By: Ireland Conrow
At the beginning of this semester, I was nervous about starting college. Not only was I coming into a new school setting right after having a hybrid year of high school, but I also knew the academic work would be getting harder. By using the ideas of harm and care from the INTD 105 course epigraph “You just can’t fly on off and leave a body” I was able to see growth in myself this semester. This course epigraph comes from the novel Song of Solomon written by Toni Morrison. In the novel Morrison shows how different characters grow by using the ideas of harm and care. One of the characters, Guitar, starts as being quiet as he watches what is going on in the world around him pertaining to race. When you get farther into the story, you see Guitar realizing the harm of being in the minority and caring for this realization by coming out of his comfort zone and starting to fight for equality. Even though Guitar’s actions of fighting for equality were violent, his passion for this issue allowed himself to grow as a person. Through relating my experiences of this past semester to the novel it has helped me realize how I have grown since high school not only personally but also academically. As I say in my goal setting essay that I wrote at the beginning of this semester, I interpret this course epigraph as “you can’t live on Earth and not leave a mark on someone or something before you move on from this life.” I used this idea to reflect back at this semester to see how my growth was influenced by harm and care. Also, by seeing how identifying harm and care in situations I was in could affect someone else’s growth.
At the beginning of my senior year of high school last year I was starting the application process of applying to colleges. My counselors provided little information about how to do things such as submitting an application, teacher recommendations and my college essay to the schools I wanted to apply to. These actions harmed me because the counselors were not giving me many resources to help prepare me for college. They would meet with me and my classmates to see if we had a plan for after high school but would never follow through with checking on how far in our process we were. They would also send out reminders of when things like college essays and teacher recommendations were due but wouldn’t give us any pointers on how to complete these assignments. This relates to my interpretation of the course epigraph in the way that my counselors thought they were leaving a mark on me from how they provided help with moving on from high school but it was not in a way I needed. I often felt very behind in the college application process because I didn’t have anyone consistently helping me. I felt like all my friends were already done applying to colleges before I even got started with my process. I felt very overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to complete things on my own. What should have been an exciting process quickly became an anxious one. Of course, the actions of my counselors were unintentional but I didn’t feel as supported as I had hoped with this process.
When I started my first semester of college this year, I was still the head space of high school. Last year since we had a hybrid year of learning all my assignments were due online. Many of my teachers became lenient when we turned these assignments in. Without realizing it I started procrastinating on most assignments, which I had never done before, because I knew I could just turn them in any time I wanted online. There were never any consequences to these actions so I continued to put off my work. I was causing harm to myself because I was getting into a habit that wouldn’t be acceptable to do after high school. I didn’t realize I was harming myself then but looking back I can see how it affected me.
As a result of that I started this year procrastinating on most of my assignments. I very quickly started feeling overwhelmed and stressed. For example, the first course check-ins for INTD 105 I put off for as long as I could. I ended up rushing to get the assignment turned in by 11:59 the day it was due. Since I was procrastinating, I ended up turning in the assignment a couple minutes late. By continuing these actions, I was causing harm to myself academically. I wanted to grow from high school so I started caring for this new setting I am in and the responsibilities that come with it. I first started by making a schedule of when I was going to complete my homework assignments and the work I had for my online class. When I made the changes of following a schedule, I noticed I started to relax more. Instead of stressing about the work I was putting off while relaxing, I was able to enjoy the feeling of accomplishing something.
Another academic aspect I started caring more about was the process of studying and how effective it can be. I never developed good study habits in high school. Before tests instead of only looking over my notes the night before like I used to do, I started making flash cards and quizzing myself on the material. I noticed an instant change in my test grades and realized that my hard work paid off. I was able to grow academically by caring for these old habitats I had and adjusting fit the expectations in college. My interpretation of the course epigraph relates to caring for myself and my academics because I didn’t want to leave a mark on this first semester of college and my classes by not getting my assignments done on time then continuing to move on knowing I could have done better. I have higher expectations for myself and I just had to learn how to reach them. I still have to grow academically but this is a good start.
By using these ideas of harm and care I was able to address a situation that was preventing me from growing. When I was writing my collaborative essay with my group in INTD 105, I felt like the ideas I wanted to put into our essay weren’t being heard. This was harming me because I wasn’t able to contribute any ideas to my group which made me feel useless in this situation. I decided to care for myself and my group’s growth by addressing how it was affecting me. With some encouragement from Beth, I told my group members how I was feeling. They were very understanding about how I felt and made adjustments to include me more. My actions relate back to the course epigraph because I couldn’t turn in the essay with my group without it having any of my thoughts in it. It also relates because if I had just let the actions of my group continue, I wouldn’t be leaving my mark on them by telling them how I felt. By talking with my group about how I was feeling, they might be able to take the things that I told them into other groups they work with. Identifying the harm in this situation then caring for it allowed me to grow as a person. I got more confident with myself and with being able to communicate better with my classmates.
This first semester of college has taught me a lot about myself. I have learned how to adapt to different situations around me by being able to identify harm, and then caring for that harm. I have gained more confidence in myself from doing this. I will forever be grateful for this experience of learning how to self-reflect upon the actions I made and being able to grow from them. Since I now know how to identify how I am not growing from an experience, I can look at the harm that is preventing my growth and be able to make changes to care for the situation. If I am seeing growth in myself then I can look back at what I did and identify the good things I can continue to use in different experiences. I know what I have learned will certainly help me throughout the next couple of years in college. I will be able to consistently look back and learn from my mistakes and be able to grow from them. I will continue to use these ideas to help myself grow even more as a person throughout the rest of my college career.