- Category: Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)
- Published: 29 April 2015
- Written by BRANDON JOHNSON | POLITICS EDITOR
Rather than wasting your time reading something that is so personal to me, let me use some of this space for some things I wish I knew when I was an 18. These are some tidbits of information I’ve picked up along my Monmouth journey. While I’m still “just a kid” by most accounts, these are some things that have had the biggest impact on who I am.
If you ask your doctor, physician, dentist or any other health professional, they can probably runoff a list of things that are bad for you. I, for one, have an insatiable sweet tooth, with a particular fondness for Snickers. But for all the harm the preservative packed goodies I munch on could do, it’s nothing compared to my greatest detriment: my comfort zone.
Everyone has a comfort zone. It may manifest itself in a variety of forms but it’s there. For some that means binge watching Netflix wrapped in the world’s softest blanket, while for others it might be dozing off in the back of the class. Regardless of shape or form, recognizing my comfort zone was among the best pieces of advice I received during my tenure at Monmouth.
The problem with comfort zones is that they are genuinely enjoyable to be in, well, at least at first glance. They are created by our retreat into routine. And that’s to be expected! As humans we are constantly bombarded with an immeasurable amount of information, so we cut corners where we can to save some effort.
Think about when you walk to class. There’s a good chance that you took the same path, probably coming up through the tunnel, veering slightly to the right and continuing up the main path past the student center. Or, maybe you threw your car into the commuter lot and cut through Pollak Theater to get to Howard.
One of the most important things being at Monmouth has taught me is to identify my comfort zones, in an attempt to beat them. As Dr. Patten reminded me countless times, “you’re not growing unless you’re uncomfortable.”
For me, escaping my comfort zone meant setting simple goals. “Ok, today, make sure you’re the first one to participate in class,” or, “Offer to volunteer for that event after work today,” I would say to myself, making a conscious effort to break the cycle I and so many others are prone to.
When you identify your comfort zone and make regular attempt to escape it, as silly as it sounds, discomfort becomes your new comfort zone. That is, you’ll get to a point where when you aren’t questioning or pushing yourself you’ll wonder, “Why aren’t I?” It’s sort of like weightlifting, without seeing some discomfort you’ll never see those sick gains, bro.
A big shout out to Professor Schmidt for this one. The college experience is nothing without a dreaded presentation. A few of us are naturally gifted at wooing our colleagues with our excellent showmanship and verbose vocabulary, but I’m certainly not one of them.
Before you get in front of your peers and get sucked into your powerpoint or note cards there is something every great presenter needs to realize: the audience doesn’t want you to fail. Sure, there’s a chance there will be that one sadistic kid who snickers at your every stutter and misstep. And that kid is a jerk.
But on the whole, every presenter needs to know that the audience wants you to succeed! Do you know how awkward it is to be in an audience for an uncomfortable presenter? More times than not, the audience is interested in what you have to say, so if the performer flubs, they are caught in this strange place where they can’t do anything until the speaker gets back on track. So, as long as you prepare as best you can, the audience should be the least of your worries.
“Well, that’s the way it is...”
I hate this phrase. It’s easily the worst combination of six words in the English dictionary. Being a political science major, it is common to hear this about politicians and their false promises to the masses. Is your school district terrible? “Well that’s the way it is.” Oh, your health care package doesn’t cover that? “Well that’s the way it is.”
Those six words can single handedly dismantle every piece of progression ever made. But here’s my advice for this one, take Dr. Greason’s HS 310. You’ll quickly realize through his teaching and encouragement that there is no reason you have to settle. There is so much in this world that needs positive change, and you can be the perfect catalyst.
What would a senior goodbye be without thanking those who matter most? At this juncture, as Professor Joyce would say, I want to address some of the people that made this journey at Monmouth an enlightening one.
The Political Science & Sociology Department – When I arrived at Monmouth I had no clue as to what I would do with a political science degree. Law School? Graduate School? Who knows?! But through the guidance of the great faculty in this department I have taken steps to realize my calling in life. I still have no clue what it is exactly, but that’s the best part! The writing and research skills this department has helped me craft are invaluable as I graduate. Thank you for the support and giving me a home during my time at Monmouth. (And if you have some extra credits make sure to take a course with these folks)!
Mary-Ann – Where would I be without some good morning conversation? Being the early bird that I am it pleased me to no end that you would stop by and check on me at The Outlook. Thank you for your support!
The Outlook – I lived with you guys on Mondays and Tuesdays! We started with a tiny group of editors in September, but grew to have a solid cast of contributors. A huge thank you to the wonderful politics writers. Whether you wrote two stories or ten, your insightful and journalistically sound articles were an editors dream. As I pass off my politics section to Brendan and Jasmine I wish you two and the rest of The Outlook all the best. I hope you can get us back up to two pages, the campus needs us! If you are interested in writing feel free to let them know, either by email or stop in to Plangere 260!!
GLATZ! – Thanks for entertaining my antics over the past year. It takes a special person to endure my incessant rambling about the nonsense between my ears!
Chris Orlando – Where else do I go for a riveting discussion about the misgivings of our politically elected? Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to edit for the paper. I wish you well as you finish out your tenure at Monmouth!
Java Jenn – I can’t begin to count how often I visited your shop! Lemon cake, coffee rolls, smoothies, or just some much needed conversation, thank you so much for helping to keep my spirits bright, day in and day out!
Professor Schmidt – Critical Discourse was quite the hurdle for a shy Brandon. But sitting through that class changed me for the better, and is something I am so thankful for, each and every day. I hope that the future Brandons of MU find themselves in your class, it was an invaluable experience. P.S., one of these days I’m going to give that stray cat the best home it could imagine!
Dr. Greason – Critical thinking is an underrated skill. While it’s great to have concrete skills like computer programming or coherent writing, being able to summarize what’s going on, analyze the problem and synthesize a new solution is the framework for innovation. Thank you for giving me and so many other students the tools to change the world.
Danielle Schipani – My Lead Statistician! From Los Angeles to the Jersey Shore, you have been an incredibly important part of the end of my MU career. It has been a real pleasure spending time with you, and I hope we have many more adventures together (we have a long to-do list)!
Rob Solorzano – Between a 12-hour time difference and mismatched schedules you’ve still been an incredibly important friend. From life on the Great Lawn to both of our graduations, thank you for always indulging in my rants, opinions and discussions. I hope to see you soon!
Kenny Lockett – What can I say? You’re my brother! 15 years later and we’ve made it through school. But this is where the real fun begins. Thank you for having my back through it all, and I can’t wait to see where we are in the near future.
Kellie - There is not much else someone could ask for in an older sister. If I were ever on a trivia gameshow, you would be the first, last, and only lifeline I’d need! When it came to middle and high school projects, you were the real MVP. Thank you so much for being so involved in my life. I know videotaping all of those AAU basketball games wasn’t the most fun, but thank you for your loving help and support.
Mom - Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thanks for not only being my mother, but a motherly figure to so many who needed it. I learned compassion, composure, and perseverance from you, and those are lessons I’ll never forget. Thank you for being the loudest cheerer in my section. There will always be some courtside seats reserved just for you.
I’m not the best at giving closing remarks but I’ll leave you with this. No matter what your calling is, you can find a way to achieve it through MU. Between the faculty, staff and peer resources at your fingertips, make sure to make the most of the time you spend here!