By Eleanore MG
As a freshman at a very STEM heavy college, I was required to take a freshman writing seminar in order to make sure that I would learn how to write in an academic fashion, something not taught in the science and math classes most students take. Personally, I gravitate towards said science and math classes, but am also extraordinarily stressed out by any sort of writing. As I registered for this class, I knew it would be very difficult for me.
There were two unique things about this writing seminar: one, it was all about the pursuit of happiness and two there were two papers due a week. The latter forced me to confront what stressed me out the most, writing. Indeed, by the second week, I felt so overwhelmed that I stuck my head in the sand and gave up trying to write these essays or even go to class. Ultimately, I realized that this was something I would need to overcome eventually, and now was the best time to push myself past my resistance and fear.
Pushed by impending deadlines, I finished everything I had neglected to do in two nights. It was not fun, but I’m glad I did it. It made the rest of the class seem easy in comparison and taught me how I can approach the writing process so that I can mentally process it without feeling overwhelmed.
This had two effects on my life outside of this class. One, I was much better prepared to deal with any and all assignments and studying for my other classes, even though writing was no part of them. By taking my newfound time management strategies and applying them to my homework and studying habits, I found it so much easier to do all of the work that I had on efficiently. This in turn left me much less stressed about pretty much everything.
The second effect on my life had more to do with the course content, happiness. Throughout it, we discussed happiness in relation to its definition, money, and suffering. Each viewpoint had a piece that resonated with me, and by analyzing them and making arguments about happiness, I was able to piece together how to pursue my happiness. One of the concepts we discussed was the idea of flow, an activity where you lose sense of time due to the joy it brings to do it. My current flow is pursuing my education, and I am now able to get much more joy out of it because I will be much less stressed by all parts of it.
There is another course as part of the writing sequence, and it has a very similar structure to the first. Now that I have figured myself out, it will be much easier for me than the first course was. I may not like it, but I do know how to make myself write. Additionally, the rest of my life will be easier and happier in general.