The Grand Finale to My Journey — Or is it?

Eight weeks later and here I am…

It has been a crazy first half of a semester for me; not only in Wicked Problems for Industrial Practice, but in all my courses, my personal life, and my work life. I still have the rest of the semester to go, but my time in DHM 1101 has come to a bittersweet end. Both bitter and sweet because it has been one of the few courses to really impact me and my lifestyle, and I do not really want it to end.

In the beginning I knew nothing of wicked problems, and I had considered myself a fairly sustainably-conscious person as well. I recycle as much as I can; I thrift most of my clothes; I donate whatever is sitting idle in my closet, and I shop at ALDI so I can always use my tons of reusable bags. However, as I was learning more and more through each class and assignment, it really got me thinking—

Am I a sustainable person? Are these issues even solvable? What is the point of all of this?

I was starting to feel the weight of all the problems of the world lying on my shoulders, and it was up to me to become some kind of upstanding, uber-sustainable citizen. I was starting to be overly-critical of my day-to-day habits and just overall had a looming judgmental presence over myself. I was even beginning to dislike going to my job because I felt like I was supporting a company that did not care for sustainable practices. I would throw away what felt like the 100th wasted plastic cup of the day and feel a wave of disappointment go through my body. At my worst points, I would not even want to come to class even though it was the one class that was genuinely helping me.

The biggest savior in all of my dreary days was getting to do my mindfulness practices. I would look forward to the one time in my day that my mind was not constantly racing between all of my internal and external struggles. I am going to be totally transparent too – I never even felt like I was “good” (whatever that even means) at the practices. I also was not able to keep a consistent schedule for myself either. I generally did my practices laying down in bed before I went to sleep or at some random part of the day where I was free. In a weird way, I do not think any other way would have worked out better for me. The way I practiced mindfulness felt organic and truly like me, and I think that deepened my connection to it as well. I think once I stopped trying to fight my personal mindfulness lifestyle, even if it was not what I saw everyone else doing, I finally began to feel more confident in what I was doing. I know at the beginning of this journey I was extremely hesitant, resistant, and struggled a lot with even feeling somewhat comfortable. However, once that connection was established I believe my understanding of wicked problems also benefitted.

My confidence with developing humble and compassionate responses has been fairly high since the beginning of the semester, but I definitely felt myself faltering a bit recently. It may have been a false confidence because I was more familiar with the wicked problems we were discussing. Once the familiarity was gone, I was left to fend for myself to find and understand solutions to these issues from a compassionate point of view.

That turned out to be pretty hard!

As the topics got more complex and more nuanced I was starting to feel like I was in over my head from when I initially boasted my skills in the mid-term blog post. In fact, I might even go as far as to say I was experiencing minor imposter syndrome. I was doubting my capabilities, my morals, and just myself overall when it came to these intricate wicked problems. I can recall the assignment exploring the question, “Is poverty responsible for global environmental degradation?”, and thinking to myself—

Wow! There are people in the world like this author (John Ambler) who have devoted so much time and energy to looking into these issues… how can I live up to something so well-articulated, so put-together?

But the great fact is—I don’t have to! It took me a long time to figure that out, and frankly I still am struggling to break away from that mindset as well. It is okay for me not to be the next biggest innovator in the field of interior design; all that I need to do simply put forth 100% of who I am, what I can do, and what I believe in into all that I do. That, of course, applies to my academic and future professional career but also my personal life as well.

Wicked Problems of Industrial Practice has given me a lot of really valuable skillsets, and I will carry those with me probably for the rest of my life. I do not think I can say that about any of my previous courses or many in my future. Very few college courses take into account the various ways a person can understand something such as intellectually, emotionally, and somatically. You are not going to walk in to college level calculus course and have a professor that understands you when you feel a wave of despair looking at your upcoming homework problems, and if you do—cherish that. The great thing though is that this course does, and Dr. Martinez recognizes those levels of understanding.

As I begin to involve myself more with the community here at OSU I hope to reach people when it comes to sustainable practices and ideologies. Advocating for living within your means, reusing and recycling whenever possible, and also mindfully shopping are things I hope my circle of influence will grow to adopt. I also would love to further my sustainable education by taking more courses at OSU that will help along that journey. More specifically I hope to take “Sustainability in the Built Environment”, if it aligns with my schedule, so I can have a better grasp of the nature of the relationship of my major (Interior Design) and sustainable practices. The only way to truly teach others it to be knowledgeable myself.

Another skill the course has shown me is the power of mindfulness practice. I would love to show others, especially those like me, this powerful tool to break through the chaos that can go through all of our minds every day. I have already shown my boyfriend some of the practices and he has actually done a few with me! I am hoping he’ll keep up with me, but we are both new to it all and still struggle so it can be a little discouraging at times. I am hoping to improve enough to feel confident to teach my circle of influence some practices, or even just bring about the idea of mindfulness in general to them. I am greatly appreciative of what this course has taught me, and I hope to continue to teach others as well.

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