Welcome to Infinite Wisdom

WISDOM (2)

By Joseph Cox

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The quote above has been dear to my heart for some time now, and I’ve used it to structure not only my partial leadership of this blog but also my research, writing projects, and class writings. In the past few years, I’ve rarely, if ever, written something solely because I needed a grade or had to create a filler article for the blog while another writer was struggling with other tasks. Everything I write has a piece of me in it and helps me find the parts of myself that were previously unknown to me. I continue writing to keep discovering more about myself and who I am as a person.

In the first official Infinite Wisdom meeting, I addressed the newest group of staff writers and made a simple point: “I don’t care about this blog… I care about each of you.” I said this point not because I aimed to create a nonchalant environment for the blog but because writing shouldn’t come from a forced place. Everyone should be free to express the stories they have tucked within themselves without judgement or censorship and grow with each post that’s submitted. Looking back, the viewers of the blog can see Rachael’s thought provoking, heart-wrenching, posts that began as only a textbook, high-school formula essay. Victoria’s posts have ranged from the construction of new worlds, both within the mind and outside of it, to her newfound understanding of God. Jade’s work is constructed with quips, words, and rhyme schemes that have a quick, wispy, bite to them – which never fail to impress me. Sabrina, the mechanical engineer, has demonstrated her love for music and written on the things that make her human, whenever she isn’t forced to endure the many burdens of calculus. Sam’s gone from using sentences that have four subjects and five verbs in them to establishing cogent arguments that transform the world into a better place, even if it is through only a few readers, and, finally, Jay has become an effective leader who shares his love for the blog and for storytelling in every meeting.

In short, you, as the viewer, have had the opportunity to witness the many points, stories, and personal anecdotes our many writers have brought forward, but I can see where the stories come from. I watched as Rachael overcame the bulimia that had plagued her, Victoria found the group of friends that brought her closer to God, Jade proudly proclaimed the odd writing projects she was undertaking, Sabrina nervously presented her first articles, Sam pounded away at the keyboard for hours, and Jay hesitantly spoke publicly in our first meetings together. I’m both honored and proud to work with every writer here.

Here’s my point, I’ve promised in the past, as I will happily promise again, that participating in Infinite Wisdom, either as a viewer or writer, will increase your writing ability, but that ability has never been why I joined this blog. Writing isn’t about where to put commas, what a grammatical antecedent is, or how to use a hyphen. Rather, it’s about the wonderful art that’s constructed from the implementation of those techniques, the safe-haven that construction can create for anyone willing to try it, and, most importantly, it’s about finding yourself in the pages, whether it be the blank writing space in front of you or the stories of another. The words may make you a better writer, sure, but what matters is bettering, and coming to know, the person typing the words.

I hope you will join us.

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Are You Happy? A Letter To The 2017 Freshman Class

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By Joe Cox

“I know very little about anything, but what I do know is that if you can live your life without an audience… you should do it.” – Bo Burnham, Make Happy.

Once I had entered class half an hour late, sweat dripped haphazardly from my dampened hair onto the scantron that had just escaped my moistened fingertips. My teal shirt faded into a darker shade as the moisture from my body soaked into the thin summer cloth. At the time, I hadn’t left the house in months, and my pale skin glistened with droplets lining the thin blonde hairs on my arms. I attempted to hide my gulps for air from the rest of the class, for they had each managed to find their way here without a hitch. I caught the peripheral glare of the girl seated next to me, as a dense heat radiated from every orifice of me. A test of grammatical ability sat in front of me; I despised grammar at the time. I received a 48 on that test, on that first day of class, on that first day at UWF.

After Intro to Literature was over, I met with my girlfriend at the time for what we thought would be lunch, but we couldn’t find the cafeteria. Instead, we searched the campus for shade on that 100-degree day only to find a dirty staircase near Pace Hall – the hall I would call home in just one short year. My girlfriend munched on some vanilla wafers and whined about how the nurse working on the blood drive bus couldn’t get the needle into her veins. I reminded her that she had pathetically tiny veins in an attempt at getting a smile to emerge from the stress tears she was releasing. I succeeded while withholding stress of my own.

My next class didn’t turn out better than the first, as I arrived late once again. Anyone who knows me well knows I’m as skilled with spatial orientation as Donald Trump is at negotiating with North Korea and creating healthcare referendums, so let’s say it took me a bit to find my way. I made my way into the room, found the roll sheet situated at the front of the class that had already begun, scanned for my name, and was met with the disappointing realization that my name was not on the list. I pleaded with my teacher, “I know I have the right building it said so on e-learning!” “I updated the roll this morning,” said the professor grimly, as I faintly cowered into my raised shoulders. “Just take a seat,” he said to end the painful conversation. Sweating once more, with a stain that easily extended the length of my back, I sat in the center of the room to the dismay of the people situated beside me. “Anatomy and Physiology” read the large bold letters headlining the PowerPoint presentation in front of me… I was a long way from Intro to Philosophy.

