Dear Antisocial Freshman

By: Shelby Mund

Hello all.

I’ve been brooding over this post for a few weeks now, and honestly, I’ve been drawing a huge blank in terms of interesting topics. I was convinced I would never think of something to share with you all.

And then I walked into Pillsbury Huff to fill in for Phil’s Wednesday night Writing Lab.

As I sat alone at a tall table by the window waiting for someone to approach me about their writing, I started to watch people. Some were complete strangers, some were people I’ve seen around campus a million times but for the life of me I couldn’t come up with their names. Some were joking around with friends. Couples walked up the driveway to North Hall hand in hand. Friends nudged each other, reveling in some inside joke from who knows when. Sights, sounds, memories… life.

And you know what? Even though I’ve gone to this school for two years, I can’t relate to a single one of them.

I guess it started when I moved into the dorms last year. From the first weekend, I became determined to spend as much time as I could locked up in my room, putting my full concentration into my studies. I was always grade conscientious in high school, and I guess I thought that if I put all of my effort into maintaining my GPA, I would preserve my connection to my past. I didn’t want to lose the last 18 years of my life – my friends, my hobbies, my beliefs. It took me a while to admit, but I came into college fully intending to make as few connections to this place as physically possible.

I lived for the weekend – the weekend meant going home. And even though all my friends were at college enjoying the experience like I should have been, I found myself using them as an excuse. I’d stay up until two and three in the morning prowling Facebook chat on the off chance that someone from home would get on, and then I’d go to my eight o’clock like a zombie, mindlessly taking notes and only absorbing half of the lecture.

I slept a lot.

Time passed by, and I found my life passing with it. People had long since stopped trying to get me to come out of my shell (I remember this one time when I was in a really good mood for some reason or another, so I sat in the lobby of the girls’ dorm and started a conversation with this really friendly girl I had seen singing in Chapel a few times… she looked so startled when I started talking to her that I literally couldn’t help but laugh out loud).
When I got back from Christmas break, I was determined to do better. And I did… some. But really, it wasn’t until I went home this summer and thought long and hard about life that I realized where I wanted mine to go.

So what? Why am I crying to you? Why does my less-than-satisfying first-year experience matter to anybody?

Because I’ve seen myself in a few of you.

I’ve watched you walk around campus with your heads down and your hands in your pockets. I’ve heard your soft-spoken voices in class. I’ve seen that defeated look in your eyes.

And I understand.

But let me give you just one piece of advice before you close your laptop and bury yourself under the covers of your twin-sized dorm room mattress.

Shutting everybody out will never, NEVER fix your problems. I promise you, making a few new memories will not mean erasing your old ones. And looking back on your college experience, wishing more than anything that you could just redo those first years and make them worth remembering – it’s not where you want to be. I would know.

Ernest Hemmingway once said, “In order to write about life first you must live it;” truly inspirational writing comes from truly exceptional experiences.

It’s like when you hear a song that just speaks to you – a song that makes you stop and think, oh my gosh, I totally know where that guy was coming from when he wrote that line. The best songs are the product of the strongest, rawest emotions.

Now don’t get me wrong. This is not by any means an inspirational blog meant to spur you to action, and it’s definitely not an advice column. Leave that to Dear Abby.

But please hear me out when I tell you that your time will be much better spent if you get out there and experience life. Meet new people. Put yourself in a slightly uncomfortable position. Embrace the awkward! Do whatever you have to do, but don’t regret letting these years pass by.

And hey, write about it. Because you never know who will be reading.

What Shall I Write about Today?

By: Abby Crain

I write for many reasons. I enjoy the flow of words off of my fingertips to form a sentence. I love dreaming up an idea for a crazy story and writing it down. Sometimes, when I get into English-nerd-mode, I like writing out an argument for a class that requires me to write an academic paper.

But, let’s be honest; sometimes, I hate it. I love creative writing, but sometimes I hate that I have to explain my thoughts on a topic that I would rather not discuss. I hate that there are so many guidelines on format that we have to have every paper look essentially the same. I hate having a deadline on my creativity because we all know that sometimes our creative thoughts are stifled and – for lack of a better word—our minds are constipated. I’m sure you’ve all experienced this heightened form of writer’s block at some point or another, and it’s a pretty awful place to be. Even sitting down to write this blog post was hard for me because for about ten minutes I had no idea what I wanted to talk about. It is usually hard to conjure a topic of the top off my head when I’m put on the spot.

And here is where I get to my point: writing. is. difficult. Despite many people’s assumption that English majors looove writing papers, the truth is that English majors sometimes hate writing an academic essay more than the average English-hating person does. It is not for the love of “writing a paper” that we write; it is simply for the love of writing, period. I am an English major because I need to learn the proper writing techniques to graduate and hopefully become a published author (a lofty idea, I know). I am not an English major for any enjoyment I get from placing a semicolon in the perfect place or from knowing the differences between “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” I am an English major despite knowing all of these rules and guidelines.

So, what is my point about the point? Yes, writing can be really hard, but when I can write just to write—no rules or deadlines—I gain the best feeling and it is so easy. More than just easy-peasy lemon-squeezie; it’s an entirely new level of easy that gives me the best feeling of freedom. Freedom to write about anything I am thinking, feeling, or wanting to do. I can even put my dreams on paper, and it is up to me whether or not I share them with anyone; but I have written them down and there is power in that. Just the act of writing something down makes it more real and attainable.

My challenge to the readers of this is to not let the rules, regulations, etc. get you down. You can turn even the worst prompt into a masterpiece if you believe that you can unleash your creative beast and turn your writing into a beautiful masterpiece, whether it is for an assignment or not. And besides, whether or not you have the list of grammatical dos and don’ts memorized doesn’t matter, you can write. Write whatever flows from your heart; the words are there for a reason and God could use them to impact someone’s life in ways that you may never know.

Learning in the Lab

By: Ryan Rerich

When students venture down to the writing lab, they have already taken the time to enter the Field Building, walk down the flight of stairs and come around the corner to look at a relatively small room that is filled with people. From the moment they see all of the tutoring, they may feel nervous. I remember my freshman year, when I was intimidated until I had my first sit down session with Elizabeth. It was amazing to see what simple brainstorming and thought collection with another individual does for the construction of your paper. This semester, which is the first semester I am tutoring students in the Writing Lab, has been interesting as well as challenging.

From working with English Grammar students, to working with graduate students, I feel that I have learned just as much as the person I am tutoring. Each and every day, I feel more comfortable with what I am doing, and how I am helping students understand and learn more about writing. Most students underestimate their abilities to be creative, and once started, they flow through their papers and are surprised with the end result.

It is a wonderful feeling to help a student achieve what they want to accomplish in their writings and surpass the goals that they have set. Each day is a learning curve, and as the student learns, I will also be acquiring knowledge that I will use for a lifetime.