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self evaluation and reflection

abby rose's picture

Living With My Tongue Out

Last fall, Identity Matters cracked me open. I don’t know if I was ready, but it happened regardless. After being introduced to a world where the academic always touched the personal, I have slowly and steadily traveled that rickety, exciting bridge to new territories ever since. Through the support and encouragement offered by all of you in the Arts of Resistance, I have taught myself to move inside and outside of the classroom with my tongue out. Tongues are highly sensitive parts of our bodies - they can perceive so much and add dimension to our senses, they are hurt by the smallest of encounters. Yet, they are also resilient. 

My sensitivity has always been a part of myself that I’ve perceived as weak and useless. But learning how to use my perceptiveness and vulnerability in the blurry 360 world has amplified my learning experience and commitment to my academic work. It has not been without significant pain, but for me, it’s been wholeheartedly worth it. My exploration of vulnerability is so linked to the love work that I have mentioned in class. As I allow myself to be more vulnerable in my personal and academic lives (as well as the special place where these lives intertwine), I have discovered a profound love at my core that guides me towards my passions and motivates me in times of distress. I’ve been so fortunate that my peers and professors in this course cluster have created a space for me and for others to be that loving, sensitive self. 

Because of the vulnerability I’ve leaned into this semester, I’ve been able to take unexpected risks with my assignments and participation in the classroom. That I’m proud of the fruits of my efforts speaks to the meaningfulness of my risk-taking. The more I pushed myself in our classes, the more I came into my own voice within our community. However, after Anne mentioned that she wished I would come into my own voice in spaces outside of our 360, I realized that I still have so much more growth to do, so many more risks to take with being vulnerable. In our 360, there is a degree of comfort and safety fostered by our little community. I feel brave enough in our shared spaces live with my tongue out and to take the beautiful joy and deep-reaching pain that comes with that openness. Intent listening is a skill that I have been cultivating since last fall, and now I seek to craft my heart and mind into a voice that may resonate in spaces where security and support is not as evident as it is in our 360. 

Additionally, in our last meeting I expressed regret at not having delved more into the incredible font of texts that Jody, Anne, and Joel offered us during the semester. There were so many readings that I wished I would have read and been able to discuss with our group. When discussing this in our final meeting, Jody and Anne reminded me that when I closely read a text, it truly sticks to my core and I bring it to life with my treatment and constant re-evaluation of it. This piece of our conversation has prompted me to reconsider myself as a reader. Since coming to college, I have felt like my reading abilities have slowed down significantly. Again, I perceived this as a weakness in myself until our professors acknowledged my strengths in connecting to a text. If my reading is strongest when I closely read every three or four texts rather than skim every single text, then perhaps I should explore this part of my educational identity in semesters to come and not beat myself up about not keeping up with work in the traditional sense; but, I wonder if this skill would still be appreciated outside of our 360. 

I’ve been so grateful for what we’ve all shared this semester: our insides and outsides, our voices and silences, our stories and secrets. So much of my personal growth is reliant on the fact that I’ve been privileged enough to travel this road with each person in this cluster, and I will move forward with newfound strength that has been instilled in me by all of you. To quote Kieris and Riley’s final silence that touched me so deeply in that room that was much bigger than we knew, May you be happy. May you be well. May you be free from harm. May you find peace.