May 29, 2013 4 Share

Standing Up in Class


Young man standing up in lecture hall.
iStockphoto

A few months ago, I wrote about my passion for learning new things. Whether for pleasure or practicality, I find that picking up new and useful information is one of my favorite things to do. I was looking forward to learning more about  the craft of writing from some elective college classes I registered for this spring and summer. However, the experience thus far has not been what I had anticipated. Of the four classes I had signed up for, only one remains. To say I am disappointed by how things have turned out so far would be a massive understatement, but I have chosen to turn this into a valuable learning experience as well.

I have only taken one class so far, and even then, I only attended for two weeks. It was a creative writing class in which I, along with the rest of the class, did a series of timed writing exercises to generate new ideas which we could later develop into fuller stories. We would then read what we had written out loud to see how everyone’s approach to the same exercise differed. I felt this was a perfectly fine set-up for the first week, and I would have been happy to continue on in this manner.

Unfortunately, this was not to be. I withdrew from the class after the second week due to a disagreement I had with the instructor concerning my writing style. I felt that she was subtly pressuring me to write in a certain way, one which I felt was not appropriate for me. I felt very uncomfortable to say the least, and I tried to defend my position as best I could. There was a point she made about my work that I did not agree with, and I explained why I had made certain decisions regarding my writing style. She was insistent, though, on having me follow the style she wanted, and I felt it would be a direct conflict with my personal ethics.

I spoke to my parents about what had happened, and they agreed that the instructor should not have been trying to make me adhere to a writing style which clashed with my beliefs. They also helped me to cope with the fact that I would not be attending the rest of either of the classes that this instructor would be leading. I had trouble with this at first because I do not like to leave anything unfinished, but I realize that I will sometimes have to walk away from some things because of my principles. Any disappointment I might feel during those moments will only be temporary because I can take solace in knowing that I stood up for myself and rejected what I believe are harmful and unwanted influences. It will always be better for me to stay true to who I am rather than to be someone I do not want to be.

This experience taught me that sometimes there will be things in my life which I might not agree with, and I do not have to put up with them. If I am able to, I can just say no and, hopefully, move on to something better.

The one class which I wanted to take for fun, one focusing on superheroes (just in time for the summer movie season) was cancelled due to low attendance. I am a bit disappointed that I will not be able to take it at this time, but if it is ever offered again, I would be glad to attend.   

I have one class remaining: a career strategies class. I still have hope that this class will go as planned. I think it could be very helpful to me at this point in my life. I have many projects in motion at this time, and I am excited about the possibilities that this class may offer me additional insight in moving forward with my career in multiple directions. Even though I am down to just one class now, I still plan on being very busy this summer with both my career and some fun activities. I am learning that this type of disappointment is only temporary. I also continue to learn more and more every day about life’s lessons, and I am taking this information to heart and putting it to good use in my life.    



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Anonymous

learning life's lessons early

Dear Ben, You have already learned lessons that took me many years to learn. Walking away from anything, including events, groups, people or jobs that were not good for me seemed like giving up; being a quitter...ie. failing. It took almost 50 years for me to realize that changing a decision is not something to be ashamed of. Changing your direction isn't a sign of weakness or cowardice. It is a sign of intelligence and courage. Good for you. Stay true to yourself, Ben. Just because a professor has a bigger degree than yours doesn't mean they know what's best for you.

Thanks

Thanks for your very nice words!  I am learning that if things are not working out or if I do not like a particular direction, I can walk in the other and change my situation for the better.  Today's setbacks could lead to tomorrow's successes.  My father said almost the same thing you expressed in your last sentence.  I am also learning that I, and no one else, am ultimately responsible for my own decisions, beliefs, and personal boundaries.  Thanks for reading my column!  I greatly appreciate the support.

Anonymous

Soooo proud of you Ben.

Soooo proud of you Ben. always follow that inner voice. it's usually God!

Thank You

Thank you for your kind words.  I try to follow my beliefs and to do what is right for me.  It's the best way I know how to go through life.  Thanks for reading my column!