Chapter 3, Part II: How Did Your Garden Grow?
When I read my thoughts at the start of junior year, it feels more like a musing upon a list, a quick blurb of “what I did over the summer” suitable for Facebook friends, catching upon with an acquaintance, or as a way to answer an interview question. It glosses over what I expected the next year to hold-my goals, my hopes, my dreams.
Until now, all my Year-in-Review reflections were written in one straight go—this year is the first where I can look back at where I was at the beginning and compare it to where I ended up.
If sophomore year was about enrichment, then junior year was growth- horizontally and vertically. I found myself standing straighter, walking taller, whenever I came in a room. Much of it was due to exposing myself to different facets of familiar ground.
I learned to ask, “so what?” I’ve always been involved in the day-to-day work of research, from logging in data to running behavioral tests. Now I had to learn to present it. Through conferences, student panels and FYSS sessions, I found myself translating what I did to others. Talking through about what my research actually was, why research, in general, was important, helped me hone into the “so what?” of discovery. As interesting as whatever you’re doing is, if it has no purpose, it won’t have the ability to capture others and motivate them as well. My own “so what?” lead me to “Because I can help others,” which pushed me to become more involved in mentoring, in teaching, and in my will to better myself.
I learned what power confidence has on your performance. My time in Peer Mentors was outstanding this year, something I looked forward to every week, and much of it was due to how I carried myself when I walked into that classroom every Tuesday. I was ready to interact, eager to be a resource. I came in with my shoulders back, a strength in my stance, and that feeling of power changed how I acted and how others acted around me. That third-year confidence translated everywhere, leading me to take more chances to consult with professors and professionals, engage in more discussion and try new experiences.
I learned to be more mindful in what I devoted my time to. I’ve always been good at following directions, but I haven’t always been good at seeing if that direction is taking me where I want to go. Reflections, a habit I got into through e-portfolio and internship reflections, made more mindful of what steps I take. I dropped Folklore Student Association because, although it would look nice and let me practice skills, it wasn’t something would help me grow. I put more effort into KindCarts, my crafting organization, because programming and service have become by-words of my own mission in life. I joined Wellness Ambassadors to gain more of a practicum into public health. Instead of just applying randomly to one of the senior class honoraries, I researched them in depth to see which would be a better fit for me. I ended up applying to Sphinx Senior Honorary because of the focus on community, and ran for Chaplain to be a part of creating it.
Junior year has been, thus far, the best year of my life. It was a time of growth that went inward and outward and brought me to a better, more aware, version of myself.