Fighting the Monster Inside: How I Augmented Myself

CAPSTONE, the culmination of a student’s career at Shepherd University. An entire semester, putting as much time, effort, and resources into making one final impact on your major before graduation. Your project can have ramifications outside of your degree, it can be used outside of college to show your finest work you have done in a professional environment. It can be used as an example of what a successful CAPSTONE project is like. It can also impact its creator on a level of personal growth and understanding that can elevate them to be a better person.

My project is a radio drama public service announcement (PSA) tackling depression, anxiety, as well as the rest of the spectrum of mental illnesses in a way to make it easier to discuss and not get into a educational argument with someone over. This project is all-inclusive and doesn’t leave anyone in the dust.

I made this project to help those who are fighting through mental illnesses. I want people to know that they have support no matter where they turn, as well as to know that there are brighter days ahead in their future. They cannot let their current life situations and obstacles define the endless possibilities that life has to offer.

This project is also for those who do not understand/ do not completely grasp the concept of living with something as dangerous as a mental illness. The project is meant to show them what it is like to live with such a personal hell. It can be like a prison to those who live with such illnesses.

This project was based upon my Sound design final. The Monster Insideย portion of the project was made as a personal test for myself to try my hand at trying to create an experience with sound…to create an atmosphere.

Being more visually inclined, trying my hand at audio work seemed like a good bet to personally challenge myself. The final had gone well, so when the decision to decide what I wanted to do for my CAPSTONE project came about, I was stumped for the first week of classes. It then hit me, why not build off of something that was very well received and expand upon it.

So, over the course of this semester, through trials, tribulations, and a lot of visits to Kevin, I got my project completed piece by piece and absorbed as much information and knowledge I could from each session with Kevin about how to strive and achieve a very awe-inspiring experience of sound and emotion in one piece.

Well, while working on this project, I found out some very terrible news. A friend of mine from high school had passed away. I didn’t really keep in contact with her through our time in college, but all the memories from being in classes with her came flooding to me when I saw the obituary posted on Facebook. That night and the following week were hell personally. I took her death hard and it took some time to just cope, work things out mentally, and keep my head up. Her death, however, gave me something else: Motivation.

I became more motivated to make this project the best I could. This project can reach so many people and has the chances of making an impact on someone’s life. I wanted to make sure I got this perfectly. I was not around for the person I lost, but I could help someone else not go down that slippery slope.

The Monster Inside and The Augmentation of Selfย became a work of love , empathy, and passion. I wanted to make sure I got this right because even one slip-up and I could ruin the whole meaning behind the piece. I could not afford a mistake.

When it came time for the public presentation, it was a day full of nerves. I was really nervous about the entire thing when I got upstairs to set up my station. My board came out exactly how I wanted it, i had everything set up in a nice and organized fashion. I had two sets of headphones attached to a five-star splitter for more than one person to listen to the project at once. I made my way over to Donald Greenwalt’s station to see his project, which was a trailer for a fan made film based upon the Assassin’s Creedย video game franchise. I then went over to David Donahue’s station and we bro-hugged it out. He has been one of the best friends to me in college and we both simply said: “Holy shit dude, we survived and are about to graduate.”

I open my laptop and get the file open to listen to it one final time before presenting and my heart sank quickly. The opening to the project had chopped off a small portion of the introduction to the piece. My brain raced and I quickly had to make a trip into Audacity to make a cut to make sure the introduction sounded as good as it could given the circumstance.ย I export the file and listen to the project again in both sets of headphones to be safe. Everything was up and running. It was then time to listen to the noise. Time to face the crowd.

I have to say, those who visited my station were generally intrigued and curious as to what my project was about. Whenever they finished listening, every single person was blown away and we would make conversation about the piece and some side subjects involving a similar matter for a few minutes before they went on their way. I was also asked questions before and after the listeners heard the piece. I happily obliged to answer and made sure to be consistent and concise with my answering each question they had…although sometimes I could tell I was rambling for a bit.

My parents being at the presentation was a great experience. They also got to meet Kevin, which was interesting. I saw them all talking while I was talking to someone who wanted to listen to my piece, and after I got them taken care of with getting the piece started, I walked over and joined their conversation for a small bit. Kevin and I hugged and had a little heart to heart about how the whole process of making this project a reality. I hugged my parents and invited them to listen to the project after the person who was currently listening finished up.

My parents had never heard my project at all. I would tell them snippets and bits of information about it, but they never heard it before the public presentation. I think that was one of the most intense waves of nervousness I have ever experienced. I was not certain as to how they would handle my project. After they listened to it, I found my answer out. They enjoyed the experience and said it was trip. They also said that they were very proud of what I have accomplished while at Shepherd and hugged me again. They then went and sat down while waiting for the presentations to be over.

After tearing down the presentation station, I packed up my stuff with my parents and proceeded to put everything in our car and go to Blue Moon for dinner. I enjoyed my crab-cake sandwich with my parents as we talked about what the future may hold. I am simply gonna take it one-step-at-a-time and see where it goes from there. Working at WHAG will only go up from where I am at and I hope to learn and experience more from life. Paying of student loans is gonna be a pain in the ass, but in the end, I have improved myself as a person throughout my time at Shepherd and I have learned a lot. Personal growth is the best kind of knowledge you can acquire and it is often something taken for granted in life.

The monster inside my head has not won its battle with me, but it still likes to try and fight me. I have overcome it, but it gets sneaky and plays dirty at times. I just have to overcome and persevere. I have become a much more open and humbled person. I forget things and have my days where I am not 100%, but I still try and make the most out of what I have been given in life and that is all I ask for.