Friday, February 24, 2012

Choice Evaluation

Last time I blogged I shared an essay that I had written and then spoken about during my senior year of high school. At the end of the essay my teacher has written me a note, and in it she states that having read the essay she wonders what I would consider a good “choice” and recommends perhaps adding that to my essay in any future revision. If I ever did revise the essay further, I can’t seem to find it now... so I’m not sure what my answer would have been then.

But reading that comment now, nearly five years later, makes me wonder, what do I consider to be a good “choice”? How does my answer now, change from the answer that I would have given nearly five years ago?

I am fairly certain that five years ago this question would have baffled me. I would have likely spent hours in front of a blank computer screen trying to rationalize why exactly I was so befuddled. I’m sure I could have come up with vague ideas of what exactly a “good” or “proper” choice would be, but I think I would have a hard time pinpointing my own self proclaimed “good choices”.

I likely would have rambled around the question much like I just did, and eventually walk away without having really answered at all.

But it is a valid question.

For instance, out of high school I attended a community college for two years before transferring to Michigan State University. MSU was always the goal, and it was my “choice” to defer going immediately out of high school in order to forgo at least a portion of the debt that going immediately would incur.

Quite frankly I knew that I could not afford to attend immediately and did not want to be saddled with a ridiculous amount of debt at the end of my education, when there was another path that I could choose that would ultimately lead to the same result.

These were the reasons behind my choice and for me these reasons validated it as a good one at the time, and still do.

But the thing to be aware of here is that every choice ultimately leads to a new one. Or maybe more precisely new opportunities, the choice that I’ve outlined above, driven by financial reasoning, is an honest reflection of why I made the choice I did and why I thought it a good one at the time. However, after having spent that year at MSU I am able to see that choice in an all-new light.

Let’s be clear, I still feel that Michigan State is where I needed to be and it was a good choice, but I feel that the choice to go there in particular allowed me to come to understand something even more important; sometimes the choices that we make are not really the choices we originally believe them to be.

Allow me to explain.

I originally decided that Michigan State was going to be my collegiate goal at some point during my Junior year of high school. In my research of Journalism schools, I uncovered MSU to be one of the top Journalism schools in Michigan. I choose MSU because they were the best, and I believe that you should always strive to for greatness.

Why give 100% when you can strive for 110%?

So, for the approximately four years between deciding MSU was the goal and actually getting accepted and going, I saw it as a good choice because of the prestige I could earn by having gotten my degree there.

Today, and actually for at least the last two years or so, I’ve begun to see deciding on MSU and ultimately going there to have been a good choice because of the experiences that I had while I was there. I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, renew my relationship with God and ultimately learn a lot about myself.

It wasn’t just a learning experience, but really a chance to grow and mature and find my footing as the adult that I am and everyday continue to become. Life, after all, is a continual learning experience.

I’m confident that had I not had that year at Michigan State I would not be where I am now in my life, and that would be a shame. Maybe I didn’t actually complete the goal I set out for, which was to graduate from MSU, but that ok because sometimes when we encounter circumstances beyond our control we learn that God has plans larger for us than we could ever imagine for ourselves.

My lack of a degree therefore isn’t a statement to the wrongness of my choices, because the experiences that my choices allowed me to have confirmed that it was the right one.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thoughts on Public Speaking

I was recently talking with someone and the conversation turned to public speaking. The entity of this particular conversation isn’t so important, so much as it allows me to launch into my real purpose for blogging today.

Public speaking is a widely feared activity. There are many would rather do just about anything to get out of standing in front of a crowd of people, be they familiar or strangers, and speak. It is both a persistent and staggeringly paralyzing fear.

I’m sure there is some psychology-based reason for this fear, but quite frankly I am not hosting a lecture on psychology here and so I’ll spare you that conversation.

Moving right along, I don’t fall into the category of people that fear speaking in public. While I do become obscenely terrified in the presence of spiders, I don’t mind getting up in front of a crowd of people. Give me a room full of people as opposed to one itty-bitty spider any day.

Regardless of any of the above ponderings, my true point in writing this evening is that the conversation I originally mentioned has lead to my recalling an essay that I wrote, and later spoke about, my senior year of high school. The essay was written as a creative piece for my Advanced Placement English class, presenting it happened purely by chance.

We were scheduled to have a Senior Academic Awards night, and at the last minute, quite literally a couple of day’s prior, they decided that they wanted to have a student speaker at the event. Naturally they turned to the AP English class. When they pitched the opportunity no one immediately jumped at the chance, which now that I think about it is a bit strange, even stranger though was that I found myself raising my hand and volunteering to speak at the event in a room full of fellow seniors, their parents, and several staff members.

At any rate, this is the piece that I ended up sharing with those at the event:

The following is based on this prompt: What is your favorite word and why?

“Spoken Definition”

Words are exceptionally powerful. While we have all heard some variation of the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, I can guarantee that no matter how many times you repeat it, the saying will never come any closer to the truth. In fact, the things that we say are often more powerful and, depending on the situation, have the capability to do more damage or good than our actions. This is why when speaking we must choose our words carefully; it is also one of the reasons why choice is my favorite word.

