Day 10: Podcasts #GIG2017

Today I don’t have just some gratitude to share, but some content, too! How exciting is that?

Obviously by the title you can probably tell that each contribution still centers on a theme, and that is podcasts. Besides reading lately, I have gotten increasingly enthralled with this emerging medium. In my spare moments, especially right in the morning and before going to bed, I’m pulling out my podcast app and browsing for the latest episode of my favorites or trying to Google search for my next favorite.

I didn’t essentially see the fad this was and sure didn’t appreciate it. I remember finding the first episode of Serial and not even being able to finish it. I’m much more of a visual person, so anything that requires me to listen and keep tabs of an idea without a chance to pause and reflect is difficult for me.

I still can’t get into strictly conversational podcasts, and more informative ones need to be about an interesting topic I can follow along several episodes to keep me hooked. I’m especially fond of the audio dramas, an expanded version of an audio book or a TV show without the screen to stare at. I love feeling involved in a plotline with characters and emotions and the whole shebang.

Hence why I have my own contribution to make to the growing podcast-sphere. As part of an assignment for my Digital Media class, we all had to make a podcast with plenty of freedom to let us go wild. So the bare minimum was just five minutes with at least two voices heard and some-sort of theme.

And in my essence, I decided to take the hardest way possible to approach the assignment. Knowing my love for audio dramas, recently binging Darkest Night as inspiration, and began brainstorming on my own story to tell. With the help of my brother, we wrote a script, recorded our voices, and produced a podcast of our own.

The Witching Hour is envisioned as an hour-long program that takes some inspiration from horror and thriller genres, including Black Mirror. It uncovers the darkness in all of us and is intended to throw in some twists and turns in there, leaving listeners at the edge of their seats or just thinking far after the audio stops playing.

You don’t necessarily assume you’ll feel emotions when just listening to something. That you’ll be laughing out loud, or your jaw will drop by a completely shocking statement. But hearing a human voice is surprisingly intimate and has great potential. I want to tell some stories that I myself would want to hear, that I would be telling everyone and their mother the next day because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

If you’re into podcasts or not, I’d suggest you give it a try, plus this is my website and I have the right to some shameless self-promotion. Many people still don’t exactly know what these new shows entail, but I see podcasts continuing to buzz from here. It’s a new means of self-expression, to allow creativity and ideas to flow, even learn something new and shocking.

But in comes the time for gratitude because wow, you don’t actually realize the extent of work that goes into a few minutes of audio. All of the considerations to make, the time commitment involved to make sure you publish the best product possible. Sure, the actual equipment involved to start a podcast are minor compared to other media, but there’s still an immense amount of strategy and patience required to make the idea in your head translate as you imagine it to.

I’m grateful for the hard-working people behind one of my favorite pastimes. I’m grateful for a new way to tell stories, learn and grow. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to try it out, and simply put, I’d love to keep making more. The idea of reaching more people in a new way is so exciting.

What am I listening to right now, you might ask? Well, I listened to two seasons’ worth of Alice Isn’t Dead in less than a week. Homecoming came out with a second season without me realizing it, so that was a fantastic few days of quality content. I’m also looking forward to new episodes of Heaven’s Gate and Cults each week because the weird, dark subjects are admittedly my favorites.

Do you have any recommendations for me? New shows, or even your thoughts on my own podcast? Pray tell. I’d love to make more content for you all and just see where it takes me.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Turn Stress into Less

College stress can definitely feel like you’re drowning under piling assignments.

It’s coming up close to midterms at my university. On top of that, I also have several projects looming in the distance all due at the end of the semester, and I have a senior thesis project to have about completed by next spring. So yeah, I’m stressed.

With the many assignments and responsibilities to think about, seemingly all at once, it can feel hard to actually pinpoint what to do, what to focus on, and how to get everything done. If  you have any smidgen of type-A personality in your psyche, then you can relate to that gut need to make sure everything you do is your best effort, all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Which, when you plate is overflowing, can amount to plenty of extra pressure on yourself.

