Road to Self-Acceptance

Through college and the courses that I am enrolled to take I have come to confront myself as a person. Specifically, in Dr. McCoy’s class, I’ve learned to think about my work ethic and what I contribute to a classroom and those around me. At the beginning of the year, I was overconfident, and I came into this classroom thinking it would all come together without much thought. When I originally met with this prompt, I chose the third epigraph which states, “It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood. Mere sounds strung together by some agent attempting to mean some thing, but the meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention (Percival Everett).” To be completely honest, I didn’t choose that because it meant anything to me even though I managed to relate it to myself in a way, I chose it because none of the others stood out to me in the first place. When writing my original essay, I connected those words to how I struggled to understand a book called the Bacchae which is written in such an old-fashioned way that I couldn’t comprehend what was written. A section in the Bacchae that gave me a tough time stated, “Ho, my band of worshippers, you women who left Tmolus that stands guard over Lydia! I brought you from among barbarians and you have been my companions on the march at rest (The Bacchae).” I used to idea of the Bacchae throughout the piece to explain how words can be very confusing and complex, but we only find meaning in them because we look for meaning. The first time I read the Bacchae I realized that I needed to really put in effort into my work and I suppose looking back at my progress is what makes this course’s second epigraph make so much sense to me. “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it.”  

Through this class I’ve learned to put more meaning into the process of the work and less into the grade that comes attached. My whole life I’ve put so much of my self-worth into the praise I got for receiving a high grade that I always neglected what I was gaining from what I was working on as well as the conversation that could come along with it. Throughout Dr. McCoy’s ENGL 203 course I’ve developed a greater respect for English as a subject. When I first came to SUNY Geneseo, I had purely chosen English as my concentration because I was good at it. In high school I was someone who always had nineties as an overall grade, and essay nor test never usually being less than a ninety percent itself. I had never doubted my abilities in English classes when even honor’s classes came easy to me, so when college rolled around, I didn’t doubt that I was meant to concentrate in that same subject. The first time I stepped into this classroom I felt I was ready, and it would most likely be my easiest class to take. Once it came time to go over the syllabus however, I started to become frightened, and I felt way in over my head, but I chose to come back because I wanted to believe I could do well. 

Even though I felt frightened I was still confident that I was just overreacting, never considering that I could slow down and reevaluate myself. I don’t believe I would have ever actually dropped the class, but I chose to ignore my own worries and push on forward. I feel that in my first essay I show my unwillingness to take things slow and my overconfidence to think I must know better than everyone else because well, I’m good at this subject. Through middle and high school, I’ve received high marks and was given the opportunity to take honors and AP classes. Being recognized for my abilities in English always made me proud, especially since when I was in elementary school English was my worst subject. In my writing, I had taken to saying,” when I opened up to that play, it was the first time, I was faced with the fact that I couldn’t understand what I was reading.” I had originally been forewarned of this likeliness but as the strong-headed person I can be I chose to ignore the warnings. That was the first time I had received a reality check in this course, and I slowly began to realize that I needed to take a step back and let myself be given as well as take in advice. I think at that time I began to feel lost because I felt that I was less then I was just because I no longer believed I could be good at English just because I couldn’t understand one thing. 

