Failure is not an ending

This weeks reading concluded the book “The Ethics of Ambiguity” by Simone de Beauvoir. What really struck my interest this week was in the questions when Dr.Absher asked us to interpret a quote from Beauvoir. The quote was:

“Art and science do not establish themselves despite failure but through it; which does not prevent there being truths and errors, masterpieces and lemons, depending upon whther the discoever or the paining has or has not known how to win the adherence of human consciousnesses…” (Page 140).

The way that I interpreted this quote was that Beauvoir is saying that through studying or working with art and science, there will be times that you will fail within your work. These failures do not mean that your work is over, it can mean that you have gained more progress in coming to a conclusion in your work. Failures help you realize what does not work in a situation, and helps you come to a conclusion on what will be a more plausible solution.

When thinking about and interpreting this quote, I questioned if we could relate this quote and interpretation to our lives that we have lived and will continue to live day to day. In my personal opinion, I believe that we can relate this quote and interpretation to our own lives. Throughout our lives, we have had several failures and successes. It is almost like we learn our lessons through trial and error.

Throughout our lives, especially from childhood to adult years, we have to learn what the difference between right or wrong is. The only way to learn the difference is to complete the action and see what the consequence is. When you do something that is wrong, you take a lesson from the consequence and learn that you should not do that again. You can relate this to the failure in art and science because when you fail or “do something wrong” while studying or doing research, instead of taking it as a failure, you learn from mistakes, and apply that knowledge in either the same study with a different approach, or a different study. I can find myself relating this quote to school, and that it is something I feel that most college students can relate to. While in school, we have all been through a point where we have failed. Whether it was an experiment in the lab, a test, or just planning and time management, we have all had some form of failure. When we fail, we have a tendency to beat our selves up over it, and not be able to let the situation. What we need to realize is that failure does not symbolize the end of a road, or study, or class. Failure should drive us to work harder, and if one thing did not work then we need to go and find a new method. Failure should not be something that ruins someone, or means the end of a study or situation. Failure should lead us to new endings and help us learn and understand more.

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Living Life

The book “The Ethics of Ambiguity” by Simone de Beauvoir has provided us with multiple perspectives of thinking and for me, many questions. My attention was really grasped on a theme when we had to do the assignment questions 28. In the questions, Dr. Absher had us interpret a quote from Beauvoir. The quote was:

“Today must also exist before being confirmed in its existence: it exists only as an engagment and a commitment.” (Page 83).

Now, everyone who reads this quote can have a different way of interpreting it. For me, I interpreted it as you have to live today before it can be a part of your past. Before you live the day, the day is just there. It is almost like an acquaintance rather than a friend you have for life. When the day is over, it will stay with you for the rest of your life no matter how eventful or uneventful it may be.

When I was reading and thinking about this, I tried to put it into the perspective of my own life as best as I could. In a few weeks, I will be 21. That means I have had well over 7,000 days in my life and most of them I do not remember. Even though we live out all of these days we do not remember, the days where something eventful happened will remain in our memory for the rest of our lives. These memories can be good or bad, and we have all had our fair share of each. One day that I will never forget is the day that my niece, Sophia, was born. When my sister told us she was pregnant it was a surprise to everyone. I was excited, but I never thought in a million years that my niece would turn into my best friend. Before I knew it, nine months flew by and it would be any day that Sophia would be born. On July 8, 2013, at around 3:30am, my sister came up to my room to tell me that she was on her way to the hospital. Me being half asleep disregarded everything that she had to say. At around 8am, I decided to go up to the hospital. I waited, and waited, and waited for what felt like forever. Eighteen hours later, at 9:18 pm, Sophia was born. Twenty minutes after she made her arrival I was able to hold her. This is a moment that I will never forget. I looked down at her and my heart melted. From that moment on I knew I had a best friend for life. Over the five years, she has been in my life, we have grown closer and closer. We go shopping together, do homework together, and our favorite, watch Netflix together. She has basically become my little mini-me.

