Embracing the Confusion

As one of my last summers in Pittsburgh, I can’t help but grow nostalgic about all the things that I’ve come to love in this city. Namely, the tacos, the view from Flagstaff Hill, and the occasional (emphasis on occasional) pierogi. This summer has brought much-needed guidance and unknowing to my project, much of which is incredibly helpful! In a meeting with Dr. Keating, I actually said, “It’s interesting. I feel like the more I know, the less I actually feel like I know. Now, I know that I did this part of the project incorrectly. But, at least, I figured out that the project was done wrong?”

It’s funny—I look at this thesis as a completely different challenge. When I was a little kid, I was obsessed with perfection. If I didn’t like a drawing, I would rip the paper to shreds and start again. With this amount of research, it’s almost impossible to rip it to shreds and start anew. Every mistake and imperfection in what I do for this project leads me towards a different direction with this project. Now, I feel like every tangential occurrence feeds this project, as opposed to veers away from what it’s supposed to do.

In a sense, while I can’t rip up this project to tiny, tiny pieces (even though I want to) it has already taught me the importance of realizing that part of the journey is making mistakes. They contribute to the project just as much as the successful accomplishments. Doing parts of the project over further engrain the ideas and theories into my head, which is helpful.

And as for the element of not knowing, I mean, I’ve read about election law for two months. If the solution was apparent, I wouldn’t have a topic for a thesis. So in a way, I’m thankful for the lack of consensus between state and federal government on redistricting law. That comment might have crossed the line (redistricting pun), but I went into this project thinking that law could not be partisan. The law is the law, and theoretically, should be unbiased. Well, boy have I learned something. The law is a mysterious, politically motivated, illogical entity weaving its way through exceptions and loopholes. I don’t know enough about it, but it has been both insightful and inciteful to go on this year-long endeavor to learn more about it.