My birthday is in May, conveniently placed around final exams. Because of that, I don’t often get the chance to do many exciting things to celebrate – maybe catch a movie, grab a meal in the dining hall with some friends, but that’s about it. It’s not as bad as it sounds, actually. I enjoy those small moments and the little things that make birthdays special.
My 20th birthday was on a Saturday, and so I met some of my friends for lunch on campus. It was a beautiful day – the sun was out, the weather was warmer, everything I could’ve asked for. As we were leaving the dining hall to go back to our dorms, we went down a sidewalk that was lined with blossoming trees. One of my friends stopped and asked, “Maggie, can I take your picture in front of these?”
I take my photo once in a blue moon. I’m not really camera shy, I just prefer to be the one behind the lens rather than in front of it. But it was my birthday after all, and the trees really did look fantastic, so I walked over to them and smiled.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, but as I look back at this photo and the good memories it holds for me, I realized that if I took a photo like this five years earlier, I would’ve hated it.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I, like nearly every other teenage girl at some point in her life, felt insecure about my appearance. A lot of us go through that in our middle school and high school years, and despite the fact that I was cyberschooled, I didn’t get a pass.
I’m going to be blunt in this post. Please don’t take that as self-deprecation or looking for pity. I just find it easiest to write this if I’m being completely honest.
I enjoy an academic challenge. If I hate an assignment, it’s usually not because it’s too hard, but because it’s boring or feels meaningless.
The one type of assignment I just can’t bring myself to like, however, are group projects.
If you’ve never had to survive a group project, I envy you. The name is pretty self-explanatory: it’s an assignment that involves collaborating with other students in order to achieve a (usually shared) grade.
On paper, it’s a great idea. After all, knowing how to collaborate with others is a good skill to have – whether or not it’s as important as people say is something I still debate, but that’s besides the point. Knowing how to work with others and bring people with different skill sets together can allow for more productivity in a project. At least, that’s how it should be.
The problem that I’ve encountered is that in my experience, group projects have been more frustrating than educational. I always come away from a group assignment feeling like the final result would have been better if I had done it myself. Part of this is certainly a character flaw of mine, but I think it goes beyond that.
On the other hand, I’ve had many experiences with collaborative projects that have gone very well. I can think back to some group assignments in college that I enjoyed and learned from, as well as from activities outside of an academic setting, like video games and writing. Based on that, I don’t think the problem is so much with group assignments themselves – as I said, they do have their benefits – but rather with how they’re presented.
So, what makes a group project enjoyable and beneficial? (Or, if not enjoyable, at least not terribly frustrating.)
And we’re back! Thanks for sticking with me the last few weeks everyone – I promise this will be worth the wait!
In case you missed it, I spent the last three weeks on a “cross-cultural” trip with my school – basically, a three-week term in another country with the goal of providing a more hands-on learning experience. Our trip took us to Strasbourg, France, located in the eastern region of Alsace (practically sitting on the German border). Most of our trip was spent in Strasbourg and the surrounding area, with a final three days in Paris.
I was home visiting my family this past weekend for the Easter holiday. My school is gracious enough to give its students a few extra days off, so I got to have a long weekend back home.
I didn’t do much during that time. Well, if “doing things” means being productive. I worked on my Camp NaNoWriMo project, did some homework here and there, but I mostly did things that I enjoyed, like reading and gaming and spending time with my family.
It was a quiet, relaxing weekend. I didn’t pressure myself to do much.
Sometimes, it seems like a lot of people make a big deal about their “social media fast” or taking a “Sabbath” or what have you, and I, being cynical by nature, see those sorts of mentions as attention grabbing. But in hindsight, after a weekend where I didn’t do much and didn’t talk to many people, I gotta say that there’s some truth to it. Sometimes it’s nice to spend a morning just reading a book instead of texting people or scrolling through feeds.
It’s not something for everyone, but maybe it’s worth a try. Enjoy quiet moments and quiet days. You often don’t realize how much you need them until they’re passed.
How do you like to spend quiet moments? What do you do to rest your mind and body? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Every year, I think “I won’t do another bullet journaling post” and then I do anyway.
If you’re not familiar with the term, bullet journaling is a style of organization system that combines planners, to-do lists, and ideas in an often creative and artistic way. Everyone had different style of journaling – my own journal has gone through different iterations since I started doing it in 2016.
With the start of a new year, I bought a brand-new journal and started fresh. Now that I have a couple months under my belt, I thought it’d be nice to share what I’ve changed and how my journal has grown since last year.
(But hey, if you missed my 2017 and 2018 posts, be sure to read those first!)
(Although, is it really considered “breaking” them if you’re the one who created them in the first place?)
There’s this saying that I was taught when I was younger: “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.” I’m still not entirely sure what it means, but it’s usually stated before someone goes and does something potentially rule-breaking, as if saying it absolves them of their crimes.
We all have rules for ourselves, right? Even if they’re not written down anywhere, we all have certain rules we set for ourselves. For example:
“I can’t use [insert social media] until after I finish my work for the day.”
“Every time I get paid, I will save this much of it.”
“I will only buy gas from XYZ Gas Station.”
Most of the time, these rules can be good for keeping ourselves accountable, especially when there’s no one else around to do so. I limit the times I can use social media so that I don’t waste my morning away reading the same three tweets over and over. I save money from every paycheck so I don’t randomly wind up broke someday. Rules help me keep my life together.
I had different post planned for this week, and then my body decided we were due for another cold. I spent most of the weekend sleeping and chugging DayQuil, and I didn’t really feel up to writing what I’d originally intended.
But since International Women’s Day was this past Friday (March 8), I thought it would be nice to write a little thank you note of sorts:
It’s December, you’re in college, the last thing you want to think about is celebrating Christmas. There are exams to study for, papers to write, group projects to suffer through… who has time to think about the holidays?
Look, as much as I hate to say it, but the busy end-of-semester rush doesn’t delay the passing of time. Christmas will continue to get closer, and if you happen to have a late semester (like I did this year), it’ll be upon you almost as soon as you’re home for the holidays.
It’s hard to celebrate Christmas in college, but fortunately there are some ways you can still have holiday cheer while passing all of your exams.
Recently, I committed the English major’s unpardonable sin.
Plagiarism? No, worse than that – I admitted that I haven’t read the Harry Potter series.
You would think from the scandalized gasps that I’d just admitted to first-degree murder, but that was not the case. Nope, I just haven’t read one of the most beloved fantasy series of all time.
Now, granted, I did pick up the first few books in my late teens, but I never finished the series due to (buckle your seatbelts) a lack of interest. That has actually been my reason for avoiding them all along – my parents never told me I wasn’t allowed to read the books, which might have been a more acceptable excuse at my religious college. No, the reason I didn’t read Harry Potter was because I didn’t want to.
You might be wondering, why didn’t I want to? I’ve always loved reading, and I don’t have anything against fantasy novels. Why didn’t I devour the Harry Potter series like the rest of my peers?
The answer is right there: everyone else was doing it, and therefore, I didn’t want to.
Anyone who’s ever written anything has probably sat down in front of their computer or notebook, all set to write, when they suddenly realize there’s a big problem – they’ve got nothing. All the ideas decided to flee the country as soon as they saw that blank page.
The typical solution is to just start writing anyway, even if it’s slow and painful at first. Even if you have to force the words out of your brain and onto the page, before you know it, writer’s block is a thing of the past.
At least, that’s usually what happens. But when writer’s block comes back day after day and the thought of sitting down to create something makes you feel hollow instead of joyful, it might be time to consider a different approach.