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Connecting my store back to the quote, every day that I have lived has been a part of my existence. It has been a part of my life. I have lived these days out, and most of them I do not even remember. They are a part of my past, but not a very memorable part. The days that I can remember vividly are the days that really helped shape me into who I truly am. The day my niece was born, the day I lost a loved one, my last day of high school, my first day of college, and all the days in between. These days have all been a part of my life, existence, and past.

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Growing Up.

This weeks reading had faced us with many difficult questions and themes. One that really stuck out to me was when Simone de Beauvoir talks about the transition to adulthood. It stuck out to me because it was a theme that everyone can relate to. Dr. Absher’s blog, which can be found¬†here,¬†is really helpful in interpreting what Beauvoir is saying throughout the reading. In the book, and in Dr.Absher’s blog, there is a quote that really sticks out, and helps understand how the transition into adulthood may be difficult. The quote is:

“The child’s situation is characterized by his finding himself cast into a universe which he has not helped to established…” – (Page 37).

This quote is saying that when we are children, we have to learn how to find ourselves in a world even though we did not find it or make what it is. When we are children, we have no idea what right or wrong is, or how to make our own decisions. Throughout our lifetime, we have to learn how to make our own decisions whatever they may be. These decisions will make us who we are. When we hit the adolescent stage of our lives, we are given more freedom in the decisions and responsibilities that we may have. Throughout the whole adolescent stage, we may be faced with decisions that we have never heard or thought of before. This can be because when we are in our childhood stage, we have an adult to make all of our decisions for us. As we grow up, we are forced to make our own decisions and therefore find out who we really are.

A major question in my mind is, do those people who are making your decisions for you as a child have a major impact on who you will become in your later years? Explaining this, we all go through our adolescent years and we all have to find out who we really are in a world that may still be new to us. The difference is that we all come from different situations and go through different experiences in our lives.

For me, my parents have been married for almost 26 years. Like every couple does, they have their fair share of fights, but I have had both of them around my whole life. Through my childhood, they were the people who made all of the decisions for me. Like most parents, they chose what school I went to, and they even tried to control what friends I had. If the saw a friend that was toxic, they would tell me I should not talk to them. Parents or guardians want the best for you so they will make all the decisions they can before you become old enough to make your own. When I hit my adolescent years when I was able to make my own decisions, I started to see who I was really becoming as a person. I was able to pick who I wanted to hang out with, what sports I wanted to play, what my hobbies would be, and eventually what college I would go to. My parents were both softball players, and it definitely had an impact on my life. I played softball from the time my hands were big enough to hold a ball, until my second year of college. My parents made the decision when I was a child that I should play, but eventually, it turned into my own decision on whether I wanted to continue or not. In 7th grade, I learned that I had an interest in lacrosse. I told my parents that I wanted to play and they were supportive as always. I learned what true friends are, what my interests were, and who I was becoming as a person.

My point with this story is that when I was a child, my parents would make my decisions for me, and some of those decisions I carried with me for life. When I hit my adolescent years I found out what more of my interests were and what I wanted to do or be in life. We are all raised by different people, under different circumstances. Does this have a major impact on who we become, or is it strictly our decisions as we grow up that make us who we are?

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Bad Faith

The topics and themes that were discussed in this weeks reading were challenging, and really made us think about how to interpret them. A major topic in this reading was Sartre’s concept of bad faith. When trying to understand bad faith, I found that reading Dr.Absher’s blog was very helpful. You can find his blog¬†here.¬†When doing the reading and questions, one quote really stood out to me and that was:

“The condition for the possibility for bad faith is that human reality, in its most immediate being, in the intra-structure of the pre-reflective cogito, must be what it is not and no be what it is.” (Page 238)

This quote was difficult to interpret, but if you think about it, it is saying that no decision that happened in the past or present defines who you are or who you will be as a person in the future. Everyone in this world has made bad decisions, some worse than others. Even though these individuals have made bad decisions, we should not base those on what their future self will become. The possibilities on who you will become are endless.

