Growing Pains

In my opinion, wicked problems are one of those things that you don’t give much thought to until they’re staring you straight in the face. Especially if you have no prior knowledge of what they are or how they affect us. Having spent the time in this course was a huge eye opener for me. Not only was I completely unaware of the size of many of these problems, but I also had no idea how much I was doing that played into them becoming more severe. I had thought for so long that as an individual I couldn’t do much to stop what was going on since it was obviously a global issue, but now I feel a strange sense of guilt for not making the small changes sooner to be a part of the shift toward a more sustainable lifestyle, which would possibly result in a more sustainable future for us all. My time in this course has sent me through a rollercoaster of many different emotions. Although I try to mask it with an intense sense of confidence that may or may not be taken as narcissism, I tend to feel more for others than for myself, especially when it comes to situations that I do not have much control over. After the initial guilt that I felt from learning more about wicked problems and just how difficult it would be to find solutions, I moved more into a feeling of determination and an urge to search for all of the possible ways that I could advocate for change or simply make the changes in my own life. As this course comes to an end, I can tell that I have grown in many different ways. I am much better off than I was in August about letting my emotions get the best of me and really thinking with both my head and my heart instead of one over the other. There are plenty of quick changes we can make in order to take back the damage we’ve done, but in doing that we completely ignore many of the factors that come into play. I remember wanting more than anything to be able to snap my fingers and turn back the clock to a time where things were not as bad, or to a time where things could be easily reversed. It became something that ate away at my thoughts, I couldn’t seem to get rid of it no matter how hard I tried, and it was just about as repetitive as this post seems. Being given the opportunity to practice mindfulness is something that I’m extremely grateful for now, because honestly at first I thought it would never work for me, and I considered it a waste of time. Time that could have been spent in any other way. Now that the course is finished I truly see myself continuing to practice mindfulness as a way to offset the stress of everyday life and to find balance in the chaos. Mindfulness gave me a quick escape from overwhelming thoughts that came from both my new knowledge of wicked problems, other global issues, and the various new experiences that I faced going day to day as a college freshman in a town far from home. I can definitely say that over the past eight weeks, my views on meditation have flipped drastically, and I almost wish that I could continue on just for the ten minutes set aside every Tuesday to look into the many different mindfulness techniques that can be offered. 

Personally, I think that I have achieved the goal of developing a compassionate and humble response to the many wicked problems we face. I have found that the best way for me to reach this was looking through the lens of the industry that I am working to become a part of. I was introduced to the many problems caused by the fashion industry, not only in production, but also in mindlessly throwing away clothing that is no longer in use. I made the conscious choice at the beginning of the course to watch the places that I shop in hopes that they’re more sustainable or contribute something to the environment other than an excess of smog or wasteful byproducts from production. I have also found that the easiest way to express more compassion to the world around me, it has to start small, with my peers and any individuals I come across from day to day. I still stick by the belief that one small act of kindness can change the course of anyone’s day, no matter if they are on the giving or the receiving side.

I do realize now that I don’t have as huge of an impact as I thought I did, and my feelings of guilt have been minimized as I have moved along in Wicked Problems. I have made the few changes that I can in order to do my part. I also consider myself to be extremely open minded when it comes to new approaches to current issues instead of pretending I do not see what’s going on around me. Along with this I believe that I have become much more aware of the everyday changes that I can make. I’ve been able to have conversations with multiple people that are part of my life and educate them on the possible outcomes that would be the result of us choosing to ignore these wicked problems. Although sometimes they are difficult conversations to have, after you plant the seed within someone, it has a tendency to stick and cause that person to look more into them and think about their individual impact. I try my hardest to stay educated and up to date with issues and plan to continue this as I move forward in my life because I have a newfound goal to be a catalyst for change and really work to make a difference. I’ve always been a big believer in donating over discarding, especially when it comes to clothes, and I plan to continue this practice for as long as I possibly can, and with this I consider every item I buy, it’s durability, and how long or how much I can utilize it. I have learned that the small things like this can make a difference when actively done by many people, and I hope that I have been able to instill these beliefs and ideas into my peers, family members, and any others that I may come in contact with.

Looking back on my personal experience with this class, I am grateful for each way that I grew in my knowledge, opinions, and reactions. Before this, I viewed growth as a thing that didn’t necessarily happen to everyone, almost like it was painful for certain groups of people, and I was definitely one that experienced those pains. Now I see it as something to be celebrated rather than something to fear or resist, and I pray that as I continue on my path, I continuously grow and change into the person I’m meant to be, while shaping the world to be something that I’m proud of.

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