Thoughts on Failure

The transcript of this video is below.

Parents care a lot about grades. They want their kids to get into a good school to get a good job.

But who defines good?

It’s not a word that dictates any more about a person than the buzzwords on their resume.

My freshman year of high school I would cry over my math homework at the desk in our living room. No matter how much effort I put into studying, I never felt like I understood what I needed to do to succeed.

I never felt good about my work or the class. I asked the teacher for help, but that never felt like enough.

One day while crying over a failed test my mom asked me: “Did you try?”

I told her I asked the teacher for help after school, I did extra homework problems. Whatever the teacher recommended, I did.

She then asked, “Did you do everything you could?”

I told her yes.

She patted my back and hugged me. “Then you gave it your best. It’s okay that you’re not good at math. At least you can say you tried.”

Failure sucks. It is the worst feeling to know you didn’t succeed somewhere that you should have. But failure or the feeling of failure isn’t something to look at negatively.

If you tried and did all you could, then you didn’t fail.

You did your best.

It’s okay to not be good at something.

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So it goes.

The transcript of this video is below.

As a freshman, my friend Jess told me that the next four years would fly by. Time is a goon.

It’s the weekend before finals, and as I and my peers write term papers and rehearse presentations, I’m faced with bidding farewell to a place I’m privileged to call home. This bittersweet experience makes my throat get tight and my eyes well.

For the first time in four years, I’m going to pack up my room and not move across campus for the summer. I won’t walk into the Office of Residence Life for work and spend my evenings hanging out with friends on the RA staff.

College is this strange time in your life where you are figuring out who you are. A process that doesn’t stop after you put on the cap and gown.

In two weeks I’m going to cross a stage and be given a diploma. A piece of paper that represents my academic achievement. What it doesn’t show is the tears, mental breakdowns, coffee cups, laughter, late nights, and friends I gained along the way.

I grew far more at college than I ever would have anticipated. That growth changed me for the better, even though at times it didn’t feel worth it.

Wherever I end up I will have these memories to look back on. They say when one door closes, another opens. But this feels like more than that. This is more than closing a chapter of my life.

So it goes.

Walden & Senior Year

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”  – Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

I hated reading Walden for my senior American Lit Seminar class.

Some of that might be because I kept falling asleep while reading the selected chapters . And others is because if I were an editor, there were a lot of sections I would have entirely cut for how useless they seemed. But I’m also wondering if I didn’t read the right sections at the right time, or because I was reading it for school my amount of analysis of the book was purely academic.

While writing my final essay for that class, I had to connect three or four of the novels together under one theme. For whatever reason I picked Walden, a strange decision given my strong feelings about the book. As I flipped through it looking for the quotes I needed, I found the quote I used at the start of the post.

I reread it several times and highlighted it.

My high school classmates are married, and some with children. I’m finishing up the Fall semester of my senior year of college. As I write this I’m procrastinating on a ten-page paper (my last final), and completing four more grad school app essays.

Life has taken me in many different directions, all off the beaten path. And I don’t regret it. The drum beat of my life has driven me to pursue my passion and given me opportunities I only dreamed of in high school.

For what its worth, keeping pace with others is a lose-lose situation. You’ll feel like you’re always behind, and that life is unfair. And that can damage your relationships with others because you might feel jaded. Comparing myself to my friends was more detrimental than it was encouraging.

Figuring out what I needed to be happy was all it took for me to be more complacent with what I have and what I’m doing. Listening to the rhythm of my own path was the smartest decision I’ve ever made.

Comic Review: Fun Home

This semester my school offered a Young Adult Literature class. And I had the joy of making it into the course with one of my favorite teachers and several of my good friends.

Our third book of the semester was Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

Surprisingly, I had not read this book up yet (I don’t think it was on my summer list either). I know, I know. My gay self should void my queer card because its taken so long for me to read the number one book on the LGBTQ+ required reading list. Woops. At least that’s fixed now?

51ocqhn1kol-_sx332_bo1204203200_Without further adieu, let’s talk about Fun Home.

Fun Home is a memoir by Alison Bechdel in which Alison writes about her childhood, her family, and her journey of identity and self.

This graphic novel has so much depth. With literary and cross-discipline references, it can be a daunting read. But I promise you those references truly open up the book.

Upon my first read, I made notes as I went, of places where I wanted to go back. And now that I’m going through again, I am in awe of Bechdel’s writing. There’s hidden details in the references, in the details about her father, the vocabulary, and things I did not put together the first time.

The parallels, the crosses, the convergence and divergence. When people joke that “graphic novels aren’t literature,” I want to point them at this book.

The single-volume memoir’s frames are engaging, and lend much to the story. Without them I don’t think the prose could stand alone nearly as well. And I think that’s what makes Fun Home work so well in this form.

Bechdel planned this graphic novel with such precision that the larger picture of woven memories, family details, and conclusions, wrapped in literary and philosophical references creates an impressive work that lends a voice to the deceased, Bruce Bechdel. All of these details allow for the reader to draw their own conclusions while also growing with Alison, and feeling her emotions grip you right through the page.

