It’s Not Enjoyable. It’s Not Healthy. It’s Not Worth It.

Stress: a word that often appears at the top of a college student’s vocabulary list. We are exhausted, always, as stress and pressure to excel academically is ever-present in our lives. Whether it is brought on by parents, professors, or one’s own drive to succeed, stress holds an intense amount of power in the way that we interact with the world, and, more importantly, stress can definitely hinder our relationship with God.

Now, let’s be honest.

I’m the type of person who greets each new semester with a big smile and arms wide open. I get thoroughly excited about picking out new school supplies, and the smell of sharpened pencils brings me entirely too much joy. My obsession with new supplies and organization is so real, that the TV show,  “My Strange Addiction,” reached out to me in hopes of doing a segment on the girl who sniffs sharpened lead (JK, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this actually happened).

The moral of this story is that I love school, and, for the most part, I enjoy completing assignments that require creativity and prepare me for my future career as an educator. I have a passion for higher education, but sometimes that passion transforms into complete and utter drudgery.

Being that I literally will NOT submit anything less than my best for grading, an abundance of stress and exhaustion begins to reside in my being not too long after the start of a new semester. Like my second cousin at Christmas time, stress storms into my life, unwelcomed, and refuses to leave until I’ve fed it all of my time and energy. This relationship with stress is toxic. It affects not only me, but those who are gracious enough to want to spend time with the girl who lets an unnecessary emotion control her life.  It’s not enjoyable. It’s not healthy. It’s not worth it.

Why is it that I, like so many others in my generation, insist on allowing stress to consume me? After three years of struggling and fighting and persevering to succeed in a collegiate world dominated by stress and pressure, I think I finally found the answer:

Priorities.

For the past three years, my number one priority has been to perform in a way that would please my professors, make my family happy, and impress my peers; I wanted nothing but for others to find pleasure in and be impressed with my doings.

Were these bad desires? Not exactly. But, there were some drastic flaws in my intentions, which were, what I believe to be, the causes of my stress filled life.

Had performing in a way that pleased God been my number one priority, I would have been reminded that He longs for me to work wholeheartedly for Him and not for man (Colossians 3:23). I would have been humbled in the fact that He is the source of all of my creativity and talent (Ephesians 4:17). I would have found peace by reflecting on how He has an everlasting, passionate love and care for me that is not based on the quality of my work or the grades that I receive (Romans 8:38-39). I would have sought to please Him more and others less.

We, as sinners, spend too much time living and striving and breathing to find approval from the world that we often become blind of the approval that God has already given us. So, we work hard through the stress, and we get the good grade, and, though we win the approval that we desire at the time, we almost always end up just as empty as before because we sought acceptance from everyone but the One who actually matters. Whose opinion of us is never less than wonderful. Who sees our imperfects, yet loves us all the same. It really. isn’t. worth it.

Some anonymous smart person once said, “Be a prayer warrior, not a panicked worrier,” and that is exactly what I encourage you and me to do today.

prayer warrior

Whenever you’re feeling stressed or worried or that you must do everything on Earth and Mars perfectly in order to get someone to approve of you, stop. Take a second to pray and ask the Lord to help you find your worth in Him, and I can promise you that stress will be much more hesitant to come around.

Written by Haley

Photo credits: Featured Image, Prayer Warrior

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A Motivational Quest

I stand there frozen in fear. The stairs in front of me seem incredibly daunting and I wonder how I will ever overcome them. Once again I ask myself why on earth I would want to do this. To answer that question I mentally run through the process that got me here. It all started last night when I read an article about how great running up and down stairs is for bodies. I then decided that a stair workout sounded like a great idea and figured I would try it out the next day. That decision led me to where I am now: standing petrified in front of a horrific looking flight of stairs. Doing this workout seemed like a great idea beforehand, but for some reason I can’t seem to find the motivation I need to actually follow through with it now that I am here.