Choice is important to me because the ability to choose allows me to control certain aspects of my life, whether it is as simple as what shirt I wear in the morning or something larger, such as my future career. After all, it is the choices that we make that not only determine where we end up, but more importantly define who we are. I rely heavily on my ability to make my own choices in order to establish who I am and to allow myself the opportunity to become the person that I want to be.

The importance of choice also comes into play when I am speaking with other people or trying to express myself in some way. If my words are ill chosen, then the message I am trying to convey is more susceptible to being misconstrued or lost completely. Choice becomes increasingly important when people’s ability to understand where I am coming from and what I am talking about is left hanging in the balance.

Choice is my favorite word because it embodies the idea that I am in control of the direction of my life it is a powerful word that, to me, signifies that my choices define who I am, despite the opinions of others. In another respect, words are powerful and they should be chosen carefully. Word choice, and good choices in general, become increasingly important when I am attempting to convey a particular message. Ultimately, choice is my favorite word, because the choice’s that I make are the largest reflection of who I am, and who I one day wish to become.

What about you? How do you feel about public speaking? Is there a particular word that resonates with you?


If you have, by chance, made it this far, I’d like to let you know that this year’s blogging goal is to blog once a month. I fully intend to hold up to this goal better than I did last years. Please feel free to keep me accountable.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh, hello.

Just so you know, I didn't happen to stumble into a black hole or anything like that. Though, I suppose that would be a far more interesting tale concerning my blogging absence than the actual reason for my absence.

I want to be honest with you here, and in all honesty my absence can't even be attributed to a lack of things to say... because I have plenty to say even when I don't feel like I do... and it can't be attributed to a lack of time, because while time may always be fairly scarce when you have as many things going on as I do, I still find the time for facebook, so blogging should be simple enough.

No my dear blog, it seems that I fell into that 'funk' that I find myself routinely falling into every couple of months. You know the one, it's when you feel as though you have been boxed into a corner, and no matter what you do you cannot escape that corner. I find that in those quiet moments in which I am left to myself I begin to feel a kind of suffocation that can only be attributed to too much introspection.

But I couldn't even bring myself to put words to the feeling until I happened to come across a letter of sorts that I had written to a friend when they were feeling a bit bummed out, and in that letter I happened to quote this verse: "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him." - Isaiah 30:18

It was that verse that brought me away from the overwhelming introspection that I have lately been indulging in and brought me back to the present. It reminded me that patience is the key to calming my heart.

At any rate it is a bit late, and my day starts early tomorrow. I hope my ramblings here have made some sort of sense, and starting tomorrow I plan to dive in and begin where I left off on the 30 day challenge. I may not have stuck to the schedule but I plan to finish it reguardless.

I'll talk to you soon.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 46: HP Challenge Day 12 and 13: Favorite ship? Least Favorite movie?

Question Day 12: What is your favorite 'ship'?

As far as the core books go, I don't dispute any of the original pairings, they all work and make sense and are just generally the way that things are in the series. Probably my favorite ship in the core series is Remus and Tonks. They are such opposites and yet they make so much sense.

Going outside of the core series, I really enjoy reading fanfaction that ships Hermione and Fred. There really isn't any basis for this pairing in the books, but I've just read some excellently written fanfiction that ships these two and in that context it just works. Besides, if you've been following along this month, you also know that Fred is my favorite male character.

Question Day 13: What is your least favorite of the series movies?

Earlier in the month I noted that the third movie is the one that made me "angry" because it left out a lot of the details from the book. It's the least true to the books because there are a lot of important details that are glossed over due to time constraints.

For these same reasons it is my least favorite movie in the series, even though I've since taken to recognizing the movies and books as separate entities.

I'll talk to you soon.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Week 45: HP Challenge Day 11: Most like what character?

Day 11 Question: What character are you most like?

I am Neville Longbottom.

Neville is a character that doesn't necessarily make the biggest impression early in the series. I mean really he's just known for being extremely forgetful and a bit clumsy. He's not the most popular guy in school, and definitely takes a fair amount of teasing from his peers.

But Neville really emerges as a leader as the novels progress. In the presence of other leaders he knows how to follow and take direction, but when a leader is needed he's able to step up to the plate. He also has a strong sense of loyalty, and of right and wrong.

Neville truly is a courageous character, and he's willing to stand up for what he believes in even as he recognizes the danger that standing up can create.

Neville is the quiet one that you have to look out for... just like me.

What character are YOU most like?

I'll talk to you soon.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week 45: HP Challenge Day 9 and 10: Least Favorite Male? Horcruxes or Hallows?

Question Day 9: Who is your least favorite male character in the series?

Much like answering the similar question of who my least favorite female character is, this is a tough one to answer. While it may be easy to pick out one of the "villains" or more disagreeable characters as a least favorite... it's not really because it is those qualities that make them interesting.

Each character serves a greater purpose to the plot.

If I absolutely had to name one of the male characters as my least favorite it would have to be Luna's father, whose first name escapes me at the moment. Yes, I could look it up instead admitting that I don't recall it, but I don't feel like looking it up so for now we're sticking with calling him Mr. Lovegood.

