Musings of a PR Professional

Journal Entry 1 (Written on 3/7)

Last Thursday when we took the class period to decide on our “I am… but not…” phrases and decorate our t-shirts, I had a lot of fun. Although we were not working specifically on the logistics of the events we are planning, I still felt that it was one of the most productive days we had. Deciding on our phrases and actually putting them on our t-shirts made everything finally seem very real and it got us thinking about what we are asking others to do. It was exciting to start seeing things coming together for the symposium, but also unexpectedly nerve-wracking. We discussed this a bit in class, but I would like to offer my own thoughts on it here.

Confronted with having to define myself and the stereotypes attached to my identity was very difficult. This difficulty was only exacerbated by the thought of having to walk around on with the statement on our bodies. For example, Molly C. came up with the statement, “I am beautiful but not skinny,” which I love. The statement is confrontational, yet positive, and I think it is a very good example of the conversations we are attempting to facilitate. However, she was hesitant about putting it on her shirt, because it calls attention to her own insecurities. These statements are essentially an invitation into our deep thoughts and feelings about others and ourselves: some of them are hard to share, unfounded, or even inappropriate. Ultimately, I chose “I am blonde but not dumb” because I like the way it strikes a blow at a stereotype that is deeply engrained in society and therefore not taken seriously.

I faced another surprise when I took to walking around campus to hang the fliers that advertised the times people could go to the library bridge to fill out their “I am… but not…” cards. As I walked through buildings all over campus, I quickly noticed that I would become a little nervous and uncomfortable when I had to actually hang the flier. The flier that I was hanging was not necessarily provocative or controversial at first glance, but I think knowing what the flier stood for was what made hanging them difficult. It is one thing to think about the identities of others, to ask others to put themselves out there. But, when I was physically connecting myself with the event, it became a much more difficult image to face.

Thankfully, as the day went on I got used to the feeling of hanging up the fliers and became more confident doing so. In fact, I actually had a student come up to me as I was hanging one, and she asked me about the event and what we were trying to accomplish. I was very excited to have already generated interest in our symposium, just by hanging a piece of paper. I hope to continue feeling this confident on campus as I wear my t-shirt over the next month to promote the event. I also hope that wearing our t-shirts will continue what the fliers have started- creating awareness of our event. If we can continue to consistently create buzz surrounding our event, I know that it will be successful because I am very confident that the topic of our symposium is interesting and relevant to people’s lives today. So, as a member of the PR group, it is my job to make sure that Clemson students and faculty first, know that the event is going on, and second feel compelled to go.

The fliers and t-shirts are just the beginning of what we have planned, but I think that in order for this symposium to work- to truly facilitate thinking and conversations that push the envelope about identity- that we must be fearless. As the students putting on the event, we must be the ones to take that lead and be brave enough to face the uncomfortable issues that we are dealing with head on. By showing our peers and faculty that we are willing to step out of our comfort zone and that it is not only okay to do so, but also productive, because it is necessary to have these conversations. I believe that leading by example for this symposium is key to its success.

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