Shana's Senior Project A study of "Self"

INTRO TO MY BLOG

⇧ Caps lock (I'm screaming). Can you tell I'm excited?!

EXCITEMENT!

Dear Reader,

It seems that you have stumbled upon my Senior Project site. Welcome. I hope you find your time here as intellectually inspiring as I intend to find mine. Please feel free to snoop around– read the posts, observe the images– and by all means, take your time. It’s a complex project (I myself will even admit to that!), so sit down, relax, and be prepared to be absorbed by your computer for the next few minutes.

Before you begin, though, let me just explain the premise of this project. I, a fledging nerd and aspiring Dickens enthusiast, decided, in a whim of indecision, that my Senior Project would not be one of simplicity. No, rather, it would be one of definitive yet intertwining parts. These parts are as follows:

1. An investigation into my own self through various visual arts means.

Disclaimer: I will not just be taking run-of-the-mill selfies... like this one.

2. A research project concerning how the self is depicted in art throughout history, with a specific focus on how the art came to represent not only a physical image of the subject, but also a greater interpretation of their personality, character, and sense of self.

3. A review of the literary depiction of self/identity through the reading and analysis of several Charles Dickens novels, as, “Charles Dickens excelled in character; in the creation of character of greater intensity than human beings,” to quote T.S. Eliot, from his essay on Wilkie Collins and Dickens.

"Hello, my name is Charles John Huffam Dickens, and Shana has a bit of an obsession with my drawn-out, complex, über eloquent sentences... did I mention I got paid by the word?"

The overarching theme, or Golden Thread, if you will (ehem, A Tale of Two Cities, anyone?), is the greater study of this idea of “self.” What is self? How have we– society– come to define self over the years? How do I personally define self? And, most importantly, through what artistic means has self been explored and how might we realize these methods and utilize them in the future explanation of this concept?

With this said, as I mentioned before, feel free to go snoop around.

Until next time,

Sincerely,

Shana

POST 1

*subtitle* A thought from some awkward time between May 7th and May 8th (story of my life...)

Good ridiculous-time-to-be-posting-a-SP*-update, everyone!

*Senior Project

As this Sunday, May the 7th comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect back upon my first week of Senior Projecting and think, “Wow…”

“I GOT NOTHING DONE!”

Yes, reader of this obscure-corner-of-the-internet post, I admit it– I have been possibly the most unproductive senior EVER! That’s not to say that I don’t have my stockpile of excuses/fluffed-up accomplishments piled up in the trenches of my mind so that I can defend myself when necessary, but between you, me, my computer screen, and the interwebs, I’ve really hit an all-time low. The list of my past week’s doings are as follows:

• Returned from sunny California (i.e. the Promised Land) on a red-eye flight (stupid decision… I can't sleep on planes)

California and FOUNTAIN HOPPING!!!

• Discovered the real meaning of the term “Jet Lag” (agh!)

• Memorized every crevice on the inside of my eyelids as part of an exploration into the sleeping patterns of an overworked teenager… otherwise known as sleeping a TON!

My cat is training me in his ways... I'm pretty sure he sleeps 25 hours a day (yes– he makes that extra hour)

• Went to the gym every day (against my burning desire to study the inside of my eyelids further...)

Posted on Schoology regarding the 2005 and 2007 Blue and White Day shirts… unsuccessfully, I might add

Post 2.0: You can hear the desperation in my voice...

• Met with my SP advisor (she’s the best!)

• Lived in Mrs. Walker and Dr. Manzulli’s office (as per usual... can they just adopt me as their school child, already?)

I adore them... and clearly I wear way too much Stanford gear (though, you must admit, the matching was cute). 😳

• Spent 7 hours locked in Mr. Mayer’s side room– blinds shut, no sunlight to be seen– taking four physics finals (R.I.P. my Friday)

Created this blog (!!!)... which is a big deal, since I am a total shlemiel with the internets

Nearly finished my first self-portrait (it’s an oil painting)

• Studied for AP Physics: C

I just want to make Mr. Mayer proud... he's too kind for me to willingly fail! *Yes– he is wearing my glasses... again– he's simply too cool.