He would be my least favorite because while he shows the promise of standing up, and serving on the forefront of the 'rebellion' through his magazine he doesn't show the resolve to stand by that stance by the last book. I understand they took Luna and he was seeking to save her... but does he really believe Harry Potter of all people wouldn't aid Luna?

See why I said this is difficult. I would choose him as my least favorite for the reasons that I've listed, and yet even as I've listed them I've managed to rationalize why he would do the things that he did.

Question Day 10: Which concept did you most enjoy, Horcruxes or Hallows?

While the background on the Hallows was interesting and kind of cool, I think that tidbit would have been a little more interesting if some of the ideas had been sprinkled in the previous books so that there may have been more of a basis for them. They introduced a little late in the game I think.

The Horcruxes though, I found really cool. While it's true the term is made up, so there was no way you could learn the term prior to the final book, you may have been able to puzzle some of it out ahead of time.

I was interesting to learn near the end how some of the destroyed objects from previous books linked back to Voldemort's final undoing.

I'll talk to you soon. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Week 45: HP Challenge Day 8: Favorite Lesson?

Today's Question: What do you think would be your favorite lesson?

I think that my favorite lesson would be Defense Against the Dark Arts. Now, to specify this, because the class takes many forms through-out the books, I would specifically most enjoy Remus Lupin's version of the class in book three.

I like how in that book, of all of them, the class is the most practical. They are actually learning and using spells that they will eventually need in their fight against Voldemort in the coming years. In many ways that year of Defense Against the Dark Arts serves as a kind of basis for Dumbledore's Army in later books.

The two are very similar on comparison. As a side note Transfiguration is a quick second.

I'll talk to you soon.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Week 45: HP Challenge Day 6 and 7: Dream House? Favorite Female?

Yesterday was an exceptionally long day. By the time I finally got home all I really wanted to do was get some sleep, in preparation for today, which turned into a moderately long day... At any rate, I chose to skip posting a mediocre entry last night in favor of catching up with a more thought out entry today.

You deserve better than something that's just been thrown together for the sake of something having been posted. So without any further delay...

Day 6 Question: What house would you want to be in?

There isn't a doubt in my mind that my first choice would be Gryffindor. I mean, it's a house that prizes bravery, daring, nerve and chivalry. I've never imagined myself in any other house, never really considered the other houses all that much. For my part, this may be largely because the bulk of the major main characters in the novels ARE in Gryffindor...

Although, as I've pondered this question further, Ravenclaw would most certainly be my second choice as far as houses that I'd want to be in. I mean they're all about intelligence, knowledge and wit and I consider myself a HUGE bookwork. I'm constantly seeking out new information and learning new things. In fact considering the characteristics that are most valued in Ravenclaw, I probably more strongly personify that house than I do Gryffindor...

Diverging slightly from the question however, in all actuality, I'd probably end up being a Hufflepuff because the characteristics most associated with that house are hard work, patience, loyalty and fair play. Each of those are things that I believe deeply in and try to practice daily, with more success some days than others. While none of these are bad things, I don't know... I'd probably be a Hufflepuff, but I'd prefer to be a Gryffindor or Ravenclaw.

Day 7 Question: Who is your favorite female character and why?

I love Professor McGonagall. I just really think that she is amazing. It's such a fun progression in the books going from 1-7, because you learn so much about all of the characters, and she's one you're introduced to very early in the book.

She's tough and sticks to her guns, and she's the ultimate Gryffindor. I just really love some of the contrasts that you see in her character. She's that professor that every once and a while surprises you with her wit. She disarms you.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Week 44: HP Challenge Day 5- Favorite Male?

Today's challenge question: Who is your favorite male character in the Harry Potter series?

My favorite male character is definitely Fred Weasley. Now that I'm really thinking about this choice though I can't pin-point whether he is my favorite based on the books or ALL the fanfiction that I read while waiting for new books in the series to be released.

I mean, I can easily state that I really enjoy the Weasley twin's in the series itself. They bring a lot of necissary comedic relief to some of the darker moments in the books. I mean, if you really consider some of the pranks that they pull, they're geniuses, and just because they're pranksters they aren't often recognized for that genius.

I takes a lot of talent and ingenuity to come up with some of the things that they do. I certainly wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of that duo...

So as far as the series goes, I can't really pinpoint what it is about Fred that makes him my favorite as opposed to Fred. Truly, the only reason I can find for the preference is some of the fanfiction that I've read (and loved) through the years that has truly fleshed out Fred as a character.

Who's you're favorite male character from the series and why? (Come on, you know you want to answer!)

I'll talk to you soon.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Week 44: HP Challenge Day 4- Least Favorite Female?

Today's Question: Who is your least favorite female character and why?

I have sat here for a good twenty minutes trying to figure out my answer for this question, and I'm honestly not certain that I have one. Obviously there are many female villians in the Harry Potter books, but i wouldn't say that any of them are my least favorite because they each serve their purpose. Each of them bring something to the table and are interesting in their own right.

I guess the most honest and accurate answer to today's question is that I don't really have a least favorite female character, and least not one that currently stands out in my mind.