“I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY (Percival Everett).” Words can be interpreted in many ways and those words themselves are an open yet closed book that forms many different meanings. During the earlier classes I felt demotivated, and like an imposter within my own body. I put so much heavy emphasis on doing well that when I felt I wasn’t succeeding I felt foreign to myself. I find it quite humorous and ridiculous now, but it didn’t feel ridiculous in the moment. That is what the meaning of that section of the epigraph holds to me. Looking back at myself I think if I really investigated the quote that I would have found solace in the meaning the I derive from it. When looking back at a book we read during the semester called, “I Am Not Sidney Potier,” I can in some ways find similarities between the main character, Not Sydney, and myself. Not unlike Not Sidney, I found it was hard to be myself in a society I did not feel like I fit into. I as someone who comes from a mixed background, being both Puerto Rican and Jamaican, growing up in a town with both these backgrounds I didn’t actually feel like I fit in. Kids who were the same ethnicity as me were much more connected with their cultures and spoke Spanish or Jamaican patois. Neither of my parents really passed on their culture, so I never learned anything about a couple of traditional foods which in my opinion pushed me away from wanting to learn about where my family came from. Not Sidney’s connection to his peers reminded me of that lack of connection I had to those around me. When he had tried to make friends with the kids around him and they got frustrated with him just because of his name being a negation. Not Sidney as the book goes on is put in many situations but always feels like an outsider. In my opinion he often sometimes doesn’t feel like he himself fits in his own story, slowly becoming Sidney pottier as the story comes to an end. It doesn’t seem like he ever forms a connection by just being himself, all of it coming to him because they think he’s someone else or because he’s fulfilling a role that is not his own. 

As the semester progresses, I believe I started to find my own footing. With my own personal reflections and the group work that I was fortunate to participate in I started to understand myself more. I gave more weight to the process of writing and started to truly enjoy group interactions. There were times when I was excited to come into class and participate, taking care to make sure that I never missed a class because I didn’t want to miss anything. “It seems you all know me, and nothing could be further from the truth and yet you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself (Percival Everett).” That idea definitely felt truer in the beginning, however once I found what holds more value to me, that being my own opinion instead of my grades, I felt more connected with myself. A lot of my life I found it difficult to be myself around people because I felt if I was myself people wouldn’t like me. Even now I struggle with the need to feel liked by my peers and as a result I’ve felt a lot of heartache. Therefore, I’ve felt the others know me better than I know myself because I didn’t really know myself. Placing so much value on other people along with my grades ended up with me not placing my own feelings of worth on myself.  

Though maybe not in direct correlation to this course, the college experience has forced me to look at myself differently. In my opinion, it started in this classroom where I had to start looking at myself. The instance with the Bacchae started a domino effect of my questioning myself and my behavior and made me realize the one set back isn’t a reason to start doubting my own abilities. I know that I will never be the greatest writer in the world, and I don’t strive to be that. I strive to be happy with my writing and take in the criticism that will help me be a good writer. Being enough for myself is an end goal that is possible to reach, it’ll just take a bit of time. 

Essay 1

“It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood. Mere sounds strung together by some agent attempting to mean some thing, but the meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention.” Percival Everett. In life we take what we know for granted until at some point, when you’ve thought you’ve mastered a skill, you become hit by a brick wall of information that you don’t understand. The first time I opened the Bacchae I questioned myself and my chosen concentration. That may sound a little over dramatic but when I opened up to that play it was the first time, I was faced with the fact that I couldn’t understand what I was reading. During the first few days’ class Dr. McCoy had forewarned us that this text was difficult to get through, I remember taking that into account but still expecting to at least understand half of it, so I was truly taken aback when I found myself completely lost. 

It’s a wonder that any human language is understandable at all, at least that’s what I think when I look at it now. English truly is just, “Mere sounds strung together by some agent attempting to mean some thing,” and the fact that people made up these words and strung them together and we can understand it is such a great feat. The English language has also changed so much over time and the fact that we can still make sense of the old language is amazing. In class we briefly discussed Shakespeare and that has gotten me thinking about how we assume meaning to his play’s and ask ourselves what he intended to mean when he wrote one of his plays. “The meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention.” Can’t Sheakspears plays just have been for entertainment? Why does Macbeth have to had meant something? Just because we can understand Sheakspears works why must we look into more and not just appreciate them at a surface level understanding? 

With the Bacchae we do the same thing, but this time is it different? Do we look more into the Bacchae because it’s hard to understand? Through this class I have no doubt I will thoroughly come to know and understand the Bacchae and take in all it has to offer me. The meaning behind words is important, or so I’ve been told, so perhaps understanding works like Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby, and the Bacchae is more important than I might admit. “It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood.” There is always going to be something in read work that we might not understand but as long as we take our language for granted, we’ll surely choose not to acknowledge that fact.