three little words (2017)

Taking an idea from Heather VanMouwerik at GradHacker (who, in turn, took the idea from Chris Brogan), I’m replacing a New Year’s Resolutions with three little words for 2017. As Brogan describes:

Pick any three words that will guide in the choices you intend to make for [2017]. They should be words that let you challenge yourself as to motives and decisions. They should be words that help you guide your actions.

In the past, my resolutions tend to come out as words anyway – it’s easier to think and connect.

FOCUS: I see focus functioning on two levels. For one, I need to think more seriously about getting through professional papers and workloads. I’ve been able to implement discipline into other aspects of my life, and now I need to bring it to my professional realm. Motivation is fickle, discipline is unyielding.

On another note: Like any interdisciplinary maven, I feel as though I’m torn between so many different ideas and concepts. And while I love that I can reach into multiple directions, Ia also don’t want to spread myself thin. Borrowing from Brian Croxall’s “Learning to Say No,” I want to spend 2017 continuing to develop a clear vision of what one wants to acheive and how.

UNPACK: Again, two levels. As a commuter student, my life is always in motion – from home to car to school to library to car to family to work to…and so on. To that end, I never really spend time to unpack the contents of my life at the end of day. Instead, I have at least three bags on my doorstep, a really messy car, a desk covered in ephemera, and a bedroom stuffed with Christmas supplies. So I really need to clean and unpack these physical spaces to get a sense

I’m also taking this as a way to unpack here – as in, Providence. Two years doesn’t seem long enough for me to settle down, explore, integrate into a community. Regardless, I think 2017 for me is about learning to unpack – to create entanglements in spaces and with people even when my time is short.

Metaphorically, I see unpacking tied to that last idea of focus. I’ve graduated from UMass and finished my first semester of grad school. Analyzing my life, my experiences, and myself, I’d like spend some of 2017 in introspective. I’m know to ruminate – I want to unpack the rumination cycle.

SPEAK: In general, I’m a quiet person. It’s not that I’m shy (though I certainly can be) –  I just don’t vocalize most of my responses. And I know it’s hindering me, my progress, and the people around me. In order to support & embrace the people/places/values for which I stand, I need to relearn how to speak for myself and for others.

And mostly, I see that starting again with my blog.

Unofficially going on hiatus was never a conscious decision of mine. If you took a look at my planner, you’ll still see “Blog Post” written on the Sunday of every week – sometimes with suggestions for a topic, most times just the generic reminder to think of one. But I see my not-blogging as the result of a few changes in my life as an undergrad.

First off, I stopped blogging due to time. I used to blog weekly, sitting down at my computer on Sunday afternoons to dust off a piece about daily experiences or some event that I had been to that past week. I used to livetweet lectures and workshops (something I still like to do, but I’m careful to respect the speaker’s work/privacy.) But now I feel like I spend all of my time reading. I spend literally hours on Twitter (probably not the best use of my time), spend most of my afternoons keeping up with class readings, and now devote Sunday afternons to clearing out my reading list. But that’s not a fair assessment, nor is it really a satisfying “thing” to blame my silence on. After all, I blogged for Commonwealth Honors College – but that didn’t take the place of what I was writing here.

I think I stopped writing in a public sphere because I felt myself unable to converse with academia, or with publics, or with anyone. I felt increasingly self-conscious of my blog posts as I went through undergrad. I mean, I watch great bloggers like Nick SaccoAnn M. LittleAndrew Pegoda and Kevin Gannon talk quite freely about their lives and their work. And maybe it’s just impostor syndrome kicking in, but I think I transitioned into a passive user of the Internet. In trying to curate my identitiy in a digital public, I started to take myself out those spaces. I didn’t feel qualified or empowered to speak on behalf of the field, or even myself. I found myself making expectations for my work that either became “too personal” or “too professional,” and so I settled on not writing anything at all.

I cringe looking back at some of those earlier posts – not because they were bad, necessarily, but because I know it could be so much better if I wrote it now. They read like time capsules – moments of me being really excited about college and history and research! It was never really about the scholarship, but about my day-to-day activities – navigating school, navigating networking, navigating assignments, what have you. And it’s these glimpses into youthful joy and naivety that remind me to be excited about learning. They remind me that exploration and experimentation and thinking out loud is encouraged, and okay.

I’m working on getting back into the groove of things. There are five unfinished blog posts on my desktop right now, on various subjects and for various places on the Internet. I’m devoting the time to finishing them. And I hope to continue documenting my experiences in this way – to not let writing be a chore, but to let it transition into something for me, first and foremost, rather than some grand internet public.

So, in short: back to regular posting! Back to exploring my place in the world! Back to sharing joy and excitement and frustration in fabulous field of public humanities. And back to finding myself in a digital public, whatever confusion that may bring.

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