Perhaps you have experienced a situation similar to the one I just described. Or maybe you can’t relate to that at all. As it turns out, you could be the type of person who really doesn’t like to work out and you never really care to find the motivation to do painful physical activities. In that case, you might better relate to an academic struggle for motivation. If so, just think back to a time when one of your professors assigned a paper for your class. You procrastinated for a little while, but eventually came to a point where you knew you had to write that paper. You sat down in front of your computer and prepared to write, but as you stared at the blank computer screen you just couldn’t seem to find the motivation to begin writing. The entire writing process felt painful and foreboding; how could you ever build up the courage to take on such a task?

Finding motivation can be a very difficult endeavor. Even those people who are balls of energy that never appear to need any extra motivation sometimes hit a slump. There have certainly been times when Arnold Schwarzenegger struggled and didn’t want to go work out. At some point in his life, there was a period when Beethoven had trouble getting started with a symphony. Yes, I tell you even Hitler had days when he couldn’t seem to work up the motivation to attempt to take over the world. It happens to the best (and the worst) of us. But this is no reason to fear! On the contrary, together we can work to overcome those dreary days when your enthusiasm has hit rock bottom. Today, I am here to give you six tips to gather the motivation you need to begin even the most formidable mission.

  1. Make your task incredibly easy to begin.

When you are beginning to embark on a fearsome venture, start with something really easy. Do not tell yourself that you begin writing when you are finally typing words; tell yourself that you have already begun once you turn on the computer. Do not start a work out by lifting weights; instead, start it by tying your tennis shoes. Do not say that you start getting out of bed when you leave your bed, say that getting out of bed begins when you turn your alarm off. This mindset makes it much easier to get over the hump of beginning a task. Instead of having difficulty beginning, you will find that the difficult part is actually continuing. However, by then you will have already begun your mission, which will greatly enhance your motivation.

 

  1. Focus on your goal.

If you have a goal or a reason for doing something then it will be much easier to make yourself do it. For example, if a man is attempting to do a workout, he can focus on how he wants to better his health. Instead of thinking about how much running stairs hurts, he can tune his mind to emphasize the benefit of running those stairs. Doing this allows him to remember why he wants to work out and then use that knowledge to fuel himself.

 

  1. Stay positive

The more negative you are, the harder it will be to get motivated. If you keep telling yourself that you hate writing and that your paper will probably turn out badly and that having to write a paper is just ruining your life, then you will probably never find motivation to write that paper. That is exactly why you have to change your outlook from one full of negativity to one full of positivity. Remind yourself how well you can write (even if you don’t think you are a great writer). Remember that writing a paper will only take up a few hours of your life, which really isn’t that bad. Stay positive, and it will be much easier to find the elusive motivation that you seek.

 

  1. Reward yourself.

What better way is there to get yourself to do something than to place a reward at the end of the road? When you set aside time for a project, allocate a little time for something you enjoy as well. That way you can treat yourself to a reward after you finish. Then, when you are trying to motivate yourself you can remind yourself that there is something to look forward to after you are done with your difficult task.

 

  1. Use peer pressure to your advantage.

When you are preparing to tackle an unsettling enterprise, enlist the help of your friends. Tell them all about what you are going to do or even post about it on social media. Ask them to hold you accountable so that you do not veer from your course of action.

 

  1. Watch the Shia Labeouf Just Do It video.

Seriously, just watch it. You think this is a joke, and on one hand it is, but it actually leads to a very helpful tip: get motivated by watching or reading something that you find inspiring. Although it may not be the Shia Labeouf video, you should still attempt to find something that appeals to you personally. This will help to inspire you and raise your motivation levels dramatically.

(Watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXsQAXx_ao0)

 

There you have it: the six things that I have found to be the most helpful when I am trying to find motivation for a task. Doing these things can be extremely beneficial in your quest for motivation. Just remember, even though it may seem impossible, you can do it. Just like the Little Engine that Could thought that he could, I know that you can.

