I chose to do my iExamen on Monday, September 24th. I have never had a day in my life dedicated to observing the details surrounding me during every minute of the day. In a way I was nervous for this assignment, because I was unsure of how I really examined myself, the people around me, and my surroundings. However I was also excited, I was excited because this assignment does not only build upon traditional Jesuit techniques of self-analysis, but it opens you up to yourself, and has you take a different perspective throughout the day observing ourselves, our environment and how we communicate with it, unlike treating it as just another day, as we often seem to do.
As I began my day and my classes I passed by tons of students, I noticed students walking in groups, students walking alone, and tons of students talking on the phone or texting; everyone was preoccupied in their own way. As I was observing these students around me I realized that so many of them were in their own world. Whether it was students on their phone almost running into people, holding up the foot traffic behind them, as I sometimes do, or students walking by themselves looking down at the ground, into the trees, or searching through the crowd of students thinking they saw their friends. As I was watching all of this go on I realized that I pass by these people all the time on campus but I never take the time to really analyze the situations, because like them, I’m in my own world, talking with my friends, or on my cell phone. I couldn’t help but to think how interesting it was that every student that I passed by has their own life, their own story, and yet we were strangers busily passing each other by absorbed in our own lives, or our cell phones.
While passing by students on campus their appearance was another thing that really jumped out at me. There were so many different looks and styles that I saw. I noticed students who were dressed very well for the day with dresses or nice polo shirts, and the students wearing sweatshirts or t-shirts. There were so many different looks, tastes, and appearances all over campus that really expressed who that person was. I found that I could gather a lot by a person just be noticing what they wore, their shoes, their backpacks or purses, the jewelry they wore, the way that their hair was styled or if they were wearing a hat or scarf. However I only truly noticed these things when I wasn’t on my cell phone, or walking with friends, if I was doing one of those two things, I was occupied with them, and less involved in my surroundings. There were so many styles on campus that I felt I had never seen before, it made me realize that this diversity has been in front of me the whole time; I’ve just been too preoccupied to notice it.
Throughout the day I also analyzed and observed myself and my own actions. I realized that most of the time I’m in constant contact with my friends and family, always checking my phone right before class and immediately after class, or talking on the phone to and from class. When I was on my phone in between classes I noticed that I paid a lot less attention to my surroundings and the phone call or text message had my full undivided attention. However when I was in class and put my phone away, I become more involved in the class and the students around me, without the distractions my phone brings. While I was in my classes I kept catching myself playing with my hair, putting my hands on my face, crossing my arms, tapping my foot, I was constantly fidgeting in some way which I had never realized before. Throughout parts of my classes I found myself thinking of my next class, or homework that I had to do, I was always overloading my mind with tasks I had to do, which was exhausting. When I would talk to students in my classes or friends I paid close attention to the eye-contact throughout the conversations. If it was someone I was used to talking to I would make pretty steady eye contact as they would with me, whereas the people that I hadn’t talked to much there was less eye contact in the conversation, but most of the time I found that I would be smiling trying to make some kind of joke to lighten the mood and to make the conversation friendlier. I was surprised when I realized that at least half the people that I would talk to in class were texting on their phone, on Facebook, or on twitter. I always knew that this played a big part of our lives but I never realized how so many people are on it almost all the time.
After my last class of the day I took my phone out from my pocket and turned it off. I knew that this would be a bit of a challenge because since I have been at school I’m always talking to at least one of my friend’s, texting each other back and forth random things that have happened during the day. I turned my phone off and continued to walk back to my dorm. I immediately noticed how much more attention I gave to my surroundings. I looked at the buildings, the sky, the people walking around, and I looked up when I walking, rather than looking down to check my phone every 10 seconds seeing if I had a new text or notification. When I returned to my room my roommate and I headed to Boulder for dinner, leaving my phone and computer behind. As we were eating I realized how much more involved I was in the conversation and where I was. When I have my cell phone on me and I’m with other people I realize that although I’m there physically, half of my attention is to my phone, and I don’t always pay complete attention to what or who is directly in front of me. I noticed how my roommate would ask me to repeat what I was saying because she was distracted with her cell phone and not paying close attention to me at times. However within the hour, it was nice to feel completely present physically and mentally in my conversations and my surroundings, without the distraction of my phone or computer.
The iExamen experience was a new one to me; it was really unlike anything I had done before. Although I was nervous with the assignment it ended up showing me a lot in my everyday life that I hadn’t realized before. It showed me how much of my time and life revolves around my cell phone and computer, constantly having to communicate with people. It brought to my attention the little things in life that I’m constantly walking past without acknowledging. Without the distractions of my phone or computer I felt more present in my environment and in tune with my surroundings. Now that I have done this observation and self-analysis I’m hopeful that I’ll take more time to be fully present wherever I and whoever I’m with and appreciate the time that isn’t dedicated to phone, or computer.