Chapter 1: “The Enigma of Self-Awareness” from Chapter 1 is a very important concept because I think knowing yourself allows you to make many important decisions in your life. If I did not know myself, I would not be able to decide what I really want to do in this moment, let alone in the next 5 or 10 years. Throughout my life, I am always trying to get to know myself better, so that I can create an environment where I am comfortable and satisfied that I am doing the right thing. For example, the courses I have chosen to study all reflect a part of me. I decided to study these courses because I find them interesting, and I know that I will be able to grow personally by taking these courses. Of course, we are always discovering ourselves throughout life, and I think the more we understand who we are, the better decisions we will make about our futures, and what we are doing in the present. A concept that is discussed under “The Enigma of Self-Awareness,” is perhaps tied to me subconsciously. As a student, it is often difficult to have confidence in your abilities. I know that I am capable of much success, but school can be a challenge sometimes. I think part of this is because I have not proven myself. Each time I approach anything in school, I am often trying to figure something out for the first time. This often makes me feel inadequate over those who already know the information. However, I do not believe I really recognize this fact without being prompted to think about it.
Chapter 2: “The Three Stages of Reactions to Stress” stands out to me the most in this chapter, because it is something that I struggle with from time to time. I am learning to cope better with stress, but the three stages as set out in the chapter really capture the way that I feel about some situations that come up in my life. For example, I helped clean my friend’s apartment when she was moving. One month later, she needed to move again, and she wanted me to go help clean her apartment again. I was so busy and I told her that I could not. She then confronted me and we got in a big argument. When she became angry with me, I was alarmed, and I felt a lot of anxiety, and sorrow that she assumed I would drop everything to help her again. I then tried to resist my anxiety in this confrontation, but that just made me more anxious. I was then exhausted about the whole situation, and finally left in a huff.
Chapter 3: “Conceptual Blocks,” is the most important concept in this chapter to me, because it is something I frequently deal with. I think mental obstacles are a hindrance to many people throughout their lives. It is a problem that makes it hard for me to identify the problems. For example, if I become overworked, I find it very difficult to ensure that I am able to get everything done in the right order. This is because I become overwhelmed and develop conceptual blocks.
Chapter 4: “Problems with Electronic Communication,” is an area that applies closely with my, and many other people’s lives. I find electronic communication creates barriers between people, and it becomes very hard to communicate. I think technology, however, can be great at assisting many people in communicating much better, but I prefer in-person or phone communication over texting, for example.
Chapter 5: “Expertise” is a concept that applies very closely to my life. There are some areas where I am an expert, such as music. I find that areas where I am an expert really help me to be confident in areas where I am not an expert. This is because I was once a novice at everything, but I was eventually able to overcome the challenges of learning, and I eventually became an expert on the topic.
Chapter 6: “Diagnosing Poor Performance” is a very important part of me becoming better at what I am doing. I found that learning English was one of the hardest things to do in my life. Diagnosing my knowledge gaps really allowed me to improve. If I was not able to see where I needed to improve, I would not have been able to make the necessary changes.
Chapter 7: “Avoiding,” is a very important downfall in my life that I need to address. I tend to avoid many confrontations, and this is because I seem to understand where everyone is coming from, I think. This leads me to not want to hurt anyone’s feelings by telling them that they are wrong. However, this does not solve many problems, and I need to find a way so that I am making my point while not hurting anyone’s feelings. If I do not do this, no progress is made.
Chapter 8: “Self-determination,” is a quality that I need to pay close attention to in my life, because it has brought me far. If it was not for self-determination, I would not have overcome the challenge of learning English to a level where I thought I was fluent enough to be able to compete with native-English speakers for jobs, for example – or to perform at a high academic level, where I am being evaluated based on what the average of my English-speaking peers are achieving.
Chapter 9: “Confronting” is an important aspect of my life because it is something that I do not do enough of. Even though I think confrontation is sometimes necessary to make improvements in my life, and the life of others, I find that it is often hard for me to confront people. I think this may be because I am so young, and I do not yet have the confidence to tell someone who is older than me that what they are doing is wrong, for example.
I would like to discuss an experience that I had on a bus, where I acknowledged that confrontation was necessary. As I explained earlier, “confrontation” was the most salient aspect of Chapter 9 for me, because it is an area where I lack, and where I would like to improve upon. I view confrontation as often being unnecessary, but sometimes it is important to confront people who are behaving poorly, just as you would a child, and stand up for what is right.
Last month, I was riding a bus to my friend’s house. The bus was packed, and I was standing near the front where three old ladies (who were each approximately 90 years old) were sitting. These seats were reserved for elderly and disabled people. After riding the bus for about 4 stops, a large man stepped onto the bus and then walked past me to sit in the vacant seat next to the old women. One of the woman said, “You can’t sit here. You’re too fat.” The man quickly brushed off the insult and walked towards a seat across from the three old women. After the man sat down, he said, “I’m sorry, I was in a car accident and I am not able to exercise.” The woman scuffed, as did her two elderly peers sitting next to her. The woman who had insulted the man said, “Well, I just don’t think there is enough room for you on this bus. You are way too fat.” The obese man did not say anything.
The three old women continued to talk to each other about how “fat” the man was, saying things like, “How does someone get so fat?” The other women nodded in agreement, and then began to also speak up, calling the obese man “disgusting.”
I felt absolutely appalled at what these women were saying, and my heart began racing. As mentioned, I experience some anxiety when I am under stress, and I become initially shocked. I collected myself, and knew that I needed to step in to defend this poor man. This was a challenge for me, because I have some problems speaking out against people who are older than me, perhaps because I feel that they should be wiser than I am. These old women certainly were not wiser than I, and I was certain that I was correct in determining that their behaviour is unacceptable. I felt they were not just doing a disservice to the poor man who is being scorned, they are also doing a disservice to me, and to the good individuals on the bus who were hearing these insults. Furthermore, they were doing a disservice to humanity, and they provided a poor example for how people should behave. So I spoke out.
“I can’t believe I am hearing what I am hearing,” I said. To which the old lady responded, “Oh, well.”
“Seriously,” I said, “you should be so ashamed of yourselves for saying this.”
“Well, he is just so fat,” one of the old women responded.
My heart was pounding, but I knew what I was doing was right.
“The weight of the man has nothing to do with what is right or wrong. It is your attitude that needs adjustment. There is nothing wrong with him, but there is certainly something wrong with you.”
The women did not say anything, and they just made faces, as if to say “Oh, well,” once again. I just stared at them, and they would not make eye contact with me. I felt like I had done my duty as a human being, and this was certainly a time when confrontation was needed, so that I could stand up for what was right.