 

Written by Nathan

The Testing Dead

Did you know that DBU has its own version of the Walking Dead? This version comes about every so often whenever something negative happens, like Chick-Fil-A being closed, the internet being down, or finals week. While the two former problems are typically temporary and resolved after some patience, the latter is something that can bite us and infect our attitude. However, in order to be a real finals survival expert, you need to be prepared. Please allow me to be the Rick Grimes to your Carl Grimes.

First, you must know your enemy. The zombies that we fight come in the form of papers and Scantrons. There are different types, such as English, Math, or Psychology. Each one requires different types of preparation, but the method is the same. In order to fully know your enemies, you must study them. It is recommended to study a minimum of one hour for every class period. Keep in mind that studying is no substitute for being in class and getting experience. Both are equally important and one cannot be done without the other. Studying prepares you for facing the undead creatures that plague you during this week of supposed terror. It’s always good to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse before it happens, after all.

What are some methods for studying? I’m glad I asked! I bet you are too. You’re welcome. The classic method is reading and reviewing notes. Most assuredly, you have been taking notes in class, right? Right? Right. Along with rereading the chapters that the final will cover, reread your notes over those chapters. Make sure your notes contain things that the professor has mentioned are important. Things written on the board are typically important, so you should write them down, too. Another classic method is to use flash cards. (No, Mr. Zombie, flAsh cards. With an A.) Write some questions on one side and the answers on the other and quiz yourself. (This also applies to learning about zombies.)

Next, you must make sure your body is ready. During this apaperlypse (patent pending), you need to keep your body in good shape. The most important part of this is to make sure you get sleep. If you’re exhausted before you face the test, then you won’t be able to bring your a-game and then you get bitten by a zombie and then you start to turn and then someone has to shoot you and it gets messy. DBU doesn’t have a zombie disposal unit. Trust me, I’ve checked. Sleep allows your body to rest and recharge so you can take on the challenge of your final.

Now comes the most important thing that any good zombie killer/final taker must do. You must choose your weapons! Against the zombies, you can choose anything from guns to swords to crossbows. Guns alert zombies, though, so I’d recommend using them sparingly. Swords are nice because they do not need ammo and can typically be sharpened and used over and over again. Crossbows are also a good tool since they are long-range and can be reused so long as you retrieve the arrow. So, as a final taker, what weapon do you have? What is your trump card to vanquish your mighty foe?

pencil

The legendary No. 2 Pencil

Sorry, you’re kind of stuck on this one. Scantron Machines have this fascination with Number 2 Pencils. It’s like their favorite candy or something. You get one weapon and typically just one shot. Trust me, though, if you heed my simple advice, one shot is all you’ll need. Probably. Maybe get a good eraser, too.

Finals can be scary. They come across as undead creatures that were raised from the dead by some Necromancer masquerading as a professor. However, you shouldn’t fear these walking dead. When you shine the light on them by studying, they turn out to be pretty harmless. The important thing to remember is to keep a cool head. Fretting over finals will only put you in more danger of becoming like one of the undead. Remember my tips and you should be fine! Don’t remember them, and well… good luck out there.

cute zombie

Actual picture of a Psychology final

Written by Alfred

Friday Symposium

“Philosophy literally means the ‘love of wisdom,’” Professor Naugle’s voice carried over the microphone, “And wisdom has been aptly defined as ‘knowledge applied.’ Hence, philosophy may be more also defined as the love of applied knowledge” (8). At these words, Dallas Baptist University (DBU) faculty and students hummed in agreement. I scribbled my pen across Dr. Naugle’s essay, circling that statement.

The statement reminded me of Socrates’ hierarchy of reason, knowledge, belief, and opinion. A philosopher does not simply hold a vast amount of knowledge, as a mathematician understands 2+2=4, but he or she is also able to apply this knowledge. Thereby, the reason underlying the knowledge determines how a philosopher will use it.

