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.

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