Self Discovery Through English

Before starting this class, I was very nervous because I expected the course to be packed with reading books and writing papers about the books we read. I assumed that we would be writing papers due to the fact that all of the English classes I’ve previously taken were essay based. I have never taken a course where there is so much focus on THINKing and caring for our peers. I was super nervous for this course because I have always struggled with English classes. Reading books and sharing my opinion has always been hard for me. Throughout highschool I was always scared to share my thoughts and ideas with my peers because I feared that they would be wrong. However, this course felt different than past English classes. Professor McCoy welcomed us to the class, and made it clear in the beginning of the course that there were no right or wrong answers. Although I was still nervous at first, I slowly warmed up to the class. My classmates were very friendly and helpful throughout the course. I talked to some of them about what I was struggling with in the course and it helped me realize that I was not alone and that other students were struggling with similar things. Throughout the semester, I was dealing with many outside issues and started to miss class. I was extremely thankful for my classmates because they would help fill me in on what I was missing in class. I was also extremely thankful for the Regular Sunday Announcements from Professor McCoy. They provided all of the information from every class and were so helpful when I was struggling. 

After looking back at the first paper that I wrote in this course, I feel very disappointed in myself as a student. I don’t feel like I achieved what I wanted to throughout this course. My first essay talked a lot about me wanting to grow as a reader and a writer. I wanted my creative abilities to grow, and I wanted to become more comfortable with sharing my own opinions on things even if I don’t understand them right away. I continued to struggle with all of these things throughout the course and in some ways I feel like I became worse at all of those things. After missing some classes, it was extremely hard for me to get back into the groove of going to class. I was scared of coming back to class, I knew I messed up and was behind my peers. I felt like I had missed too much and that it was too late for me to start going to class again. I was embarrassed for missing so many classes when it was so easy for my peers to go to class everyday. I also felt like everyone in the class worked so well together and knew each other so well, even though that was just my anxiety telling me those things. I really wish I could have gone to all of the classes and created better relationships with my classmates. This could have helped me force myself to go to class and feel comfortable talking to my peers. Another thing that I really struggled with was the readings during this course. The literature that we read was much harder than anything I had read in previous classes. When we were reading Frenzy or The Bacchae, I found it very hard to understand the story lines. I wish I could have realized that my peers also were struggling with similar things that I was, and I could have worked with them and talked to them and it would have helped me understand the readings so much more than I did on my own. I was very upset with myself because looking back on this course, I think that this course was what I needed to finally step out of my comfort zone and become comfortable with sharing my ideas even if they are different from my classmates. I wish I could have taken advantage of this course and its focus on caring for our peers. It was much different than any course that I have taken, and I am nervous that there won’t be another class like this in the future. This was a comfortable classroom that I could have used to grow as a student and a person. 

However, I still feel that I have grown a lot as a person throughout this semester. The epigraph that stood out to me in the beginning of the semester was “I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY”. This epigraph still stands out to me but in a much different way than before. This year I have experienced many ups and downs. One of the biggest things that I learned is that healing from something does not mean that you go back to the person you were before it happened. I went through a lot last year and I had been waiting to go back to my old self, but I never realized that I would grow as a person and change. Which was another thing I had to learn, that change is okay. The second part of this epigraph was, “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something that I’ve lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it. What I’ve discovered is that this thing is not here. In fact, it is nowhere.” In the beginning of the semester, I feel like I was looking for things to go back to how they were before I had gone to school in Arizona last year. Now, I have accepted things how they are, and am much happier with myself at Geneseo. I think these epigraphs were perfect for this course. I love how the epigraphs don’t make complete sense when you first read them, and now that the semester is coming to an end, they make much more sense and have many more meanings then they did before. 