“And the application of knowledge,” Dr. Naugle finished his point, “is exactly the goal of the philosophy program at [DBU]” (8). So, as a student at DBU, I am to both love knowledge and love applying that knowledge.

ben 2My experiences at DBU’s Friday Symposiums have aggrandized my intellectual ability and allowed me to encounter subjects I would not have otherwise. Once a DBU professor, who is also a singer-song writer, read to us her dissertation on Bob Dylan. Her argument was that Bob Dylan’s song lyrics marked the end of modernism. Throughout her talk, she played and sang some of Bob Dylan’s songs. This allowed the words and music to come alive and ring inside my head as the paper continued.

Another speaker who influenced me was the poet-laureate of Oklahoma. He attacked sentimentality in writing, expressing that, as poets, we must find the difference between “grandma’s praying hands,” and “my grandma’s praying hands.” The overall theme being that particularity brings universality. Particularities draw in a reader, giving him or her the opportunity to relate to the subject matter.

I could ramble on about other lectures I have had the pleasure of hearing, like the psychologist from New Orleans and the professor from Duke-Divinity school. Yet, my favorite part of the Symposiums is the question answer time.

“How does one retain a fixed theory while also remaining adaptable, as the liberal arts promote adaptability,” I asked Dr. Naugle after his presentation. He looked away for a moment, scowled in his typical fashion as he thought it through, and answered, “A college student is supposed to be open to changes to a specific theory… Some students are intransigent, which I would argue is not the correct attitude.”

ben 1

This answer has sent me into a whirlwind of pondering. Are there theories I uphold to that might need changing? Am I unwilling to consider other viewpoints or, at the least, understand them?

As aspiring philosophers, we should love knowledge and truth. We then must act or apply that knowledge and truth in our daily lives. The symposiums are great avenues to grow in spirit and truth, which matures one’s mind and implants a sense of justice that permeates all experiences of life.

This post was written by former Writing Center staff member Ben Jones.

Works Cited

Naugle, David. “Philosophy: A Christian Vision.” DBU Friday Symposium Sept 2015: 1-13. Print.

Frazzled but Saved by Grace

While sitting at my desk in the Writing Center this morning, I stared at my schedule in confusion. “I only work two hours today,” I said to my colleagues, “That can’t be right.” Since I made my work schedule for the fall semester several weeks ago, I could not remember my reasoning behind working so few hours on Tuesdays, so I pulled out my class schedule in a frenzy. Sure enough, my brain had completely blocked out two of my classes. “Man, the first weekstressed of the semester is full of surprises,” I exclaimed.

As a junior at DBU, this semester is surely not my first rodeo; however, I find myself feeling just as unprepared as I did when I was a freshman. I do not have all of my books. I have not met a single one of my professors.  And, believe it or not, I have yet to pay a dime of my first tuition installment.

Between work, class, campus life, and church, I feel as though I am completely in over my head at times. Unlike SpongeBob, I am not ready.

That being said, however, I know something that keeps me from drowning in all of this commotion:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (New International Version, Ps. 18:2).

No matter how crazy or difficult the beginning of the semester may feel, I know that my God is here to save me from the messiness. He hears my cries of concern and confusion and, in return, blankets a spirit of peace and tranquility over me just to get me through the day.

So, now, I ampraying writing this to encourage each and every one of you to realize the same. When the weight of the new semester begins to weigh down on you, have faith that the Lord will keep you from sinking. When your textbooks cost an arm and a leg more than what you have budgeted, lean on the Everlasting Rock for financial support. When the Wi-Fi is down and you cannot submit your homework, remember that the Lord’s plans for you are bigger than any one assignment. Embrace the sloppiness of crashing computers and missing student IDs and take on the surprises of the semester in full-force, trusting that God is with you every step of the way.

And from the University Writing Center, welcome back! We are so excited to see your bright, shiny, and somewhat frazzled faces this semester!

Written by Haley

Photo credit: uiowa.edu & youthalive.ag.org

Words: Not to be Used Lightly

words1

Fluff.