To relate this to my own personal life, I have made my fair share of decisions. Some were not the best, but they happened and I have learned from the decisions I had made. Back in the end of middle school/beginning of high school, I did not care about school work at all. I would pass all my classes, but I put in little to no effort and did try to my full potential. My sister was a straight A student and always made my parents proud with her grades. I passed my classes, but I was never as good as she would mainly because I never understood that we had two very different learning styles. My sister would not have to study and she would do amazing, where I need to study for days just to understand the material. ¬†When I was a sophomore in high school, I came to the realization that I needed to get my act together if I wanted to be accepted into college. By that time, I thought to myself that it may be too late, but I needed to give school my full effort until I graduate. After I graduated, like most people, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. For my first year of college, I decided to go to ECC. After a year, I decided I did not want to stay there anymore so I started applying to four year colleges. I ended ECC with a 4.0 GPA, but I was terrified that if colleges were looking at the grades I was getting in 9th grade that they would turn me down in a heartbeat. Looking back now, I see that I may have been over reacting. I applied to Daemen and D’Youville thinking that I would not be able to get into either. I get accepted into both schools, with two scholarships to D’Youville and one to Daemen.

Relating my story back to the quote, I felt as if my past decisions of school were going to hold me back from achieving my goals in the future. I thought that my past decisions of not trying to hard, or starting to try hard to late would make it impossible for me to become anything my parents would be proud of. The truth is that it is never too late to start trying. I realize now that my past decisions did not hold me back from getting into a four year college. If anything they taught me how to become a better student. I have learned from my past decisions and now I try my hardest in everything that I do.

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Paradoxical Intention

The whole book of “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl, gave us many themes to think of and reflect on with our own lives. In this weeks reading, the technique of paradoxical intention really stuck out at me. Frankl states that:

“Logotherapy bases its technique called ‘paradoxical intention’ on the twofold fact that fear brings about that which one is afraid of, and that hyper-intention makes impossible what one wishes”. (Page 124)

In the approach of paradoxical intention, the patient is forced to embrace or face whatever it is that they fear. In the reading, Frankl gives an example that really helps to understand the quote that was given. Frankl talks about a young physician who had a fear of perspiring. When the physician would feel an outbreak of perspiration, the rush of anxiety would make him break out into an excessive sweat. Frankl gave him the advice that whenever he should break out into this sweat make people aware of what was happening, and show people how much he could sweat. The result was that he was able to free himself of what he feared most in life. It may be a tad bit awkward to embrace an excessive amount of sweating, but the example really shows the method of paradoxical intention and that if we face our fears then it will help us get over them.

To relate this to myself, I have one fear that sticks with me from day to day and that is the fear of failing. It does not matter if it is failing a test or failing at life, I fear both. Some college students can relate to the fact that we can study for weeks on end, try our hardest, and not get the grade that we had hoped for. The fear of failing for me starts the night before I have an exam. I went to ECC for my first year of college, and then transferred to D’Youville ¬†for biology. My first year at D’Youville fear basically ran my whole life. Every single time I would walk into a class the day of an exam, I would start shaking and panic every time. My only thought would be that I was going to fail this exam. The fear gets so bad at times that every time I would have anxiety and freak out I would get very sharp chest pains. Now before we did this reading I really had no idea what paradoxical intention was. Unintentionally, I used the technique to get over my fear of failing. I learned how to calm myself down. To do this, I would walk into the room more confident. I would address the fact that I was nervous about the exam and that I would feel as if I would fail, but I would also tell myself that I am as prepared as I could be. I would tell myself that I have studied all that I could and that I will give the test and class all I have. I wished that I would have learned this sooner, but since I have learned how to overcome some of my fear I have done better in my classes. I have not come over my fear 100% but I have definitely learned how to cope with it.

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Do We Have A Meaning In Life?

Throughout the readings, I have found that the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” extremely eye opening. No one really knows what someone is going through or has gone through until the story is told. Frankl does an amazing job about portraying his story about the concentration camps, and even though we can not fully feel or relate to what these individuals had to endure, we did gain more of a sense and understanding about what happened inside these concentration camps.

One theme that really stuck out to me during the readings, was the theme of Logotherapy. Frankl talks about the difference between psychoanalysis and logotherapy. He states that:

“During psychoanalysis, the patient must lie down on a couch and tell you things which sometimes are very disagreeable to tell… now in logotherapy the patient may remain sitting erect but he must hear things which sometimes are very disagreeable to hear.” (Page 98)

Logotherapy focuses on the future, and the meaning of human existence. It focuses on a man’s search for meaning. Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivational force in an individual.

