Tag Archives: reflection

Reflection experience optimum in the summer

With June complete, I feel an inevitable wave of reflection. Fear not, though, I won’t launch into an extended, sugary monologue about how much I love “SUMMERRRRR <3” (to quote the title of a teenage Facebook album that, thankfully, has since entered the digital graveyard).

Rather, summer provides a time to reflect on what I’ve learned. Without the chaos of exams, essays, applications (and the incessant fear that another Drake squirrel will leap at me from his fortress inside a campus trashcan), reflection is more organic and less fragmented this time of year.

Between working in the communications department at the Science Center of Iowa and freelancing for The Des Moines Register, I’ve embraced versatility and variety this summer. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about journalism and perhaps more importantly, about myself. And since I’m not yet ready to break my streak of list-style op-eds, here are three things I’ve learned this summer.

Don’t limit yourself. While I admit I first thought of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream when I wrote that tagline, I’m talking about my journalistic focus. When I began my Drake University career, I had my mind and heart set solely on a bigwig career at a fancy, metropolitan daily newspaper.

I didn’t need to learn any of that digital business. I was already en route to a print-exclusive career defined by fame and fortune!

The Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication has pushed me outside the cozy, familiar realm of ink-stained palms and red pens, though, and I’ve realized the scope of the big, beautiful media world in which I thrive.

This summer, for instance, I’m producing and editing video, running a Pinterest account, writing and managing a website — all in the PR field. A world I never imagined I’d experience.

Don’t forget what motivated you at the beginning. And while I’ve enjoyed dabbling in a new field and delving into the digital world, I haven’t forgotten what drew me to journalism in the first place: sports writing for print.

In my work freelancing at The Des Moines Register, I get the chance to re-experience what I loved about playing prep sports in Iowa: the hometown pride and the state’s rich, highly competitive athletic culture. And I admit I’ll never tire of seeing my name in print.

Write every day. I heard it again and again growing up, but I only recently realized the merit of that advice. Whether I’m crafting a quirky caption for a pin or detailing another traumatizing squirrel incident, writing daily helps me process the minutiae of life and develop my voice.

Besides, I may never again have the opportunity to write about squirrels, ice cream and “minutiae” in a connected manner.

Milestone commemoration a source of unanswered questions

My collegiate plunge into life writing produced an unexpected but welcome habit: unremitting reflection. Add in a life-changing trip abroad and an academic year defined by change and fear, and well, I have a lot on which to reflect.

All that fodder for lingering led me to think about the modern commemoration of the life landmark — a peculiar moment defined at once by the individual and the culture.

With a quick click on Facebook, for example, one can take a brief tour through each important “life event,” decided by the profile owner. And that’s where I begin to feel particularly unmoored: the ownership of life events.

Though I immediately placed my January 2014 trip to Turkey in the “high impact” category in my life, I worry adding it to an arbitrary “timeline” could trivialize the power and tangibility of it. If I type it into an electronic timeline, it’s available for a few hundred “friends” to imagine, conceptualize and ultimately, define for me. But I’m probably overthinking it.

Additionally, I’m baffled by the ownership of memory in relation to the tangibility of it — the tickets, the souvenirs and the leftover Turkish lira in my back pocket. They traveled from one retailer to another, one gutter to another, one pocket to another, one continent to another and finally, wound up in an Arabic-decorated trinket box in America’s Heartland. Yet, do I really own those mementos?

I can’t help but wonder if a traveler before me experienced a more poignant moment with them. But in the box they’ll remain, harboring my memory — and undoubtedly, many more I’ll never know.

Finally, I worry about my ability and more broadly, my generation’s ability, to comprehend the gravity of life’s milestones and memories. With the ability available to “delete” a “life event,” with an album requiring a click rather than a week of paper-cutting (and a paper cut or two, given my lack of crafting grace), are we missing valuable opportunities to linger on life experiences? Have we made memory commemoration too easy, too quick and frankly, too public, for it to impact us in a lasting and meaningful way?

Well, I’m going to try to find out. I plan to create a tangible project from my Turkey experience (with the guidance of my creative younger sister, of course). And no, I don’t mean adding a bad clip-art flower or “xoxo” to a photo and placing it in a glittery photo frame.

Whatever the project, I hope I’ll find a new kind of reflective experience and maybe, an epiphany the Facebook “timeline” and “like” could never provide. And maybe, I’ll even avoid the dreaded crafting paper cut.