Quickly, I gathered my light backpack, which had just one binder in it, and I rushed to the door behind the class at the top of the lecture hall. Looking back towards the front, I caught the angry, questioning, face of the professor to which I gave only a shrug in reply. I checked my schedule on e-learning once more, found that the room information had changed, rushed across campus, and, once again, arrived half an hour late. My professor snarled at me as I sat in a plastic chair in front of him with every orifice oozing sweat – my skin was paste at this point. I was told that I had three more opportunities to be late. Upon my third instance of tardiness, I would be deducted a letter grade… I dropped the class the next day not because of the irritating tone of the professor, but because he capitalized every R he wrote on the board – clearly psychotic, right?

In the next month, my girlfriend had cheated on me, and I was left to wander the campus on my own. During that first semester, I made no friends in class, dropped my biology lab due to my emotional inability to get out of bed, spent most of my time performing logical derivations and playing video games from the confines of my room, and I drove an hour to and from school every day.

Semester two rolls around, I meet another girl. I date her out of a blind need for affection that hid my ridiculous number of insecurities, I had my heart broken once more, and I started working out shortly after – no more sweaty days on campus for me. When I wasn’t waking up at 6 a.m. to work out before school, going to class, or playing video games, I lay catatonic in my bed. My face would rest crookedly on the edge of my mattress with faint daylight peaking in from behind my navy drapes and white window shades. If my exes weren’t on my mind, then my depression surely was. Nirvana, Mayday Parade, and who knows how many screamo bands would blare through my headphones as I lay there for a semester trying to avoid any prying questions my parents might ask out of care. I wondered how to shake the pain, how to feel better again, and how to feel whole again. I wondered how to be happy.

Ready for the funny part?

Do you remember the Intro to Philosophy class I dropped the first week of school? I’m not only a philosophy major now, but I’m also working as a logic tutor on campus, serving as the president of Phi Sigma Tau, and presenting a philosophy based presentation at the National Collegiate Honors Conference. The horrible relationships I was in? I don’t even think traditional relationships are rational now, and I couldn’t be happier about that understanding. The catatonic boy in bed has morphed into this crazy, pun spewing, philosophy loving, open, and unafraid person that I pride myself in being today. I’m a mentor, a Secular Student Alliance leader, a tutor, a president, and a smart-aleck, but, most importantly, I’m just a kid trying to do right by the catatonic boy that survived all that pain. It’s funny how everything fluctuates.

To get to the point of telling you all this, and to address the question asked in the title, I offer you this one piece of advice: do whatever the hell you want to do. In the coming weeks, you’ll undoubtedly be bombarded with challenges, goals, people, and paths that you didn’t know existed. In one fancy lecture hall, someone in some suit and some tie will be telling you about how you’re at the greatest university in Florida, in the south, in the panhandle, in the nation, in the universe, in the multiverse, or in whatever location the guy chooses to use all while you’re encouraged to do this, do that, do work with him, see things with her, learn from that thing, look at this thing, and who knows what else. You’ll be told you’ll want to speak with an advisor, set up a plan, think about a thesis, craft some goals, go to some events, venture here, go there, or do something else. The truth of these to-do’s is simple: no one has any idea what you should do. I know because I’ve seen hundreds of people take hundreds of the paths and end up in hundreds of places, just as you have likely seen already.

I, nor anyone else, can guarantee you success if you follow some step-by-step “here’s how the be successful in a cliché idea of the world” guide, just like no one can guarantee you failure if you drop out of school, move to Idaho, and take up juggling on a potato farm. The best any of us have are some archetypal examples, correlations from strange sources we probably can’t cite, our own experiences, and “reason,” which everyone has a different definition of. There’s no right or wrong way to live life, no right or wrong path to take, and NO pressure to live some perfect, always happy in la la land, lifestyle that many modern people strive.

When people say, “The world is your oyster,” they often fail to mention that the world doesn’t consist of only one oyster. The oysters of life, found in the new opportunities and new people always surrounding you, are innumerable.  In college, a tidal wave chocked full of these oysters is going to wash over you in an instant. Sometimes, once that tidal wave has crashed, the oyster you choose to pick up reeks with the stench of the ocean, sometimes it’s slimy and crawls up your arm to slither along your eyes, sometimes your oyster dies right when you open it, sometimes you can’t even get the shell open despite REALLY wanting to, and sometimes you’ll throw one oyster away to have the opportunity to pick up ten more. Alternatively, the oyster might be amazing, speak English, solve world hunger, and create dope tunes with you like the clams in SpongeBob, but those oysters are tough to find. Sometimes, you may even find that the searching through all those oysters was the best part all along.

So, like Bo, I too know very little about ANYTHING, but what I do know is that if you are actively plowing through whatever oysters you so choose, doing the things you want to do, seeing the things you want to see, and letting yourself blossom like the beautiful flower you probably are, then you’re probably happier than most of Earth’s inhabitants. The earth can be a lonely place when you’re laying catatonic on a bed, so, unless that’s what the hell you want to do, don’t do it. Let the song in your heart play not because the world needs to hear but because you deserve to let it free.

And I, for one, will always be around to listen.