Ordered a one-way mirror for one of my self-portraits (more on that in about a paragraph)

I have bolded the points that actually pertain to my project… you can now see my dilemma.

So Senioritis is real, and I am clearly ridden with it, but fear not! I have finally decided to get my ducks in a row (though I should be studying for my AP test, looming on the horizon, with T-minus 11 hours left), so here we go– my first real post.

My whole project is centered around this idea of “self”– how we define it, how others in the past have depicted it, and how modern day society applies it to, well, us. That being said, I don’t want to do this whole project on the positive depictions of self. That would be just down-right boring. No! Instead, I plan to explore all aspects of self, be that positive, negative, and anything in between. Think Courbet’s self-portrait (because we all know I can’t resist a good Romantic or Victorian artist or author) crossed with a Cindy Sherman photograph with a dash of Chuck Close and perhaps a hint of Indirect Self-Portraiture**, if you catch my drift…

**A self-portrait created without directly displaying the artist, often including a collection of objects that have special meaning to the indirect subject.

Courbet's Self-Portrait/me after an all-nighter and five cups of coffee

As some of you might know (I’m not sure who is reading this, so maybe you don't…), I recently did a photography piece about my negative “self,” or everything that is “wrong with me.” The full description is below, if you are interested, but, in summary, it was a photo collage containing images of the 12 things that I don’t necessarily appreciate in myself, be that my negativity, perfectionistic tendencies, or what have you… and let’s be truthful– who doesn’t dislike something about themselves? I’m not alone here, people– I’m just the girl who decided to put her so-called flaws on display for the public to see. But I digress.

What my ramble in the past paragraph was indirectly hinting at is my unwavering pursuit of the honest truth about myself– who I am, the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, with that in mind, and circling back to a point that I said I would get to in “about a paragraph” (I’M SUCH A LIAR!), we have arrived at the real root of this first post:

Procrastination

What? Would I really make the subject of my first ever post something so– oh, I don’t know– inauspicious?

Yes. I would.

I know a lot has been said about procrastination, and, for the most part, it’s all pretty much the same:

Don’t procrastinate. Try x, y, and z if you want to stop procrastinating. Five ways to train your brain to not procrastinate. Procrastination is bad. You must not do it. It will be the death of you.

The end.

What happens when you Google "Procrastination..." again with the negativity, my gosh!

Pretty drastic stuff, right?

However, I would like you to stop right now and consider something that you probably haven't ever thought about– is there any scenario in which it-which-shall-not-be-named (i.e. procrastination) is positive?

Bear with me as I insert a brief anecdotal interlude:

Back in the good old days of applying to college (so eight months ago… I’m so old [but not really]), I procrastinated writing my Stanford supplemental essays. I kept telling myself that, if I did my English homework or went to bed in that moment, I would eventually get around to writing the essays during the weekend or in the coming weeks, and, in the end, everything would get completed at one time or another. Good plan? Yeah, not so much. As fate would have it, Monday, October 11th rolled around and I was still sitting pretty, Stanford writing supplements yet to be written, visual arts supplements yet to be composed, Photoshop yet to be learned for said art supplements, and the application date a whopping 20 days away… which wouldn’t have been so bad. I mean, three weeks to write a ton of supplements is completely reasonable. Or it would have been had my application date not actually been the 15th of October (long story short, submitting arts supplements meant that I had to submit everything 15 days early… darn that fine print!).

So what did I do?

I panicked. I completely, 100% panicked. I cried, screamed, had a nervous breakdown, panicked some more, and nearly passed out. Did I mention I panicked?!

But then something wonderful happened…

I became productive!

