Maybe it was the chaos of senior year, the insanity of coronavirus throughout the latter half of this semester, or just time passing as it does, but this experience flew by. While I don't think I'm anywhere near done exploring writing, I want to wrap up the Honors side of things with a few remarks.
First and foremost, I'm pleasantly surprised with how things have gone. In almost all of my reflective posts, I've commented on how intimately nerves have played into my writing. I've been scared of letting people read my writing, scared of talking to people about writing, scared of even taking the first steps towards putting my writing out there. Through this experience I've overcome each of those fears...I've really done it. For literal years I've sat on my writing, hiding it as if it was a weird hobby, as if anyone knowing about it would bring judgement and criticism. What I experienced through this journey was the exact opposite. My adviser, my support network, my readers, have all had nothing but positive comments. Maybe it is because I'm only starting out and I haven't put enough out there to warrant much criticism, but the endorsement I've received from everyone has switched my perspective on writing. I've realized that I was the one with the misconception and if anything, I was the only one viewing my work negatively.
Secondly, I find myself to be in the middle of a difficult, yet exciting, learning curve. When it comes to publishing my writing, I didn't accomplish as much as I had set out to do, and I think that's because embarking on this experience showed me how much scarier that is in reality; it was so simple to outline my experience with lofty goals of weekly publications and say yeah, of course I can do that. But when it came around to it, that long-ingrained fear (I've gone more in-depth on this concept in this post) was a lot more difficult to confront than I imagined.
Interestingly enough, I think Covid-19 ties into this experience. Going through the quarantine and coronavirus chaos has shown me how to be gentle with my goals and accepting of my progress. Dealing with coronavirus has been tough; heck it's been tough on everyone. Having my last semester of undergraduate school (effectively) cancelled, not getting to experience all my senior ceremonies and recognition that I had looked forward to for the past five years, potentially not being able to walk at commencement, and having to accept all those conditions without being able to do a single thing about them has been hard. Really hard. But it's also been teaching me how to find satisfaction in the victories I do have. Assuming nothing drastic happens, I will have an engineering degree in a month. (Wow, that's crazy to type out). I have accomplished a lot during undergrad. I've made a lot of great friends along the way. Especially in times of difficulty like the one we're going through, prioritizing self-acceptance and looking towards what we can do and have accomplished is so important.
I think, in a way, this (forced) lesson has bled into my view about writing. While I'm careful to avoid complacency or "acceptance" as a gateway to laziness, I do think I need to be better at seeing what I have accomplished. I've overcome fears I've had for years with this experience; in a few short months I've grown and learned more than I ever had in the past. That's pretty cool.
Surprisingly too, I've come to realize how developmental and therapeutic blog and reflection posts can be. While I've done both of those in the past for my honors experiences, I feel my past experiences have been technically oriented. This is the first time it's felt personal. Through writing these posts and thinking over what I've done, it's allowed me to process a lot about my learning and about myself. Taking the pressure off publishing these into a blog I'm trying to make "perfect" and instead taking this experience one step at a time has allowed me to take risks. It's allowed me to experiment. To quite possibly fail. And honestly, allowing myself that liberty for the first time in a long time (read: ever) has allowed me to grow more than ever. I feel excited by this experience. I feel empowered.
While I may not have as much to show for this experience as I hoped, I think this honors experience is the one that will have the longest impact on me. Even if it was the tiniest crack in the door, I'm learning how to open up and be vulnerable in my work. I'm learning how to accept my progress for what it is. I've developed lasting habits: I plan to continue to publish posts on here as a way to continue my growth and use my word count goal as a way to push my progress. And honestly, that is more than I imagined I could accomplish in this experience. So while I may not have had the successes I set out to achieve, I've found progress in other places. If the past few months have taught me, taught the world, anything, it's that we live in a world that loves to subvert expectations. While some of those subversions may not be enjoyable, I know that I'm satisfied with the ones I've found in myself. So here's to more pleasant surprises in the future- hopefully I'll be able to overturn a few more of my expectations in the time to come.