Before stepping into anything, realize that you are just one person, a human who isn’t made to do everything perfectly, immediately, all at once. You cannot set unrealistic expectations for yourself and collapse in disappointment knowing you cannot meet those goals. In fact, it just adds to extra work and stress. Yeah, life would probably be a whole lot easier if we were robots, or just had robot assistants, who flawlessly do everything in a short time frame. But I guess I wouldn’t have much to talk about then.

If you don’t have some form of a planner, whether that’s a physical agenda or online calendar, get one so it’s handy. I personally need to write things down with good ol’ pen and paper to have tasks click in my head, but I know plenty of others who live by the beeping notifications from Google to stay together. You do you. The main point is to lay out your day or week and see where your time is spent. With classes, work, and other activities blocking off your days, you at least have a visual for when would be best to sneak in homework or projects.

But again, we’re not robots. Health and wellness in all areas come first. You still need time for current assignments, for spending time with loved ones, for resting and self-care. Trust me, when the school year is in full swing, that’s when I can crash. Hard. A mind thinking a million miles a minute tends to overlook those basic necessities of health until we hit a brick wall head-on. Then you’re definitely not getting anything done, at least not done well.

If your current schedule is evoking some of these emotions and experiences, maybe reevaluate your priorities. Are certain activities causing you to spread yourself too thin to take care of your health and education? Chances are, people are going to understand if you need to step back on a few activities, a few meetings or events, to put yourself back together. We’re all students and humans. We’ve all been there. Saying “No” is okay.

Okay, so those bigger projects outside of the day-to-day obligations. How do you find the motivation to try tackling something that isn’t due for months but is important enough that it’s looming in the distance and stressing you out? Especially if you have multiple projects to think about at once. I know I have at least eight right now. Probably more. Yeah, I don’t know how I’m still standing either.

When in doubt, baby steps. Take each individual project and write down little checkpoints or milestones that would mark your progress and help toward the end-goal. Reasonable goals are ones that you could probably complete in a week or so. Rather than looking at this huge menace impossible to even begin, take chunks off that you can consistently and easily work on in a down moment, of course paying attention to any required deadlines.

Nobody would ask you to just jump to the top of a mountain in one foul swoop, but they probably aren’t obvious in expecting a gradual climb to the peak. That’s where our own self-discipline and motivation come in. Procrastinating everything to the last minute will certainly not help motivate you. Personally, thinking of the relief I’ll feel if I get started on projects and early and have them done before their final deadlines can often be enough to get the ball rolling, but sometimes I still need an extra push. A flash of inspiration, often from other people, can be necessary.

Especially if any of the projects are group projects. Every sigh with frustration here about group projects. I’m usually the one who is reminding others to keep trudging forward, to keep the project in the forefront so they don’t forget to do their individual tasks. It can be scary to feel like you’re taking a leader role or potentially being that annoying person bugging the others to get work done, but let’s face it: If others aren’t motivated and your own performance depends on them, someone has to speak up. You’ll be glad you did.

So, quick summary: Take care of your health before everything, prioritize what is required over the extra time-crunchers, and take small, regular steps that are manageable and eventually amount to something great. Not an easy process to learn, and I’m here learning it too, even as a college senior, but trust me, we’ll make it.

Do you have any tips for managing multiple assignments and projects at once that I overlooked? Help us all out and let us know down below.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

College Venting

No, not the ventilation system. I can see how my titles can be quite vague.

I know I have already talked about my troubles with test anxiety. That is very mental and even though it sounds like I’m just complaining on both of them, I swear I’m not. The previous post was bringing to light the constant juggling involved with managing mental health and education. This post, on the other hand, I can wholeheartedly say is complaining.

Let me set the scene: for one of my required Honors courses, a major aspect of the class is writing a “mini-thesis.” That is, a fifteen-page research paper about a random topic. So technically not short enough to keep it straightforward and to the point, and not long enough to go in depth on the subject matter. It’s a very awkward spot to be in.