Every student has done it. Every student has written it. More often than not, college papers are stuffed to the brim with the unnecessary. Some people add extra ideas at the last minute to reach that five-page requirement. Others repeat the same idea over and over in different words so the conclusion takes up half a page. With deadlines approaching, we haphazardly stuff words onto the page, hoping the professor will think our ideas are semi-passable.
Writing is hard. We know. Even for famous authors, putting ideas down on paper is still a challenge. Ernest Hemingway said that “there is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” Even waking up for an 8am class is easier than writing. With this mindset, however, students often forget the purpose for writing. Words get crammed into paragraphs that students don’t really care about, and papers full of neglected words get turned it at the start of class. And this is a tragedy.
Words are not to be used lightly.
Writing is a transformation. Words, when strung together correctly, can alter the average, spur on the weary, and inspire the great. Words express the ideas within us, the ideas that should be shared. When we fluff our papers, not only are we misusing our education, we are also misusing the single most powerful tool given to humanity. Words have the power2013_speech_4_3-4_3_r541_c540 to tear down kingdoms, to unite divided peoples, and to birth whole countries. Even God Himself began the creation of the universe with four spoken words.
As students, we are trying to communicate our ideas. See writing as an opportunity to express yourself. Be bold. Take pride in your thinking. Share those thoughts for all to see. Refuse to settle. Don’t see a paper as another useless assignment, but see it as the need to build on what others have done before you. Contribute.
Make every word count.

“Wise men speak because they have something to day; fools because they have to say something.”
–Plato

Written by Jenna

“Man Speaking to Men:” The Writing Center as an Arm to the Liberal Arts.

personWilliam Wordsworth defines a poet as “a man speaking to men… a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him” (sic) (299). Every person, to Wordsworth, is a poet in his or her fashion; however, one becomes a better poet when he or she delves deeper in to the beauty of life. Thus, a poet takes a holistic mindset of life, praising both the mundane and glorious. This correlates to the ideal of a college which studies the liberal arts. As Arthur Holmes details, “the liberal arts are those which are appropriate to persons as persons, rather than to the specific function of a worker or a professional or even a scholar” (emphasis added) (27).

So, how does a Writing Center help establish people as people? How can it contribute to the development of the soul, and thereby become an arm to the liberal arts? I would like to make two quick points in accordance to these questions.

First, the liberal arts are the consummation of the individual and tradition. Conflicting with Wordsworth, T.S. Eliot postulates in “Tradition and the Individual Talent” that “no poet, no artist of any art, liberalarts_2865655-655x280has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the poets and artist” (2556). In the Writing Center, consultants guide students according to predating rules and distinctions made in the English language. However, a consultant fulfills this task while allowing the student to produce his or her original work. Thus, the individual exists, hence man to men, while within the realms of tradition.

Second, the liberal arts mature versatile persons. Indeed, the Writing Center, and education in general, can be seen as a mechanism to future success. Students often enter the Writing Center anticipating an assembly line service. They desire to hand in their essays and expect the employees of the Writing Center to correct sloppy grammar, refigure poor syntax, update formatting, and revamp un-academic diction. After this smoldering purification process, the students return and gleefully submit their essays to their respective professors.

Though this appears freeing, this mentality actually entraps and handicaps students. They become dependent on the Writing Center to craft an excellent paper. On the other hand, if consultants interact with students, then the consultant is able to explain why a certain linguistic rule exists and the logic behind Liberal-Arts-Educationit. The student then is able to utilize this knowledge in the future. Not only this, the Writing Center aids the student in thinking logically. Logical reasoning is beneficial towards all aspects of life, allowing the Writing Center’s influence to move past the walls of a room or building.

Let us then, as Writing Centers and employees of Writing Centers, learn how to be an arm of the liberal arts and promote a love in the liberal arts in all students we come in contact with.

Works Cited

Holmes, F. Arthur. The Idea of a Christian College. Revised ed. Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987. Print.

Eliot, T.S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” The Norton Anthology English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. F. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. 2554- 2559. Print.

Wordsworth, William. “Preface o Lyrical Ballads.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. D. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012. 292-304. Print.