I, in the midst of panicking, I managed to write a plethora of supplements, teach myself Photoshop, create both a photography and an architecture portfolio using my new technological skills, and submit a well-composed, typo-free application 31 hours before the deadline. How ‘bout them apples?

–Bill Patterson in Calvin and Hobbes (GENIUS!)

Now why is any of this good? How did procrastination benefit me in the slightest in this scenario because, frankly, it seems to have just caused me an awesome amount of unnecessary stress and anxiety?

Yes, I postponed my birthday for the sake of college.

Granted, procrastination did ruin my life for that span of 98 hours (yes– I did the math), but it did have some invaluable benefits, as well. These are as follows:

1) No second-guessing. I completely rewrote my Common Application essay 17 times before I came to the final draft, but with four days and a rapidly approaching deadline, there simply wasn’t enough time for me to second-guess my writing. I had to be willing to put pen to paper in a timely fashion and, more importantly, to stand by the first or the second draft of what I composed. I had to be comfortable with imperfection.

2) Success in school. It goes without saying that, by prioritizing your schoolwork over everything else (in this case, college apps), you are better preparing yourself to greatly succeed in your courses. Thus, while procrastinating on my supplement essays in order to prioritize my academic responsibilities, I was able to maintain the quality of learning and, as a result, the grades that I had come to expect from myself.

3) Grit. Yes, grit. While the ordeal was a burden to my every nerve, it gave me the opportunity to see what I was, for lack of a better phrase, truly made of. Those 98 hours gave me a confidence in my abilities as a student, writer, applicant, photographer, artist, and overall human being that I simply had not held prior. In truth, procrastination led me to understand who I am when I am functioning at my best, be that at my most stressed.

Corny, but true.
How to Grit 101: attempt the four steps detailed above; when all else fails, lay in a pile of flashcards and absorb the knowledge through diffusion.

That all said, where does this leave the concept of “self” that I described earlier? How does it all relate back to that?

Self is a complete comprehension of who you are– your personality, your beliefs, your habits and mannerisms, everything– and, in my opinion, procrastination is simply one of these self-subsets that many modern-day individuals struggle with.

We as a society have been trained to believe that procrastination is “bad”– that it can only lead to negative consequences– and thus, we fight against ourselves to expose a better self that we do not innately exhibit. But, I ask you: what would happen if we stopped fighting against ourselves?

I procrastinated writing this post, just as I have procrastinated my entire senior project thus far, yet I have come to believe that this procrastination was somewhat beneficial to my overall mental health... or, dare I even say, productive. In the span of this past week, I have been able to do things that have made me extremely happy. I relaxed for the first time in months. I went for a nice walk outside. I bought groceries. I taunted my cat with a laser pointer. I made gluten-free blueberry pancakes. Did I necessarily do everything that I “should” have done– no– but I believe that the time that I have taken to do the things that I wanted to do– not that I was supposed to do– will make me that much more productive in the future weeks.

And thus, I will conclude my marathon post with this– the idea of positive productive procrastination. Whether it be choosing to procrastinate on that math assignment by doing an English class free-write, reading your favorite book before delving into the one assigned for class, or taking time to go out for coffee instead of immediately powering through your to-do list, I believe in procrastination for the greater good.

I believe in the good of procrastination.

Until next time,

Shana, who is now going to bed (1:49am... still haven't studied for that AP. Oh well.)

DISCLAIMER: Not all procrastination is, in my opinion, good. Getting sucked into the vortex of YouTube or the rabbit hole of BuzzFeed isn’t exactly the best use of your time (unless, of course, it de-stresses you and makes you more productive when you do return to work… then it’s great). Procrastination must be productive in order for me to endorse it!

P.S. That whole one-way mirror thing that I mentioned earlier– it is for a self-portrait pertaining to procrastination that I will post at a later date.

Created By
Shana Levine
Appreciate

Credits:

Created with images by FootMassagez - "Book Pages in Slow Motion- Credit to https://costculator.com/"

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