy the book, or it wasn’t my forte, and work with it anyway. I had to work a little harder to paint a picture of the settings, how all the characters must have felt, and move past the fact that his living with such bad luck seemed almost unrealistic because it is a fictional book. I needed to stop trying to put him into the real reality, it is just a book after all and based on movies so it is going to be dramatic, and cinematic. For example, Everett wrote, “It was also, as one might suspect, a bit of a hysterical delivery. My mother’s wailing caught the attention of a nearby woman who called another neighbor woman and soon there were three of them huddled like conspirators around the spread-eagled legs of my mother, staring at her privates and believing that nothing would be forthcoming. One of them had a notion to summon the doctor from down the street, and so she did. The short, waddling doctor, bleary-eyed and out of sorts, arrived and asked a reasonable enough question: “What week are you in?” “One hundred and four.” This came from the first woman.” To me her saying she was pregnant for that long is so far-fetched, to her naming him Not Sidney, and then when she passes he goes off to live with Ted Turned and Jane Fonda. The entire story seemed too comical for some of the events taking place. But I had to get over that and look at what happens throughout the book and not get hung up on the more absurd ideas. Just like with the pants, instead of sitting there getting angry over not getting it or liking it, but I had to dig deeper anyway. 

One final piece I would like to discuss is the very last one we worked with, Re: F(gesture). In all honesty, I thought the last poem, Body, was eerie. The way Percival Evertt used the anatomy terms for the body parts instead of the more common slang words, and describe their functions all while describing sex seemed like something you find in a serial killer’s manifesto. I had never read a poem like that so it was uncomfortable in a schol setting. This would have never been read in my high school so it was unexpected. Though an easy read you still have to get quite far to make out what he is talking about, and with the first two poems Logic, and Zulus I found myself having to look quite a lot of information up to truly be able to understand what he was talking about. Instead of getting frustrated and skimming purely because I don’t know certain words or phrases and looking around for what they mean was a little out of character for how I would normally approach something like that. I feel I finally grew out of the answer being right in front of my face like in primary and high school and did some work to be as informed as I could be. For example, in Zulus Everett stated, “Nam tua res agitur,/paries cum proximus ardet.” Unfortunately, all I speak is English and the smallest amount of Spanish so to understand I had to translate to find how this fit, and what it means.

  My perspective entirely changed on how to approach essays, readings, and any other assignment. Especially because college is paced so differently than high school so you will have to grow and adjust accordingly. People can get comfortable with the old way of doing something and gain a new perspective on things such as whether a pair of khakis is suspicious or not. If I was to stay in a headspace where I don’t want to put in the work and I think everything is meaningless then I would have not been able to work with others, cocmplete any work, and move on from high school learning. 

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