The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

A not-so-manifested undergraduate

Hear ye, Hear ye,

Before I start all my ungrateful jibber jabber, let me just say that I appreciate all the feedback that I got on last week’s episode. I am glad to know that I’m not the only mofo out there with deconstructive classroom politics on the mind. However, for fear of burning pedagogical bridges or charging the entirety of Grinnell academics with being on its way to the glue factory, I will refrain from tackling any more of this “dream living” project for now. Instead, I would like to turn to a different but multifariously occurring impasse that has been particularly inconvenient over my travels in real life dream-land. I’m talking about the specific yet totalizing unproductive lifestyle that I’ve fallen into and how it makes me come across as a lazy sack of…

So here I am, inside on a beautiful afternoon, with an eye turned towards impending doom that comes as a no-surprise accompaniment to my inability to write a newspaper article in a timely fashion. Yet all I can think about is how this is not the first—and probably not the last—time that I have been entirely unable to produce any sort of work before its expected deadline. Many professors that have come to know me over the last 18 months might be familiar with this ever growing capacity of mine to willfully withstand the necessary grade demerit that accompanies handing in a paper two or three days after scheduled, if at all. While obviously wanting to reiterate all of the apologies I’ve made about such behavior in the past, I’m not looking to use this as an opportunity to make some sort of public confession. And while I can additionally grant that it might be beneficial to martyr myself on behalf of self-conscious underachievers worldwide, it is certainly not my M.O. Instead, my intention is simply to perform a diagnostic on the genesis of this malaise, that is, of my academic decomposition. Perhaps such an analysis, a look into why I feel like I’ve only grown further apart from your standard “self-sufficient self-starter” Grinnell College student type might just do the trick for finding the way off of this lazy susan and put some “life” back into this dream.

On Monday morning, I was confronted in my psychic life with the following rather pessimistic declaration. “I am routinely disappointed by my inability to follow through on all of my good ideas.” The example of choice was the Titular Head film that I had planned and designed at the end spring semester of my second year. So now we are talking two good years of incubation and cogitation only to wind up on the morning of “Day Due” with my head in my hands and my heart on my sleeve. All I could think of was how disappointed I was to have to leave this dream in the past tense with nothing else to show for it but a half-assed storyboard covered in dust above my refrigerator. “When did I get so lazy?” I thought. “How can things I enjoy still end up being so daunting that I’d rather spend life on the couch with Doritos, then putting in work on a dream?”

As far as I can remember, I’ve been one of those artsy fartsy creative types who’s excited about learning, putting his mind to things and more or less making time for projects and endeavors. I would have chewed your ear off about the extensive Lego universes that I erected on my dining room table between 1998 and 2000. But here I’ve been in college with opportunity after opportunity to dive into exciting and complicated texts, divergent theories and other books written by old white men, and yet I can’t quite seem to muster the same chutzpah.

The fear used to keep me going. Do you remember the fear? That type that tells you that if you happen to get below your expected GPA then you’ve somehow blown up your spot. But it would be too simple of an explanation to chalk up an inability to do work on time to a change in medication or for having spent a semester abroad. So what is it then about turning into a senior that taught me it’s ok to eat a down letter grade? How did I reach a point where starting assignments after the deadlines became the norm, not an exception to it?

My intermediately nuanced conception of psychology leads me to believe that it’s a heightened sense of fear and rejection that has made it so difficult for me to put the pedal to the metal, so the speak. It seems easier to put off the prospect of screwing up then to face it in spite of my dread. Why not take the movie or paper, these projects that I’ve grown emotionally invested in, and postpone them past the point of achieving perfection? That way, the bar is already set low, and you don’t have to risk having given it your all.

What will it take then to get the ball rolling? Sometimes it’s as simple as a choice. Other times it’s a good friend who knows the chords to strike to push you over the edge. Then you’ll find yourself trying to stay up all night in the CCL editing a film at the last minute, reminding yourself that the perfect project isn’t a perfect one, but one that gets finished. Yeah that’s it, the reminder. A reminder that the reason we do projects and papers is that we look forward to making them in the first place. We look forward to seeing our dreams come to fruition, not just having something to be judged and deemed worthy of our own or other’s high praise. The point of this crap is to go through it, not get through it to have a prize at the end. Forget all the expectations that you’ve brought onto yourself from your family, your school, or even yourself. The prize ain’t some turn around “Go,” but to have the courage to play the game in the first place. That’s where we’ll find all that we need to survive. Not satisfied? Deal with it.

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