Friday, May 29, 2015

My Sporadic Seminar Attendance in University

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While digging through some boxes this morning, I came across a cache of papers from my university daze. Among the items was this slip of paper, which is probably from my last year or two of school. This suspicion is based on the comment about my attendance at whatever seminar sessions this was related to: by year four, I was more likely found puttering at the campus newspaper or radio station, which was far more enjoyable (and better for my long-term career prospects) than listening to my peers expound on their favourite literary theories in a seminar.

Confession: I wasn't an engaged university student. It's one reason I never pictured myself going back, unless it was a subject I was passionate about. Maybe it was my major: while there were exceptions, I often felt out of place within my English classes, a throwback to the past. My love of placing works in their context didn't always go down well, even if my marks were fine (a lot of low As/high Bs).

This accounts for the lack of participation commented on in this note: I either felt like I was going against the flow of the rest of the seminar group, or I felt like a dum-dum for not being able to spit out post-colonial/post-modernist/French intellectual theory off the top of my head. Maybe I was a small town yokel after all. When I don't feel intellectually comfortable, I shut down. Contemplating flipping my English major and history minor occurred often, but a nagging fear of reducing my chances for post-grad employment scuttled that move.

Subconsciously, it may have been around this time I realized that I'd be a storyteller, not the great academic everyone quotes. And that this was OK. Everyone has their own talents. I admire those who are comfortable with theory and shape their interpretations into great work. My talent was diving into things instead of thinking about them, which was why I increasingly played hooky in order to crank out stories for the Ontarion or prepare my next CFRU show.

Though living in Arts House loosened many inhibitions, allowing me to explore and experiment with new possibilities, I still wasn't confident enough in class or working on campus to let those inhibitions reassert themselves when faced with holier-than-thou types. Recurring dreams involves reliving certain classes and contexts, but armed with knowledge and crap-cutting attitudes which developed after university. But one shouldn't fixate on the past in such ways - it's better to take the lessons learned from that time, realize personal weaknesses, note the positive accomplishments, and carry on.

Just don't ask me to explain structuralist linguistics.

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