A Letter to Freshmen

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By Samuel Alvarado

Freshman year of college is less than a month away for the class of 2021, and high school will soon feel like it was ages ago. And now, you are about to start a new chapter of your life that will be unlike anything you’ve known before. It is alright to be scared, it is alright to be hesitant, and it is alright to be worried, for those feelings are only natural as the melancholic reminiscence of days in the known environment of high school are left in order to start anew.

The newfound freedom, responsibility, and opportunities that come with life at college are sure to be challenging to adjust to now that you don’t have parents watching your every move. Where once there was a required and early schedule, there is now the freedom to choose. You now have choices such as to sleep in until noon, stay up through the dead of night, or not go to a class because you choose not to (although you should just go to class). The task at hand is to find a happy medium between the newfound freedom of college and the possible consequences of your choices and actions. For instance, you could choose to stay out late every night for the first half of the semester and attend class but not do much studying. Fun, right? Unfortunately, the consequences of such freedom can be devastating. Your grades start to slack, and you end up losing scholarships because your GPA suffered from the lack of effort. I know that predicament all too well, as I made the mistake of not putting enough effort into my classes and ignoring those responsibilities. Because of the mistakes I have made, I urge you to be careful in how much freedom you give yourself when going out while the responsibilities of college go unnoticed. Now, college tuition and boarding are costly reminders that you are no longer in the relatively cheaper setting of high school. The freedom to make your own schedule and be more self-determinant is great when used properly to pursue the career you want and be the person you choose. Responsibilities, however, wait for no one and cannot be ignored for long.  You are no longer able to pass the blame onto someone else as easily or try to wriggle out of something you have done without some sort of consequence. Responsibility is learned whether you wanted to learn it or not.

The opportunities of college can be a welcome mediator between the freedom to choose and responsibilities. You are given many opportunities at college to see who you want to be as well as where you want to go in life. Whether you want a career in medicine or a career in art, the opportunity will arise if you are prepared to act. For example, I was given the opportunity multiple times through the UWF Kugelman Honors Program to be actively involved in volunteer work at the beach and getting to know student leaders. I was also given the opportunity to be a leader in the program and talk to current leaders about leadership positions currently held by Honors Students at UWF. I chose to go after these opportunities and gained new responsibilities while making advances into the field I want a career in by taking steps to show my leadership skills and potential. These opportunities were presented to me by a fellow Honors Student who was a leader in both RHA and the Kugelman Honors Program. With the support and encouragement of my wonderful fellow Infinite Wisdom Staff Writer Jade, I am now the Secretary of RHA. The only reason I now have the opportunity to show who I am now and what I can do is that I changed my ways from the beginning of my freshman year to the end of it. I still take time to be free, go to the beach, and relax, but now I can better balance the fun with the responsibilities of college life. With my current leadership position, I am responsible for helping other people make college easier for themselves, and I would not have been able to do this if I had not chosen to change how I handled my new found freedom. College is all about trying out different things to see how you will respond to them such as student organizations, fitness classes, courses in varying subjects, and new life experiences.

If you learn to balance your freedoms and responsibilities while going after new opportunities in college, you will be all the better for it. How you do it is up to you, but I would suggest from experience that you seek the advice of peer mentors who can help steer you in the right direction.

What is Honors?

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By Jade Jacobs

This article can be considered as an open letter to the incoming freshmen. Look at this as a mini crash-course on “what have I gotten myself into” of sorts. If you’re like most of us, you’re moving off to college and joining the Kugelman Honors Program because an honors student is what you’ve always been. Hailing from the lands of AP and dual enrolled course work, you feel like college is just another step on the way to that dream job. Sure, having “graduated with honors” on your diploma looks nice for your resumé, but being a member of the Kugelman Honors Program offers so much more than a check mark in a box. It’s not just about the prestige or specialized classes, it’s about a network and community that will have impacts lasting long after graduation.

This fall I’ll be starting my third year within the Kugelman Honors Program, and if someone had told me when I started that I would be in the position I’m in today, I probably would’ve nodded at the ground and silently walked away. Working my way up from an introverted freshman to running student organizations such as the Residence Hall Association and National Residence Hall Honorary wasn’t something I had planned, it’s something that resulted from connections I made on campus and within Honors. Stepping out of my comfort zone has never been easy, but the people I’ve become surrounded by here have made it an adventure. I could have easily hidden myself away in my room freshman year and avoided the amazing events Honors and UWF offer, but I never would’ve met many of the most interesting people at UWF. Bonding with my mentor Alyssa and waving ‘hello’ to my across-the-hall neighbor in my first few days here ended up gaining me two of my best friends. Alyssa ended up inspiring me to become an Honors mentor myself, leading to more wonderful experiences and an amazing support system with my colleagues.

In everything from simply attending Honors Council meetings and volunteering or enjoying committee events, to going to Honors retreat, presenting at conferences, and studying abroad, the Kugelman Honors Program is more than just a line on paper. Honors gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizon, build character, learn and strengthen leadership skills, and be a part of something much larger than yourself. All you need to do is decide that you want to make it happen. Opportunity is knocking, it’s time to choose whether or not you’re going to open the door.