Saturday, January 30, 2010

On Easy Nostalgia

Every once and a while, you get one of those opportunities like I've had this weekend, to remember former times in a physical, not just mental, manner. It is too easy to romanticize the past, especially when the present is as difficult as it always is, and forget the true lessons of life in favor of easy nostalgia.

This lesson was brought home yesterday while I was having tea with a former grad school colleague. We're both finished with the degree, officially with Dr. before our names, and so spent time catching up on shared friends and experiences. Stories, as they often do, turned to those who didn't make it through school for one reason or another and our own times preparing for comprehensive exams.

I bring this up because I'm drowning in comprehensive exams from the other side at work. We're gearing up for the comps in history and theory that all DMA students take, I'm writing my own comps for student committees I'm on, and I'm also part of a committee re-examining our comps process and making changes. In all the discussion about current and future comps, it is too easy to romanticize my own experience, to talk about all I learned and mastered and conquered without remembering the struggle and long sleepness nights and attempts to connect the process to my ultimate goals. Meeting with my friend was a good reminder that when dealing with students and milestones in their career, easy nostalgia is no substitute for honest appraisal.

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