A New Chapter

My name is Conlan Shirley, and yes, that is the correct order. Some may look at my name as Shirley Conlan and assume I’m an Irish woman. As a tall, dark hair, dark-eyed Polish man, I couldn’t be any farther from that. Beyond people switching my name around, some have never heard the name Conlan. You may know the Buffalo Bills player Shane Conlan, but that’s not my name’s origin. My Mom struggled with pregnancy, and when she finally got pregnant with me, she said it was like a savior that I came. Conlan, meaning Hero, was a clear choice to my parents when they found it.


Walking into SUNY Geneseo, I had no real expectations. All I knew was I would finally be on my own and make my own decisions. I grew up as an only child, so helicopter parents are understated. Beyond that, I had older college friends who had told me school stories. Most of them would say they hated it at first and that it took a while for them to settle in. I held this in my mind as I entered college, but not to my surprise, I was fine. It felt weird sleeping in a new bed, but from the second I walked into my dorm, I was hit with a wave of excitement and liberty. Honestly, I had chosen to have a random roommate for the fun of meeting a stranger, but we were very similar. We both like the same music and enjoy the same hobbies. I’m good at making friends, but it was nice to have someone to see the campus along with me initially. I had mixed feelings about classes. I knew they would be more strenuous than high school, but I hated how it was formatted. High school is chugging useless information and see if you can spit it out in a week while simultaneously learning nothing. Even after only being a college student for about two weeks, I already feel the difference. Classes feel more engaging, and I have to use critical thinking compared to memorization.


Taking this class is slightly unusual for me. Writing is not something that I particularly enjoy. Not because I don’t know what to say but because I don’t know how to put my words to paper. If you asked me to stand up and give a presentation on lions, I could do it perfectly, just off the top of my head. If you asked me to write a paper on lions, I would feel like the episode of Spongebob where he just wrote: “The” after an hour. I took this class because I want to improve my writing, more specifically, grammar and word formatting. Writing is a crucial life skill and will be something that I’ll use throughout my life. Beyond that, I want to learn to be a strong writer. I have a lot to say, and my lack of ability holds me back. Sometimes in my writing, I might leave out a good point I had just because I didn’t know how to word it.


In the book “They say, I say,” I recognized myself in the chapter talking about underquoting and overquoting. I had an avid problem with filling my writing with just quotes. I sometimes would do the opposite too. I would write an entire paper in my own words, then slap in one quote to hit a requirement. Beyond all, I’ve loved my time at Geneseo and this class so far. I’m very excited to see what the future holds.

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