When I first ended up deciding to go to the College of Staten Island (CUNY CSI) in 2014 I seemingly chose my major, my courses, my schedule at random. My choice of major as Communications: Media Studies was almost entirely determined by a 15 minute research starting with me googling “what is communications” and I figured, “meh, that seems interesting enough”.
My first classes were a mix of the core studies that I was required to get into from the beginning including a math class which I swear to this day we had a week lesson on how to multiply and divide… but that’s not the point of this post. Throughout my four years in school I had a few favorite professors like Doctor Raquel Gates and Doctor Cynthia Chris, but those professors were directly aligned to my major’s studies.
That first semester had one class though that I still almost routinely have an internal monologue that calls on some of the lessons taught in one class.
Sociology 100 – Phil Sigler. Sunday 9am to 11am
I fully and completely expected to hate this class, but I was late in signing up for classes. I hate waking up early. Like… a lot. In two years at mcgarrybowen as a full member of the workforce I was on time maybe 15 out of the 500 days I worked (note* please ignore this please future employers). I needed another class though. Something that would fill up my schedule to bring me to the minimum credits required to be labelled for full time enrollment in CSI.
There’s this very real realization for me as I think back that if this class was terrible, my entire college career may have begun to cascade on a different set of dominos where I may be in an entirely different place in my life as where I am right now.
It wasn’t though. This class was a perfect intro into what college was. What college would be. What I needed in life more than anything else as a completely lost 18 year old in a sea of equally completely lost 18 year olds. There was this hyper awareness that began to dawn on me in the class little by little as I learned the base of the study of sociology and how our human character is fine tuned and developed by our world. Sociology as a study may suggest to be the study of people and trends in the human experience, but for a kid still yearning for internal understanding the study of sociology allowed me to look at my own character and self.
Professor Sigler’s lessons made me consider my own development and how I can try to build my own mental fortitude. Some of the lessons I think of when I consider political topics and then there are these moments where I’m able to step back and remember the quote that he used to open up the class from the poem The Traveller.
“How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.
Still to ourselves in every place consign’d,
Our own felicity we make or find:”
I still remember this quote to ground myself when I feel anxiety over political topics or can feel myself getting riled up by the sensational headlines one might find in the new media landscape.
The everyday, the life one lives can seem to hang in the balance of every political decision a man on TV (or twitter) and that the stress of that can seem daunting, but in truth happiness and belonging it is really within only ourselves in which we can find peace.
In some ways it helps me feel that the helplessness I may feel or experience at the mercy of the greater story-line arc of the world at whole can be stopped by mental reminders for myself. Someone can find peace in chaos. It’s mental empowerment. It feels so good to have a way to stop the spiral of anxiety that can feel like it’s always looming in the background.
Another quote it seemed Professor Sigler seemed to reiterate like a catchy chorus in a pop song…
“we can not change the cards we are dealt, only how we play the hand”
How we play the hand… you know, I’m really fucking bad at poker. But I get it. And it helps.
Even as I write this now I don’t know what I’m going to do next in life. I’ve been dealt more cards after thinking I was playing pretty well for a while. Now I’m not even sure if I’m playing poker any more than I’m playing UNO or Goldfish. But I get it. And it helps. How we play the hand.
I think in my entire semester I was late only once and that was only because I was still a paperboy and the stack of papers for me to deliver wasn’t delivered by the Staten Island Advance on time… my eventual first “real job” employer.
Or maybe this is all bullshit and the only reason I actually showed up to this class was because Professor Sigler would give out candy to the entire class every day.
I wrote this all in one chunk at 5am. This is unedited. Any incoherency and nonsense is just a real expression of the inner machinations of my mind… an enigma.