How are you today? How’s everything been going?
I’ve been okay, not super good. Yesterday was fine since I finished my senior seminar. I think today, it hit me a little, that oh lord, I have a final on Tuesday, and stuff like that. I don’t want to freak out about it, but that’s me, I get anxiety. So before this I was working on a take-home essay, which is inconsequential to what I’m going to be doing later.
Is that something you’re doing over the summer?
I don’t know what I’m going to be doing after graduation, it’s probably going to be searching for a job and talking to people.
Ah okay, do you think there’s a reason why these give you anxiety?
I think that’s just the way I am, I stress out about things because I want to do my best. Even though my best may not be A level material, I still stress out because that’s how I get stuff done. If I don’t stress out about things, I’ll just be really lazy about it. Sometimes the work that needs to be done, doesn’t get done. I’ve never turned something in late, but at the same time I’ve procrastinated and had to be like “Okay, I really need to focus.”
Is this something that you’ve been grappling with? Or something you want to change?
No, this is not something that comes in between me and my life. Sure sometimes I stress out about stuff and I might need someone to talk me down off the ledge, but it’s not something that defines me. I guess that kind of answers your question. It doesn’t prevent me from doing anything. I just walk around with a lot of things on my mind. That’s what I like to do – I think a lot.
What has been something you’ve thought about recently?
When I say I like to think, I just randomly notice things. It is random details where it’s something about the bricks. Right now my mind is focused on the bricks on the Daily Grind where it’s smoke charred or things like walking to class or handing in a paper. I randomly think about facts in my head, not like inquisitive thoughts or deep philosophical things.
Has that affected your experiences on campus or the way you approach your work?
I guess in class it has definitely helped make me ask questions when I don’t understand something. I sometimes have Professors who don’t like the way I ask questions that maybe are inconsequential. But it’s a way for me to get a better understanding about something. It’s not a way that I manage my stress, but I kind of just go with whatever I’m thinking and stuff like that. And I definitely think it bleeds into how I write. Sometimes I write without a certain clear train of thought. I put down a ton of words that sound okay in my head. Then I go back and edit it down. It’s weird being a senior and I’ve never looked back at my freshman writing. If I went back, I would not know what I was thinking back then. Versus now, I can see that I have a writing style. Not that many people here, at least, know how to write well. I mean, it’s tough. Compared to being a business major or someone in the sciences, you pretty much have a job right after college. For English writers, you hate what you’re doing but you also like it. It’s a balance between hating writing papers and learning.
Yeah! Every time I see you, you’re always working on a paper in the Daily Grind. Can you walk me through how you approach writing a paper or a big assignment?
I have no idea how to answer that question! I haven’t even thought about that!
Or even, if you’re there most of the time trying to write, how does being in the same environment affect the way you think or come up with new ideas?
I guess with how I start to write, I either have a prompt or I have an idea of a prompt, or I use some Sparknotes.
That was my high school life!
Sparknotes or blogs on poetry or other works is so helpful, especially when you have to come up with your own argument. It’s so helpful to look at what some people have to say about the book and you’re able to compare it to whatever your thought process is. I go for that a bit and then create a thesis statement. And then I edit that thesis statement and start writing. From that thesis statement I should already know what to write. In terms of the Daily Grind, it doesn’t help me write, it’s just where I study in the mornings. It’s just what I do. I could never go to Swem in the morning.
Have you ever experienced just terrible writer’s block?
For a bit. It’s not like super terrible but I’ve had it a number of times. But normally, what I think about writer’s block is that if you have writer’s block, you just don’t know the subject well enough. You just don’t know what you’re talking about. Because if you know what you want or going to say, or even how to say it, you can just write it. I can only write 4 or 5 pages a day or something like that, but I haven’t struggled to come up with a thought. So it’s not necessarily that I have writer’s block, sometimes my mind just shuts down for a bit or I take a break by getting some water. I’m always thinking about whatever paper I am writing about.
Is there any advice you would give other people who may come across a “writer’s block?”
I think it’s mainly having a really concise thesis statement, like X relates to Y or this relationship means this, or something like that. I think it was wrong for me to say that one just doesn’t know the information well enough, it’s also a matter of how do I articulate my argument. And when you have an argument in mind and you want to just follow it, it’s fairly easy to talk about it if you’re also really passionate about it. Sure I’ve struggled to write papers, but I’ve never struggled to write. It’s weird talking to a non-English major because it’s just a skill that you have to do. If you don’t give yourself the space to write, then you would struggle.
What is a topic that you could write on and on about?
Humans rights law and international law. I mean I can write about both subjects, but international law pertaining to human rights is a really broad field and I really like it. I can look at state constitutions and also what the world is doing. And I am able to incorporate my passions. Another topic I can write on and on about is education. That was my senior seminar where I wrote about busing and education and I can probably write more about it in regards to Henrico County in Richmond and Virginia. If I am very passionate about an idea, I can have a lot to say about it.
