Purpose and Inspiration
For as long as I could remember I longed for community and connectivity. When my dad passed away when I was 12 years old I wished for someone other than my direct family that understood my pain and what I had gone through. When I became a teen and was starting to figure out who I was as an individual I longed to see representation of my individualistic qualities and traits in the media. I get lost in the isles at Barnes and Noble hoping to find myself staring back at me in the midst of a paperback. It is safe to say that I have been on a quest for something greater than just I for as long as I can remember. This project that I am proposing to complete for my senior capstone is that quest for the treasure chest that I crave. With each person I connect with, it’s that one glimmer of hope that unlocks the treasure: the community, the connectivity, the sense of self, the understanding that we all come together to create something greater than standing alone. That quest, and the final destination of mapping out the treasure with each piece I curate and receive is exactly why I have decided to embark on and embrace this project.
My project is a continuum of a past project I have completed in my COM 200, Visual Design class. Within that class I had taken an old instagram account of mine and completely rebranded it. My instagram went from @Lifeewithjenn to @Lifeewithothers. My mission has always been to find other people and to create a sense of belonging and community. Then it became clear to me that in order to achieve my mission I had to ditch the sense of self, and replace it with a sense of community and bonding and finding people that inspire. I could reach people if I shared my story, but I could reach far greater if I share stories of the collective whole. This is exactly what my project continuum is being set out to achieve. Through my project I will find people to sit down with either in person or in a virtual format and interview them. I will ask them questions that get them to shed light on who they are as an individual with vulnerability at the forefront of our conversation. Upon interviewing the individual I will then do a story write up in which I am able to share their experiences in writing. This project will allow me to perfect my interviewing skills, story writing, and forming a community. Upon the interview and story write up process I will then share the story to my instagram account. Giving the individual highlighted a chance to reshare their story to reach even more people and to get those individuals to come to my account to obtain a sense of belonging. With this I am also highlighting and incorporating my social media skills and my ability to provide and curate content for a larger audience. A community I really enjoy being a part of is Glennon Doyle’s fanbase, she coined the phrase “we can do hard things” and her book and podcast has helped so many feel less alone and more together. That is exactly what I hope to achieve with my project. You can learn more about Glennon’s bestseller Untamed here, as well as her podcast, here.
Audience and Impact
When envisioning the audience being directly impacted by my project I see people of my own age, early 20’s-late 20’s as my primary audience. Then for my secondary audience I envision individuals aged from 30-65. I envision such a large age range for my audiential scope because I believe that words and stories and the unique experience of human existence can resonate and inspire such large forces. This takes me back to what I said previously about all of us coming together to create something greater than standing alone. I am a firm believer that when we share our stories, that when we show who we are as individuals, we are affirming our sense of self, but we are also reaching out our hands to inspire and transcend others to do the same. To reveal oneself is to reveal us all. A project that really inspires me and has a similar vibe and audiential scope to that of my own is, Humans of New York.
My project was largely inspired by my enrollment and completion of my news reporting class with my professor, Dr Bhayroo. In my news reporting class we learned about the art of interviewing and had to complete interviews of our own and then transcribe the interview and tell the story based off of our own research and the interview we had conducted. Due to this prior experience I have a solid foundation and understanding of the interview process and I am now able to set out on interviews that align with my mission, to tell our personal stories in order to connect with others. In addition to this I am also a writer, I have several journals I have filled up throughout the past years in which I write about whatever it is that comes to mind. This has allowed me to tell a story in a fluential way and provides me with the foundation I need to be successful with my project.
Something that is important to me when completing this project is being able to encapsulate everything I have learned throughout my time as a Communications Student at Saint Joseph’s University. This point of importance was largely discussed at my consultation meeting. I expressed to my consultant, Dr. Aimee Knight, that I want to be creative but I also want to shed light on my professionalism as it relates to my education and a potential future career. Dr. Knight had shared with me that although my project is very creative in nature it also sheds light on my professional qualities and skills. It showcases my ability to:
- Create content and then to share that content with a larger audience given my social media platform that I will be utilizing throughout the scope of my project.
- My ability to grow as an individual with interviewing all different kinds of people thus breaking out of my comfort zone.
- My ability to create something bigger than myself.
These characteristics are a testament to my time as a Com Student. I have obtained and developed these skills throughout my classes. One out of two main experiences that come to mind for me is my civic media class in which we developed a meditative experience as a class whole where we shared a piece of writing with inspiring audio overplaying. This is a moment where I felt like I was a part of something greater than myself but I also felt like a key player. Another experience I had and perhaps my greatest one is the experience I had recently in my Web Design class. Towards the end of the semester I completely switched my portfolio content with little time left in the semester. I did this because I wanted to stay true to me and my passions rather than trying to fit into a mold that I would never fit. My senior capstone project in which I am proposing is true to my passions and who I am as a person. It is in full alignment with the skills I have picked up through my education at Saint Joseph’s University yet it allows me to explore things of my personal interest at the same time.
When it comes to research for my project I think I will need to look more into interviewing in a personal way. I need to learn how to be inclusive with my interviewing skills but allow the individual that I am interviewing to share their own light, and for me to share their light and own voice in a meaningful way. I will conduct this research by reading up on columns that touch on the art of interviewing and share meaningful ways on how to write a person’s story and bring it to full fruition.
Obstacles and Resources
When it comes to obstacles it may sound silly but it is my own mind that I will be juggling and dealing with. I have always had a problem with a negative inner voice in my head telling me that I am not good enough and that I am nothing in comparison to my peers. My inability to see myself as a creator, communicator, and artist, may also interfere with my progress. Yet it is these bumps in the road that I plan on hurdling. I will overcome these obstacles with daily affirmations.
I am a creator.
I am a communicator.
I am an artist.
I am also currently enrolled in a mindfulness communications class that is actually being taught by my consultant, Dr. Aimee Knight. This class helps me stay grounded and remain in peace when my own mind wants to escape from me.
While working out the timeline of my project with myself and my consultant we came to a conclusion that a solid plan would be figuring out the number of people I want to interview and what that will look like. For me a solid plan would be interviewing one person a week and then publishing a person’s story once a week via social media. This allows me for interviewing and publication each week in the semester which will keep me very busy. At the end of the semester I will give myself about two weeks to create my edesign book which will encompass each individual I personally interviewed and shared their story. My ebook will also consist of anonymous stories as well so I can account for the people that may not yet feel comfortable in sharing their story in a formalized way through personal interviewing. This then gives that individual a chance to share their story without their names attached. In addition to this I will be keeping a personal journal that will allow me to write about this experience and the community I am forming and additionally what I am learning from each individual I am talking to and sharing vulnerability with.