Very often, I find myself thinking about what my meaning or purpose in life is. I feel as this is relatable to many college students. We go into college and we have to pick a major, and we hope that it is what we will want to do for the rest of our lives. We are not sure of how the rest of our lives are going to go, so we have to work hard and figure out what that meaning or purpose may be. Were we put on this earth to cure cancer? Be a doctor? Be a psychologist? The truth is for most of our lives we will not know, and we will spend our time thinking about the answer to what our purpose is. Logotherapy is designed to help us find that meaning in life that we spend so much time searching for. I found this really great article, having Frankl included in it, on Logotherapy. If you are interested, you can find the article here.

If believing that we have a meaning or purpose in life is our primary motivational force, then what happens if we feel as if we have no meaning? Even though I find myself thinking about what my meaning in life is a lot, there is occasions on where I think i may not have a meaning in life. I am 20 years old, graduating in May with my BS, and I find myself thinking that I have accomplished nothing in my life and that maybe I have no real meaning. I think about this, and how there are people who are my age who have accomplished so much more than I have. Then I think to myself that if everyone on the earth had the same meaning and purpose in life, then we would all be the exact same person. To me, Logotherapy is a very interesting concept because it can help you realize that you do have meaning in your life, and it just may take some time to find it. You could be put on this to help people in need, make a family, or become a scientist. We may not be sure, but logotherapy can give us some insight to the future of our lives and help us find that meaning or purpose.

I find Logotherapy very interesting, and I would love to learn more about it. I hope that you enjoy my blog!

Determination and Freedom

As I was reading the first part in¬†Man’s Search For Meaning, it really opened my eyes about how people were feeling during such tough times. While reading, two themes really stuck out to me and those were determination and freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl tells his story about what he had to endure when he was in Auschwitz concentration camp. Reading his story gave me goosebumps. The whole time I was reading the story, I kept thinking about how much determination Frankl has. No matter what he had to do, he did it and did not give up. He talks about how the first few days that he was there, he contemplated committing suicide. He even talked about how the thought of a gas chamber did not scare him anymore. He stated that:

“Even the gas chamber lost their horrors for him after the first few days- after all, they spared him the act of committing suicide.” (Page 18)

After this statement, I thought to myself what made him keep going? Why didn’t he give up? Maybe it is because he had the determination and will power to go see his family again, and get out of the concentration camp. Suicide is a major social issue today. Suicide can be the cause of severe depression, or trying to battle the inner demons and just become too strong. Just over a year ago, one of my sisters best friends committed suicide because he could not face the amount of depression that he was battling. The thing with depression and suicide, is that you never know when someone is depressed. The inner demons that they face becomes too much for them to handle. Going back to the story, it really shows a lot of determination on how badly he wanted to be free again when he was able to overcome the thoughts of suicide. He thought of how he wanted to see his family, and live a normal life again.

When I talk about the theme of freedom involved in this reading, I am thinking about the fact of maybe we take the freedom that we have for granted. We read about how when these individuals arrived at the concentration camp, they were stripped of all of their personal belongings. They were given an outfit to wear, and if their shoes were too nice, they were given shoes that were too small for them. A number was tattooed on the arms of the prisoners, and all the hair on their bodies was shaved off. These individuals were really stripped of everything that they had a connection to. Anything that reminded them of the life they had outside of the concentration camp. Besides being stripped of everything that they owned, they were also given the smallest ration of food you could think of. They were very malnourished. The individuals in the concentration camp would starve, lose a bunch of weight, and lose what muscle they had. They lost their strength, and will to do just about anything.

Reading this really opened my eyes and had me thing of everything that I had to be thankful for. I may not have the nicest house or wear the nicest clothes, but I have a roof over my head and clothes to keep me warm. I have food every single day, and a mom who cooks dinner every night. I have shoes on my feet, and I have the freedom to do what I want. These individuals were told what to do and when to do it. They had no freedom in the camp, and if they refused to do something they would be beaten or killed. It truly is a sad story, and I am beyond thankful for the freedom that I have today.