A Reflection on my Growth

Photo Maggie McCain © (CC BY-SA 2.0)

English has always came pretty easy to me. I exceled at writing and being able to string words together to carve detailed stories. This was a huge advantage to me when it came to the English classes that I took throughout the years, but when I started AP English Lang/Comp it kind of threw me in a whirl. Although the class was difficult, the difficulties  of the class improved my writing a whole lot and it was very evident. The essays that I wrote in the class both highlighted my strength and weaknesses when it come to writing which allowed me to recognize what I needed to work on and the areas that I should emphasize. One of the many assignments that I believe really stood out to me was the Grapes of Wrath in-class essay. I remember throughout the process if writing it my hand was cramping, I was nervous as hell, and my mind was running a mile a minute. But the reason it was and assignment that stood out to me because it was something that really made me realize how much I had improved in my writing and analysis of text. When I first started the class I was hit with more rhetorical devices than I knew what to do with and I’ll admit being able to apply them to literature was a struggle for me. I didn’t understand how to connect the structure and usage of the words to the overarching meaning of the book. But with he guidance of my teacher and constant practice I was slowly, but surely improving. This assignment was a testament of my work towards understanding how to connect rhetorical devices with the text and it something that I am extremely proud of.

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Throughout this class, I have discovered that my strengths as a writer are in the details, ideas and structure of my writing. As I said earlier, being able to use words to describe the details and the happenings of a situation has always been one of my strongpoints. I feel that throughout this class, not only have I found new techniques to improve this skill but have also learned the importance of using detail in my work. I think that my favorite essay that I have written all year has been the narrative essay. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a love for storytelling so the narrative fell right into the category that I love so much. Because I enjoyed storytelling so much, this essay was something that I submerged myself in. Unlike many other essays that I have written, I actually really enjoyed this one and that was evident in the score that I got. But I can’t credit just myself to my good score, my table group was also a very bug help in suggesting changes to the essay and assisting me revise it to its best possible version. This was one thing that I especially loved about the class, it was collaborative. I enjoyed sitting in table groups and having people constantly being able to both critique my work as well as point out things that I have done well. It was a collaborative effort and I immensely enjoyed interacting with the people around me. Through those interactions, I was able to become friends and build connections to people I wouldn’t have been able to met if I had not been in the class.


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And this thought leads me to a question that I have been contemplating about throughout reading The Cather in the Rye:

Why are words effective in building connections with others? 

I believe words are just another way to build connections with others. It is through our words that we are able to meet and learn about the people around us and sometimes through just a simple greeting or conversation, those infant connections can build into something more. Earlier, I said that storytelling is something that I really love. This is because through those stories I can connect with people more quickly and on a deeper level that in other forms of communication. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden recites these short anecdotes to the people who are willing to listen. We as readers also read these anecdotes. Through these small stories about himself and his experiences, Holden is able to connect with the reader and the person he is telling his story too. I, as a reader, and able to connect to Holden through his experiences that he is reciting. It is through the stories about his shortcoming that I can connect to him through my own failures and the stories about his siblings that I am able to connect with him through my experiences with my sibling. I also think storytelling is such as prominent way to build these connections because every person has a story of their own to tell and by being able to share my own, I can convince people to share theirs as well. By sharing these stories, I can get an incite about what they value, their life and their personality. Through this I have met the most amazing people and made the best of friends and that is what I love about my AP English class. It offers me the ability to share my thoughts and use words both verbal and in writing to share my ideas with those around me and therefore make lasting connections.

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As junior year comes to an end, I sometimes think about the things that I could have done differently this year. One of the main things that always comes to mind is to be less afraid to raise my hand and add to the discussion during class. I always admired people who were able to contribute to class conversations because it was something I was always too afraid to do. This is mostly because I am sort of self-conscious and afraid that my answer would be wrong and people would judge me for it. I really wish I could have understood that the class was a safe place for discussion where nobody was judged and everybody welcome to their own thoughts, judgements, and interpretations. I wish I hadn’t let my fear take hold because the times I did raise my and to participate, I always felt extremely proud and confident in myself afterwards. But dwelling on these regrets will take me nowhere. From these regrets I need to be able to learn and improve later on rather that thinking about it and taking no action.

So overall, despite the nights I stressed about school so much that I wanted to cry, I deemed this year a success. I was able to meet so many amazing people and many opportunities opened up for me that I was able to take and pursue. I was able to find mentors and role models in my teachers as well as the people I surrounded myself with. And last of all thank you so so much Mr. Z, for always offering your guidance and encouraging me to express myself, share my ideas, and most importantly go out there and work hard for my goals. I’m so very grateful to have had you as my teacher and someone I have grown to look up to. You deserve the biggest high-four that a person can give. Thank you so much.

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