When did you realize they were topics you were passionate about?
The first long paper I wrote was about, I think, the European Union and I also wrote a really long paper about international law and rights. I think those two papers showed me what it meant to write really long papers and to just go on about a topic. You have to put in a lot of time and effort and if you put in that much time, then you’re going to be very dedicated to the craft and what you’re going to write. If you’ve been following a topic for a very long time then you’re going to be invested with whatever you are doing.
How do you hope to continue this passion after college?
I’m probably not going to. I want to read more after college, that’s kind of something I really want to do more after college. I do want to go to law school. I’ll probably have the opportunity to do super long papers at law school. As the same time, if I don’t want to go to law school, then I’ll be okay. If it fancies me, I might write a research paper, I might not. It just depends on where my interests lie and what my time is like.
Do you still see writing the same way after this?
I don’t think I could work as a super creative writer or a news writer. It’s just not for me.
So what do you hope to do?
I want to be a lawyer. I want to help people. My dream job, I’ve been telling this a lot, I want to work at the U.N. I think it’s a dream of mine and something I really want to do.
Why is that your dream job?
I just want to help people. I think that’s where my talents lie.
How have your experiences at William & Mary then shaped your aspirations?
I’ve known a lot people and I’ve realized that people here are really weird in their own way. Everyone has so many distinct personalities. I’ve learned how to just, deal with people and I think that’s kind of central to what I’ve learned here. Over the last two months, I met so many new people, but I don’t know if I have the time to grow those friendships and just it’s kind of something I’ve learned. To make friends quickly. But I’ve also learned which are the long-lasting relationships versus the people you’ll see on campus only. It’s something I’ve learned that rather than struggling to make friends, I know the people that I will keep in touch with much later down the road. There were some people from out-of-state were they were the only ones that came from their high school. They didn’t know anyone, so they had to make their own way. It’s different for me where I had two really close friends from high school in my freshman dorm. It was awesome. But it also meant that I hung out with them a lot. It’s something like that where I don’t have a lot of close friends. Sure, there are people that I enjoy talking with and hanging out with, but at the same time I don’t know if I’ll still be able to later on. It’s a good thing I know who my close group of people are, I know I want to still be friends with them five years down the road, and I know they still want to be friends five years down the road, too. Junior year was pretty easy because I knew who I wanted to hang out with.
For the friendships that you may not have seen to last long, did you ever have any regrets?
I had some freshman year. Though we might not have meant to be friends, I beat myself up a lot since I felt excluded from things. I was caught up in a friend group that I felt excluded from and wasn’t invited to things. I was in a friend group, or I thought I was in a friend group, but it didn’t work out. I’ll still say hi to my freshman hallmates, but we are not really close. I think that’s a good question to think about. My freshman hall was a bad group of people, not bad as in personality or character, but bad as in we did not see each other eye to eye. And I kind of thought we were going to do pretty well, but I straight up have no idea where people are. Where they are working after graduation and whatnot.
How were you able to come to terms with that? Was there something or someone that helped?
Colin, my roommate. I met him my second semester freshman year. Also joining Humans of William & Mary where I really bonded. I think I joined Humans because I wanted to friends. I applied on a whim, and I did not care whether or not I got in. I got an email back saying I got in and I was like, oh, something is actually happening! It was, yeah, kind of the moment that I realized I was actually part of something. Coming into sophomore year was a good time. I kind of knew everything. I thought I was able to know who I was at William & Mary. Joining InterVarsity as well, I had a good group of people to be around as opposed to freshman year when I was always with my freshman hall. It played into who I hung around. It was an environment that was not, habitual, I guess? LIke I appreciate what we did, I’m happy that I got to hang out to them. Out of respect, we’d say hi to each other. And but I’m not going to go out of my way to do so.
Yeah, I totally feel you on that. I had a similar freshman year experience.
Yeah, but I’ve still hung out and talked to some really cool people.
Well, I guess last question. Now that you are leaving, is there something you wish to see happen on campus? Or maybe something for the future incoming classes?
I haven’t thought of this… I think for me, there are a lot of things I wanted to do. I just didn’t do them because I didn’t know how to balance my time. I wanted to explore more than what I have done. But I am not going to say about the whole college, because if you know what you want to do, then do it. And if something comes along, take the opportunity to do it. If you want to do it, then do it. I’m also not telling you to do everything. If I explored every opportunity, then I would not have had the time to study. You come to college to become a better student and person. These opportunities are not there to stress you out. They are meant to be outlets, outlets to enjoy being around people. You’re meant to really learn and think and grow. That’s kind of what I’m going to say. Just to learn, think, and grow.
That was a great answer!
I mean I tried. [laughs]