But I’ve written research before. I actually did quite well on a research paper in high school about children’s educational television. Admittedly it’s been awhile. I picked a topic I am interested in–how veganism affects mental health–and got crackin’. If you’ve read my blog more than today, you would know that the matter is complicated enough to write about consistently every week, so having to make a cohesive paper in 15 pages and still get my point across isn’t exactly easy.

Another challenge is the fact that neither topic has much research to go from. Both are surrounded by plenty of stigma. So a lot of my paper is having to draw my own conclusions and make these connections with any information I can find. It’s not like I have a multitude of astounding statistics to share. I love writing, but that kind of writing isn’t my cup of tea. Hello, I’m here rambling on about my own opinions and perspectives. Having to incorporate research in isn’t second nature.

With any assignment, and especially essay, I cannot tell you how much time I’ve spent on this. I would guess at least 24 hours expanding and writing and researching. That’s a low guess, too. I just know it was long enough for me to be sick of the whole thing and never wanting to look at that paper again. If only.

I received feedback last week for my latest draft. Side note, this “final” draft had approval from several very intelligent people, reassuring me that my argument makes sense and flows well. I knew coming into class that we would be receiving a mock grade and rubric for our essays, but I was certainly not expecting what I did.

If I had turned in my paper when I wanted to, I would have HOPEFULLY gotten a C. Translation: my professor was less than reasonable and I was about to have a mental breakdown. She told me my claims aren’t supported enough, that things don’t make sense, that I have to reorganize everything, that my writing has “significant flaws.” Even just thinking of it again, I want to curl up in a ball and just be done with everything.

Not to say I haven’t had some difficult professors. Going through school and striving for the best marks possible, you learn very quickly to pay attention to the teacher’s wishes and work accordingly. I had one of those last year. I went into his office every single week to have him look over my work and give me feedback. At least then I could figure out his style and by the end of the semester, I was his go-to student. Some people would probably say I’m a teacher’s pet. I would just say I know the value of building a relationship with the right people.

So even though my past professor’s wishes weren’t in my liking, I wrote to them anyways. And this is a very similar situation. Besides the fact that I have a week to turn everything around to respond to critiques that make very little sense. The assignment doesn’t lend itself to being easy as is, and my topic is one with very little research behind it. But I’ve never been one to shy away from an academic challenge.

In situations like these, I am disappointed in the education system. If you can get someone who loves learning and growing in the classroom setting to want to completely give up and lose all passion behind their work, I feel like that’s slightly counter-productive. Of course we always encounter those challenges in everyday life, when we work so hard on something just to receive a punch in the gut. And sometimes the response and solution to that just doesn’t make sense. They don’t have to make sense. That’s life. But in those cases, you don’t have to directly face the challenge. In similar cases, if I have to communicate with someone up front in a negative situation and I respect this person’s authority, admittedly, my first instinct is to cry. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know. In this instance, however, I was just bitter and frustrated, and I certainly didn’t hide it.

Today I just needed to rant. It’s been a long week, as every week feels. But I know others can relate to feeling so confident about a project or assignment or really anything, just to have someone else completely tear it down. It’s not fun. It’s very stressful. In the past, this could have easily driven me into skipping a few meals to rewrite the whole thing. That isn’t happening this time. With a solid foundation and resiliency, I know I can handle this. I wasn’t expected it in the slightest, but if I know I deserve an A, you bet your bottom dollar I will get that A. I work way too hard not to.

If you learn anything today, it’s that you are capable of proving others wrong. If you think you deserve something, work for it. Will there be plenty of obstacles in the way? Of course. But the end result will be worth it, whether you’re in school or not. Sometimes the things we’re good at and assume will be easy throw curve balls at us. When we take care of ourselves first and know our worth, we can take them in stride. That doesn’t mean I can’t still complain about them.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie