I am an unfinished work, and so are many of my projects. This blog is just an odd collection of things I make and do.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Grad School Reflections on Self Worth

Being around so many younger people  makes me feel alive.  They just accept me as one of the crowd and I don't feel like a misfit as a nontraditional student.  We're all at different stages of our lives and careers.

A Facebook conversation between two grad students:

GS1:   Half my facebook feed is people having babies or getting married and I'm just sitting over here writing about why people choose to read romance novels for class.

GS2:  Other people say "and all I did was get married and have babies, while other people got master's degrees and became very successful."  Why is it so hard to honor our own choices and recognize their worth?  (I've been on both sides of that coin.)

GS1:  That's perfectly stated! Why is self worth the hardest thing to see?  (Of course asking that question on facebook is a problem in itself--comparing your "behind the scenes" with everyone else's highlights.)

GS2:  We see each other's "game faces" most of the time, not just on Facebook, while with ourselves we see the whole reality, both good and bad. Comparison is one of our worst enemies. It generally results in either pride or shame, both of which block compassion and love.


The significance of that really hit home to me today. We had to do a project which was a self-running PowerPoint presentation. The objective was to start the slide show and then stand back and let it present itself.  We could use pictures, text, sound, recorded voice, pretty much anything goes as long as it could play.  I felt really good about mine, and took my turn right away, so I would not sit there and get nervous as I saw the amazing things other people did and wonder if mine was good enough.

It was a good idea in theory; in reality, after mine ran, and seemed well-received, I watched the others and some were very impressive. I found myself thinking that this one was more professional, or did a better job with humor, or better flash animations, or whatever. Maybe mine was too straightforward, or the jokes were too lame...

STOP! I did a great job. Mine was cute and funny and ran perfectly the first time. My timings were right on target. The other students laughed at most of the intended moments, sighed for the lonely little lamb, made sounds of agreement when the words of the songs resonated with them, and applauded loudly at the end.  All in 4.5 minutes! 

So now I wonder how many students saw mine and thought, "oh my gosh, mine is not that good, and everyone is going to be comparing it to hers."  

We don't need to do that to ourselves!  We need to go forward with confidence!  I love what the professor said at the end.  He got up and talked a little about how they reflect our different personalities and interests. Then he asked a beautiful question.

"How many ways are there to be excellent?"

And then we discussed some of the things we had seen: creativity, research, pairing of ideas, technological expertise, humor, personal insight, hobbies represented...

I hope we all took home a feeling of capability and power. Because there were both in that room today, from every single person there.


Even so, I am amazed at some of the professional things these students have already done, and many at such a young age.  I kind of feel like a homebody who wandered into school. I remind myself that I was well qualified to get in.  I even got a scholarship. My experience and background is different than theirs but no less valuable.

And with that, I confess, I like the silly Amish romances that my more literate classmates stick up their noses at!  I don't mind the predictability of Christian romance books. Mysteries and thrillers are also predictable, in my opinion.  I like my pleasure reading light, clean, and uplifting. Many of those authors actually know an awful lot about human nature.  I also like Jodi Picoult, Michael Palmer, Robin Cook, and Mary Higgins Clark; I like Trixie Belden and the Hardy Boys but not Nancy Drew.  

The point is, it's okay. It's me. I'm entitled to like what I want and bring my own unique perspective to what I read, what I share, and it doesn't make me less than other readers, not even the one who owns almost the entire Stephen King collection.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Observations from My First Month in Grad School

As an undergrad, I went to a satellite campus, and felt that people mostly kept to themselves.  In my current grad program, people are friendly, and we are beginning to form a cohesive group, helping each other out. 

I feel like my mind has expanded 100-fold in just a few short weeks.

Facebook is my friend. I created a group for our program, and it has been the best resource ever for our tough computer class, wherein we are learning JavaScript and HTML.

Expect the unexpected.

Sometimes it pays to use the more expensive parking, even though I've already paid for the student commuter lot. 

After all the technical difficulties I had getting ready for a PowerPoint presentation, the last was the short-circuit in my brain that incorrectly computed the time I needed to leave home for a class that I have already gone to several times.  Hence the expensive parking to get to class on time.  

I really can 
a. do homework
b. drive
c. work
d. watch flashy PowerPoints
e. listen to music
f. sort the laundry
                 even with a splitting headache, but it's not easy.  
But I can't do dishes, make dinner, or vacuum.  

I saw a car that had a school plate--football is a huge thing here and it's quite common to see them--but this one had a plate that said MRSBOB. (name changed to protect the innocent.) My reaction was that I would never do that.  I love my husband but I am not just MRS somebody. Besides, my husband's name is too long to fit on a plate with MRS on there too.  

What kind of person drives that car?  I found myself making up scenarios in my mind. 

I wonder...
  1. How many of us know exactly what our license plate says?  I always did, but for some reason the latest one doesn't stick in my head.
  2. If I personalized a plate, what would I put on it?  What would you?
I also wonder...will I still feel a little bit wacky and wry after my Excedrin and Coke (the drink not the drug) wears off?  Probably.  

I certainly don't have time for projects and crafts, so this blog may be all about school for a while.