Christmas. Cookies. Christmas cookies. Food that requires a steak knife. Reading for fun and not for readings. A real shower. These are the things on my mind as my 1A term comes to an end. Not that it wasn’t a semester full of new and exciting experiences, but it will be great to go home and enjoy the commodities of being the ‘daughter who lives away from home’. I’m ready for a break.
There were a lot of surprises this term, and lots of firsts. Before coming to Waterloo, I had never lived away from home, or been as independent as I am now. There was so much more freedom. The sudden realization that I now had the autonomy to skip class, eat goldfish for breakfast, and go to bed at 5 was something that hadn’t really dawned on me until the first week. This was almost as earth shattering as the week two realization that classes were going to be a lot more difficult than in high school.
English 109 presented some new challenges, and brought back some old ones from the easier, meme-less days of high school. Whether it was in big areas like citation, or in smaller affairs such as my atrocious abuse of the comma, my writing weaknesses became rather apparent. What surprised me most was how incompetent I am at casual writing. Having an assignment where I was encouraged to use a laid back tone and first person voice threw me off. It’s not as if I don’t have a lot to say, and I definitely had ideas for my blog posts…I just didn’t understand how to get my ideas across without using big words and pointless tangents. When I wrote and submitted my first post, I felt as if I had spent hours trying to write something that sounded like it had been whipped up in minutes. I realized that what made the post so challenging was that I was trying to write my words in the same way that I would speak them, which didn’t translate as seamlessly as I’d hoped. But luckily after a few tweaks, and learning how to apply the magic of the “shitty first draft”, I produced a post that sounded a lot less random than my usual word vomit stream of consciousness. While casual writing was unchartered territory, and I had no clue what I was writing, it got better with time. The main thing was just to stick with it, even if what I wrote sounded like absolute shit.
And, that right there is the advice I’d give to any other first year student. Write, and write and write, regardless of if what you’re initially spitting out is the highest form of trash. It’s about letting the ideas get out onto the paper and then sorting through that daunting mess for the good stuff. Regardless of how many terrible cringe-worthy sentences you conjure, there’s bound to be some quality writing trapped in there. My biggest roadblock at the start of the year was my refusal to write anything that sounded unintelligent. I couldn’t bring myself to just write shitty content, and that stubbornness made my drafts take hours longer than they should have been. So, you just have to write your unorganized, ridiculous thoughts -dignity and good-writing be damned. Whether or not you have a rocky start is meaningless, you just have to make the final product worthwhile. Much like my first term here at university, the process of writing may be tedious and intimidating at times, but with a little extra effort, determination, and some baked goods along the way, you can make a killer final submission.