In class it was said that writing in and of itself will generate ideas. In an effort to undermine the mutually-reinforcing, lifelong habit of perfectionism and procrastination, I am going to do this reflection assignment right now. This gets it out of the way, and a time deadline (forty minutes) keeps me from agonizing over it.
I had thought that more specific requirements for this assignment would have been on blackboard or the course outline somewhere; these were nowhere to be found. This seems to be par for course in this class; I anticipate it will challenge another deeply-ingrained habit; ie, trying to figure everything out on my own. I am going to assume then, that this assignment is exactly as informal as was indicated in class; if I cannot trust my perceptions to impose a reliable form of order on the world, I hope I can trust my comprehension of what was said in the lecture today.
I haven’t said much about myself in the past few paragraphs, but I have probably given a few things away indirectly. It would be reasonable to assume that I am a very cautious, meticulous, untrusting person from what I’ve written so far; that assumption would be correct. Recent and historical life experiences have revealed the lies in many assumptions of order; as a result, I test the waters in many life situations and have a difficult time trusting any decision deeply enough to commit to it wholeheartedly. This hasn’t worked very well, and I am attempting to develop coping strategies that will, to borrow the phrase used in class, maximize my outcomes in life. Many of these strategies involve re-training my mind; right now these efforts are oriented towards reducing the anxiety that forms the background noise to my consciousness and makes every activity seem like a life-or-death situation. The emotional and intellectual paralysis that results from this hasn’t facilitated success in life, and I would like that to change. This is actually one of the many reasons I am choosing to stay in this class; there may be an intimidating 65-page paper due by the end of it, but I anticipate that the process will help me develop the skills I need to manage perfectionism and procrastination more sucessfully.
So, I am a perfectionist, cautious, and anxious. Perhaps I could say something that would make me seem somewhat endearing as well. It was suggested in class that many of us have extraordinary talents and exciting life experiences. I suppose I could say that I do; I have another life outside of academia in which I perform in burlesque troupes, dance, and model. Over the past summer, I learned how to teach yoga; I feel extremely fortunate to be paid to do something I love after working the gamut of part-time student jobs for well over a decade. After a ten-year hiatus, I am teaching myself how to play music again. I used to consider myself a fairly creative person, and over the years I have let many of those talents atrophy. My only outlet now is writing; because that is associated with academia I have to fight a great deal of emotional baggage when I write. Since I have fewer expectations of other forms of expression, these activities help me put that “inside world” out there more effectively than writing does sometimes.
To define myself by my work, I am taking a major in Women’s Studies and a minor in Political Science. This is a worthwhile pursuit in my mind because I have always been interested social justice issues; I am interested in learning about the ways in which social structures and power dynamics within society shape our identities, the opportunities we have in life, and how we experience, understand, and explain the world. Consequently, this is also why I am interested in social psychology. It might not fit “exactly” but it will (hopefully) explain the relationship between who we are on an internal level and what exists (or what we think exists) in the external world. I am particularly interested using some of my journaling in this class as a forum for an interdisciplinary conversation. I know some of the schools of thought I have encountered through Women’s Studies and in courses on the sociology of gender tend to take issue with some of the perspectives that inform mainstream psychology (particularly evolutionary psychology). I am interested in learning about the “other side,” if only to enrich my understanding of my own discipline’s perspective (and even to modify or change my ideas in light of new information).I found some of the comments made in the first lecture somewhat amusing, simply because I haven’t made it through to latter portions of my undergraduate degree under the delusion that I am an individual. In many ways, I am likely typical of someone my gender and socio-economic class background. However, recent life experiences have inspired me to look a bit deeper into “who I am” to draw out which aspects of my identity and behaviors are simply reactions to my social environment, how much of that is really “me,” or if it is even possible to sort out the difference between the two. I am willing to take on the challenges of this course (65-page paper and all) in order to find out a bit more what “human agency” really means.