I would recommend Fun Home to anyone that wants to experience another memoir in such a unique format. Don’t be afraid to highlight or mark spots where you might not understand. I promise it’s worth it. However, if you’re not in the mood to do that much research, stay tuned to my blog and my YouTube channel. I’m working on some scripts and videos that will cover not only my thoughts on Fun Home, but also will explain the references more in-depth.

What were your thoughts on Fun Home? Did you think the graphic novel was too literary? Would you be interested in learning more about the depths of the novel? Want more information about the cross-discipline references? Let me know in the comments below!

fun-home-1

FLOTUS on Campus

Its been nearly a week since First Lady Michelle Obama came to my college campus to campaign for Hillary Clinton and gave the speech that everyone was talking about.

I’ve listened to the speech a couple of times in the last week, and I still get chills.

All I got was an email during class asking for female students interested in being in the front row hearing FLOTUS speak on Thursday, within thirty minutes of it being announced by the President of our university. Of course I was going to reply and say yes.

This was the First Lady of the United States coming to my campus. How cool was that?

As the hours passed, I started to get more and more details, and the day before I made the necessary arrangements for work shift coverage.

Thursday morning arrived, and I was standing with students. Up and down the line, students, staff and faculty were dressed to impress (myself included). After passing through the airport-like security, we packed into the gym.

And then we waited.

I stood reading a book – my line-waiting activity a standard from all of my convention experience.

After about two and a half hours, First Lady Michelle Obama came on stage in much the same fanfare as a rock star. Loud cheers, screams, and people hoping for some acknowledgement from one of the most graceful humans on the planet.

As I stood on two textbooks and recorded her speech, I realized this was not a chance I would have normally had. Attending college has enabled me with opportunities. So many that I don’t think I can recall those that I have taken and those that I haven’t. Nonetheless, they are experiences that I won’t forget anytime soon.

At one point in middle school, a teacher explained to us what carpe diem meant. Back then, I don’t think I understood the application as much as I have in the last several years. Its a lesson that has become more and more relevant.

Opportunities come from all directions, from unexpected places. They aren’t chances to be wasted.

I’m so unbelievably thankful to have gotten the opportunity to see the First Lady speak. Skipping class, and getting out of work was worth it.

How do you decide?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question we’re asked from when we’re little kids all the way up to our senior year of high school, and even through the college years.

Its a big question. And not an easy one to answer at 5, 18, or even now at 26.

I remember saying to my mom that I wanted to be an astronaut, or a pilot. Later a firefighter, or an architect. And for a short time, a meteorologist (all because of the jackets the King 5 anchors wore).

As I got older, I realized that so many of those careers involved math. And numbers aren’t my thing. Give me some statistics, and already compiled data, and I’m completely happy with those. But ask me to figure out the answer to an equation, and I’m out the door.

The last three years of school have taught me what I’m good at, but just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean that’s where your passion is. I’m good at the jobs I do because I don’t like to give anything less than 100%.

It comes as no surprise that the last three years at school have led me in a variety of directions that I’ve enjoyed; student involvement, diversity, residence life, social media, and creative writing. With the first month of my senior year nearly complete, I have come to a turning point: what do I pursue in higher education?

I’m happy with all of the extra curricular activities I’ve participated in. But how will that all balance out in the end?

I know I want to work on a college campus, but ultimately, I transferred to SNHU for it’s academics. The Creative Writing Program was impressive, and has pushed me and my writing in a direction that I like.

Its time to fill out those applications, take the GREs, compile my recommendation letters, and hope for the best.

All of those steps are a daunting process now that my research is done. I need to sit, put my headphones on, and get all the applications done. And then take everything else one piece at a time.

Last but not least is the waiting.

The schools I’m looking at are all over the country. I have an ideal path under the hopes that everything falls into place. And then there’s the backups.

Will I end up back on the West Coast? Or perhaps I’ll suddenly be farther north? What about moving to the Midwest?

My next move makes my heart pound.

Move-In

Its hard to imagine that at this time four years ago, I got on a plane and flew to the East Coast for the first time to start my first year at college. And its even crazier to think that my very first year here would set up quite the chain of events that have shaped me so much.

This is my last year as an undergrad. My last year as an RA and ARA, where I’ve learned so much, and found a calling to higher education.

It won’t hit me that its my last year until I’m done with my last final before graduation, or signed off of my last night on duty. Or maybe when I’m showing my family around New Hampshire when they finally come to visit (for my graduation no less).

I went home for my mom’s wedding in April and family that I hadn’t spoken to very much told me that they followed how I was doing on Facebook. They spoke highly of how much I had thrived being away from family and close friends. I wasn’t sure what they meant, and shrugged it off; but I understand what they mean now.

In the last four years I’ve gained confidence. This assurance has led me to doubt myself less – though sometimes those thoughts still sneak in. I feel more comfortable in my own skin. My social circles have changed with new faces.

On Wednesday, my Fall classes for senior year start, and so does my search for grad schools. Part of that search is meeting with many of the people around campus that I can call my mentors. They’ll help guide me in making choices that could steer me in a wide variety of ways.

I have all of my end goals in mind. It ultimately comes down to how I hope to achieve them.

Here’s to senior year.

Comic reviews will return soon! RA training has kept me busy, and I didn’t have time or energy to schedule posts to go up while I was busy. But fear not, I have read several comics that I can write reviews for so that way there won’t be as big of a drought.