I think that this class will help me in the future in many ways. One huge thing that I have learned from this class is to take advantage of any opportunities that I get from future classes that I take. I have a lot of regret for how I did in this class, and I wish I could take it again, but I am thankful that I could learn this lesson even though I learned it the hard way. Another thing that I have learned from this class is how to connect with my peers, and work with them in a way that helps all of us succeed together. I have learned the THINKing process, and how to write by taking my time. I learned that it’s good to go slow, to put all of my ideas out there and take the time to get a final product that I am proud of. I have learned that moving forward, I need to prioritize school, and form connections with my classmates so that I am forced to attend class due to loyalty with my peers. I need to take chances and let my brain focus on where I am, and not where I am going. Thinking too hard about the future causes me to stress and shut down, which is something that hurts me in the long run. I am extremely grateful for this course, and even this self-reflective essay, for opening my eyes and helping me learn so much more about myself. I am very hopeful that this class will help me in future classes. 

Essay 1

After the first few weeks of class, I have been able to see what this class is really about and dig deep into my brain to find my more creative side that holds new ideas and interesting thoughts of my own. We have read many epigraphs, and all of them have made me more interested in this class. Before starting this class, I thought epigraphs were just inscriptions carved into buildings, statues or coins. After reading a few in the literary sense, I have learned that they are much more than an engravement. Epigraphs are usually a sentence or a paragraph and are used to introduce a larger text. They are usually at the beginning of books, chapters, or other texts. The thing that I think is cool about epigraphs is that they might not make sense at first, but they will make more sense at the end of the text. Which is one of the reasons why the epigraphs that we read within the first week of class made me very excited for the class this semester. Although the epigraphs we read didn’t make much sense to me, I hope they will make more sense by the end of the semester, and help me reflect on how much I grew during this class.

The epigraph that stood out most to me was “I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY”, from the book I Am Not Sidney Poitier, written by Percival Everett. This epigraph stood out to me mostly because it was the most relatable for me, and one of the easier ones to understand. Last year I went to school in Arizona and really struggled. It was my first year living alone, and on top of that I was living across the country. After finishing my school year, I decided to transfer somewhere closer to home. This relates to the line in the epigraph, “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something that I’ve lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it.” After transferring to Geneseo, this is how I felt. Although I am still two hours from home, it is much different than a seven hour flight. I felt like I had lost myself at school last year, but after being home for summer and transferring to a new school, I feel like I have connected with something I had lost. After the sentence I mentioned before, Percival Everett says, “What I’ve discovered is that this thing is not here. In fact, it is nowhere.” Although I was happy to be back home, I still feel as though I moved onto a new chapter in my life. Going home helped remind myself who I was as a person, but I didn’t come back to find anything, I came back for a fresh start. 

Another sentence from this epigraph that I resonated with was, “It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth.” This is how I felt at the school I was at last year. People form opinions on people too fast, based on how they look or the few things that they hear about them. After being at college for a year now, one thing that I have learned is to not judge people until you know them, or never to judge a book by its cover. All throughout high school I felt like people judged me based on the people I was friends with, or what they heard about me from other people. I always hated that because I put a lot of effort into being a good person and doing nice things for people. I have been focusing a lot this year on giving good first impressions, and trying to be as friendly as possible. Another reason why I relate to this part of the epigraph is because people from my past think they know who I am, but over the past year I think I have changed the most that I have in my life so far. So realistically, they have no idea who I am anymore unless I have seen or talked to them since I saw them last. 

One thing that we have talked about in class that has stood out to me and reminds me of  this epigraph is good faith and bad faith. Personally, I really believe in karma. That being said, a lot of my life I put a lot of focus into doing things that will bring me good faith. That is a big part of who I am, and I think that ties into the part of the epigraph that I mentioned earlier in this text, “It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth.” From the outside I seem like I am very relaxed and don’t care about much, so I feel like a lot of people think that I don’t care much about my faith or karma. I really enjoyed this topic in class, and I could easily relate it to the epigraphs we were shown in the first week of classes. 

By the end of this class, I really hope I can grow as a reader and a writer. Not only that, but I hope that my ability to be creative really develops, and it gets easier for me to make connections with different texts. I am very excited for this class because it seems much different than any English class that I have taken previously. I hope that I can become more comfortable with sharing my opinion, or ideas, along with getting more comfortable reading things even if I don’t understand them right away.  In the past, I have struggled with reading things, not understanding them, and being too scared to share my opinion because I thought it would be wrong. But I have already learned from this class that there are no right or wrong answers, and in order to really understand something it helps to talk to my peers about it.