I’ve had a really hard time writing this last week. At least, anything that would be something good for this space. I did splice together a very bizarre introduction to my portfolio and gave it out to two of my three committee members. I felt it necessary to let them know that the end product will not be as direly cynical as what I gave them. They want me to connect the dots of this brief education; they want me to claim I have mastery in this area – but…I will not lie about that. That said, I will reflect. That is what I have done these last two years. From the guide on how to do our portfolios:
The portfolio is meant to demonstrate that you have strong writing skills and that you can use your studies–both theoretical and applied–in the writing and design of various documents. A portfolio also provides writing samples for use in applying for jobs or for Ph.D. programs.
I have a resume for that and just to think of going to school four more years brings out the heebie jeebies in me. So how am I supposed to do this?
Provide an introduction to yourself as a writer, the influences on the pieces you have chosen to present, and some indication of the theory and research that shapes your work.
This degree has been layers and layers of reflection. Pieced into various grad class assignments, I’ve done nothing but reflect. Theory always seem to fall by the wayside to questions about your interests and your future; there, I could provide nothing but conjecture. From my strange first draft introduction:
To say that you can separate pieces of your life – work from school, home life from work, school from home life – seems to be a mystery, and a lie, to me. There has been upheaval in my life that has created a difficult dichotomy in my mind. For the last two years, my father was dying of cancer. He had been struggling for nearly three years, but the two that I spent in grad school were his, and my family’s, most difficult. He lost his spark as I was trying to find mine. I waded through concepts in class, finding them on the surface interesting, but when you reflect on how that actually translates to something tangible in the real world – a world of death, inaction, political incompetence, and lack of motivation – I struggled to find ties.
I’m a little sick of reflecting, although it seems to be a threshold I’m able to tolerate very well in this space. In a class last semester a teacher would ask us to reflect on issues with, “What sort of spaces does this issue open for us?” This space, the blog, operates better as a place for reflection; even with masses that could be watching, thinking, and responding, they still aren’t critical to my processes themselves as I’m reflecting.
Thereby, it seems a little underhanded and disengeneous to claim a capstone project for your reflections of learning and then give stipulations for that reflection. I feel a bit bad for my advisers. Who would want to deal with my sort of dejected attitude about their degree. Naturally, they want us to take this portfolio out into the world, something to reflect not just ourselves, but the school, the department, and the teachers, all in a positive light. I may quite be able to do that, not for lack of them trying though. I will reflect though…and perhaps with that I will learn the most.
I’ll probably look back upon [the time] with a mixture of regret and relief. I have relief from that I did accomplish this next level in education, that I was able to mingle rhetorical abstract thought with the inherent babble in my own mind, and that I was able to finally take time to pursue what really are my interests. Regret will come later, when I realize that only doing the minimum only hurt myself. Every paper and project I walked away from was at [the very] best only a seventy percent effort; and yet, it was always awarded more. This is not what anyone should even remotely call achieving mastery.
There must be more than only seventy percent effort. I need to find it; I want to find it.