Becoming Better

15 May

“Back to school, back to school to prove to Dad I’m not a fool. Got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight…..oh, back to school….”

While heading back to school for the summer semester (after a very brief, albeit, much needed two week hiatus) may not be as dramatic for me as it was for Billy Madison (come on, don’t tell me that YOU can’t quote every line of that movie) the beginning of any semester always elicits excitement and thoughts of what potential the next few months might hold for me. Although going to school during the summer is probably my least favourite things to do, at least I’ll be spending my time studying something I love: Victorian Literature.

To be more specific: Victorian Poetry and Poetic Theory. I’m sure that some of you are now rolling your eyes, but that’s ok. I’m a straight up, certifiable, reading glasses wearing nerd… and proud of it! I really do love to learn. I’m a Chapters junkie; I could spend hours there browsing through endless categories of books. It’s an indulgence I’ve learned to curb given that I live around the corner from one. (I now frequent the library that is directly across from my living room; much better for the pocketbook!) Nothing thrills me more than being able to read a text and then discuss its deeper meanings and implications with like minded peers. Connecting ideas and themes is what I live for!! Unfortunately, there is a down side to all this love and appreciation for the learning process. I hate writing. Hate isn’t even a strong enough word… I loathe writing.

I realize that this may appear to be a strange confession coming from someone who now chooses to spend her free time writing a blog. But I honestly, (and I tell people this all the time…and I mean it) would rather give birth again, naturally, than ever be forced to write another academic paper. Something about having to reach a deadline, writing on a specific topic, that must be well defined, argued and supported by academic journals, being no less than 3000 words, makes me want to poke myself in the eye. Don’t get me wrong, I can do it and my efforts are usually rewarded with a reasonable mark. It’s the process that I hate. I end up forcing myself to sit for hours on end in front of a computer screen with a cold cup of coffee (I never drink it fast enough for it to stay warm) using any possible means to distract myself, to find a short cut to wrap everything up or use any ridiculous combination of words to reach the minimum requirement. And to top it all off, I’m really not that pleasant to be around come term paper time.

This semester will be a true test of my ability to suffer through this abhorrent method of putting words in order to resemble something of value. However, I feel that I will rise to meet this challenge mainly because of my wonderful and brilliant professor. I say this without the slightest hint of sarcasm. I’ve had the privilege to spend two previous semesters with her and I am well aware of what her expectations are for her students. But for some reason, it seems as though this time around she has upped her requirements for us. The level of critical thinking and analysis that she expects from our writing this semester is nothing short of daunting and migrain-inducingly intense. Already I’ve been thinking to myself, “I can’t do this!! I’m not smart enough….” However, I’m slowly beginning to realize that her intentions with such high expectations are meant to draw forth another response rather than just self doubt.

She believes in us. At the third and fourth year level many of us have been around long enough to know what is required to merely squeak by or to truly excel in any given course. Now, this professor wants to see what we’re truly made of. I have no doubt that if I stop whining and complaining about having to think so much and put my thoughts together in full sentences and paragraphs, I will actually learn something of deeper value. Because my professor is willing to challenge us beyond what has previously been expected of us, I think that many of us will rise to the occasion and become better writers. Or maybe even further still, overall better people…

If anyone ever has the chance to take an English course at UFV or SFU, let me know and I’ll pass along her name!! I highly recommend taking even one course with her.

Is there something in your life that you’re passionate about? Are you passionate to the point that you begin to see the potential in others around you to reach the same level of commitment or knowledge that you’ve achieved? Do you have someone in your life who believes in you so much that they are willing to make you uncomfortable enough to reevaluate what you think about yourself and then begin to challenge you to achieve something greater? I earnestly hope that each and everyone of you have someone you can turn to that will encourage to strive for more than you ever thought possible, no matter your passion, (or lack of passion, as in my case) may be.

Billy Madison – “May God Have Mercy on Your Soul”

Hee, hee!!

 

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