Five Takeaways from the Semester So Far

The past week yielded a Wellness Day for students, faculty, and staff at Kean University, and in the spirit of recognizing why it is important to sometimes slow down, listen to all the ambient sounds, and smell the roses, I thought it would only be appropriate to reflect on five personal and major takeaways from this spring semester thus far. 

  1. Blossoming Friendships! 
    • Despite the semester remaining online, it didn’t hinder many of us in the program from discovering a few more important pieces of one another and bonding. From memes to music tastes to our taste buds, there was almost nothing off-limits for discovery and critique. Sure, alfredo being disgusting isn’t the most popular opinion, but it did at least get a conversation going and built solidarity amongst a few people. 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel alone through a screen, but it’s far more special to know that you’ve built something to look forward to when there is a return to in-person. 

  1. What Will Be…
    • There are, of course, still some things that are out of our control in life, and as the saying goes, “What will be, they say, will be.” It’s been tough to rationalize that there will be days where being in front of the screen will not be fun and feel impossible at times. There are days when no one wants to look for a silver lining, but sometimes, a slow climb beats a sprint. 

But, there is a virtue in slowing down and looking through, instead of around the lights. 

  1. Made In Hollywood! 
    • This was a song that got our entire Thursday night class talking about how just the tune of music can make it seem like hope is lurking around the corner. It was the perfect way to set a tone for class; there was a groove going, and you could just feel the shift in the air! 

We’ll dream about it, talk about it, and we can’t live without it…      

  1. Hard to Make A Stand!
    • Sometimes, you have to wrangle your nerves in yourself, and sometimes, you get to have it done vicariously through other outlets. It’s an oddity for sure, but I owe a thank you to the New Jersey Devils and New York Mets for providing me with so much content for six-word stories that have amused both classmates and fellow fans on the Internet alike! 

There have also been memes inspired by other teams in the NHL and MLB, namely the infamous Nate MacKinnon helmet toss, but there have also been the heartwarming cat pictures, sincere attempts at making original memes, and so many ways to make the old new yet again. 

  1. A Change Would Do You Good! 
    • Since starting the MA Writing Studies program, there is no doubt in my mind that my perspective on education has changed, but so has my idea of what it means to care, and to be cared for. Right now, it feels as though a chrysalis for the rest of my life is starting to open up. 

Any given moment can change your life; you just have to be there. 

For this week’s wellness and writing activity, try to think of five takeaways from your own semester!

Getting Gritty with It!

Firstly, I would like to start this post by thanking my colleague, Amber, for introducing the writing and wellness series and its purpose in a succinct and empathetic manner. It’s never been easy to start a conversation regarding ideas of wellness and self-care in such a fast-paced and rapidly changing society, and it hasn’t gotten any easier with a pandemic that has pushed it to the forefront in an almost toxic, fear-of-missing-out manner. But, we are here to persevere and break new ground together! 

This week, what I found to be a most interesting idea for us to work with came from the school of positive psychology, with the idea of grit. Grit, according to Angela Duckworth, the primary researcher on this topic, is best defined as the ability of an individual to sustain interest and dedication toward a specific goal, no matter what comes in between or how they ultimately reach their desired destination. In terms of our studies, the end goal is always clear; to get through a class, a semester, a degree. But what about beyond that? What is it that we value, and where is it that we want to steer ourselves? 

If you’re anything like me, there are a million and one thoughts racing through your mind right now about everything you may have left unsaid, things you have yet to do, so on and so forth. But, consider how the principle of grit can not only settle these thoughts but also steer our writing and creative processes. As a writing prompt of sorts, try to map out these questions and see what sort of intrinsic findings you come across: 

  1. How do you normally deal with hardships? What is it about failure that either excites or scares you? 
  2. What is it that is keeping you engaged with your current project? Is there a very deep, personal meaning for you?
  3. At the end of this project, what is it that you hope to see reflected? What do you hope others will see?

Remember, you can look at these questions from any angle and map out your responses in any sort of manner. Diagrams, drawings, a creative response, even a stream-of-consciousness rant are all fair game here. Perhaps, if we are able to layout these framework-oriented thoughts, the road ahead may become just a bit clearer. 

Be sure to check back for our next writing and wellness activity! Share out how you approached this, and interact with us on Twitter @KUWSP, or on Instagram @ku_wp.