Spring Cleaning

By: Adair Bingham

Fall and winter have long been my favorite times of the year. For all of my life, I have adored the frosty morning chills, the muted reds and maroons of the leaves, and even the never-ending rainfall. It’s a naturally quiet, almost serene time of the year, and I’m sad to see it come and go so fast.

Although fall and winter are my personal favorite seasons, I will admit that I am cautiously hopeful and optimistic about what’s to come as spring and summer draw near. Fall and winter proved to be quite challenging this time around, and they’ve both left me wanting to change my attitude about some things and start fresh, in a sense.

With spring just around the corner, I want to see it as an overdue way to start fresh, just three months late from the new year. I wasn’t able to get off on the right foot at the start of 2020, despite waxing poetic about how important it is to take on new challenges with a bright and cheery smile, especially at the start of a new decade. Maybe a new season is just the change I need, and I’m going into spring with just that kind of perspective. 

As much as I enjoy dark and frosty weather, I do think that I’m in dire need of some sunshine. Its been proven that weather can have a profound impact on not only your mood, but also your emotional state, so it’s a good idea to understand how the weather may impact you by being in tune with not only your body but also your mind. With the way things have been going for me recently,  I think a little ray of sunshine is all that I need, and maybe something that we could all use, too. 

I’m assuming that I’m not only one, so with beaming and dazzling weather on its way, I’d also say it’s for the best if we all take some initiative to welcome spring with open arms. So start your spring cleaning a little early, start picking your favorite flowers for your garden, and get ready to welcome in a breath of fresh air!

Surviving Midterms 101

By: Adair Bingham

Throughout my years of academics, my professors, peers, and even my family have all valiantly attempted to hammer me with all kinds of note-taking strategies. Of the multitude that they’ve tried to insist are the “best,” I’ve found that only one truly works for me. It’s referred to as “writing it instead of reading it”, but a better phrase for remembering this technique is, “he who writes it reads it three times”.

Personally, I’ve found this to be one of the most helpful tactics when it comes to revisiting old lecture notes and studying for challenging exams. Not only does it force you to actually go through your notes more than once, but it also helps you to retain that information via muscle memory, which is always favorable for tests! So write, write, write! 

With midterms and exams fast approaching, I think that this is a very beneficial strategy to consider and eventually adapt for all of your studying sessions. Although note taking is different for everyone, I find this method of review to be a very underappreciated and little-known form of note-taking.

It’s a proven fact that the more you write down something, the better you retain it. So I personally think it’s something to keep in mind as midterms, projects, and hordes of homework continue to creep up as we hit the halfway mark of winter term. The sooner you implement it, the easier it becomes to study, and your GPA will thank you for it. 

And another pivotal thing to keep in mind with midterms, exams, and projects drawing near: It isn’t going to be the end of the world if you end up not doing terribly good on something, no matter what it may be. There’s a ridiculous amount of pressure put onto students, high school and university alike, to perform exceedingly well on exams. But the truth is that, in the long-run, how you performed on an exam isn’t the be-all-end-all that most people think it to be. 

Afterall, you don’t truly learn from immediate success, you’re only ever able to really gain something from failure. So learn to take your failures in stride, and be dutifully aware of what does, and doesn’t, contribute to your success in the future.

No Time Like The Present

By: Adair Bingham

Every year, people find themselves trying to implement egotistic New Year’s resolutions and self-betterment plans to try and work on themselves and encourage their loved ones to attempt to do the same. Many of these half-baked resolutions fall through during the first few months of the New Year, often earlier, and then quickly become the elephant in the room. Nobody likes admitting failure, and thus they simply move on with their lives and find it better to ignore their half-hearted attempts at what could’ve been a fulfilling resolution.

With a new decade upon us, I think that it’d be best for us (especially those caught in awkward, transitional periods of life) to commit to at least one resolution: self-care. We can ease off of those often strict and overly harsh regulations that we put onto ourselves and focus on improving ourselves at our own pace. By acknowledging the importance of accepting life’s challenges at your own pace, the world suddenly becomes a lot easier to navigate.

Everywhere I look, both in the real world and online, I find hordes of people preaching about the importance of self-care and self-acceptance, but no one ever actually seems to follow through with what they wax poetic about. If you’re going to rhapsodize about the inherent beauty of performing self-care and practicing self-acceptance, then, at the very least, acknowledge that it is not a simple one-step process to self-love. It’s a long, conflicting, and often confusing journey that will take an extraordinary amount of time, energy, and effort to achieve. To put it bluntly; it’s a horrifically ugly and often lonely undertaking, but in doing so, an entirely new world can be discovered.

So, as we all welcome a decade into our lives, let’s all try our best to prioritize our mental health and well-being, and understand that that there is no wrong way to lead your life. By simply doing things at your very own pace, you are succeeding and advancing, and that’s all there is to it.

A Struggle To Find My Way

By: Adair Bingham

The start of this academic year has been incredibly difficult for me, to say the least. Left and right, I have been faced with new obstacles and challenges that seem to be popping up around every corner without warning; Yes, a new challenge is always welcome, but I would like to challenge it in a way that works best for me! I feel as if many people, myself included, find themselves to be self-conscious of their unique work habits, as well as the stylized flair that they add to their work. Personally, I find it to be a nifty little quirk that helps us stand out as individuals, something of which I find important. As such, at least recently, I have found myself (subtly or obviously) straying away from the expectations of those around me. It is a new mindset that I have adapted, initially believing that it would help me to discover myself a bit more. Which, yes, it has, and tremendously so! Yet, this new manner of thinking has also posed some needlessly difficult complications for me, further adding to the growing amount of hardships that lay in my path.

With these challenges, I have been attempting to integrate new and versatile methods of tackling them in a style that is unique to me. These tactics range from simply “doing it my way”, to going as far as to attempt to meet and exceed every expectation of those around me. The latter has not helped me, sadly. But, approaching a task in a way that I enjoy and in a manner that avoids expectations has resulted in nothing but positive feedback for me.

By this I mean that I am no longer “blindly following the leader,” so to speak. This has been most obvious in my studio drawing class, in which I have been blatantly (and unapologetically) applying my own approach to what is supposed to a still-life class. I’ve drawn drooling dogs with two huge mouths, a collage of nothing but gnashing teeth, and an extravagant piece of fan art as homage to one of my favorite video games. I wasn’t punished for doing so, in fact, it was even celebrated that I went above and beyond. That gave me confidence in my own style without shame.

Gaining this kind of self-confidence has not been easy, and it’s been a long journey to this point. Doing things my way and incorporating myself into my work (both school and otherwise), has helped me to not only have a better understanding of myself, but it has also helped me to muster up self-confidence that I didn’t think was possible. So next time you’re given a new task, approach it with your head held high and tackle it in the best way- your way!

Winging It

By: Adair Bingham

I am positive that most university students are totally unsure what they should be doing at any given moment. At least, I know that’s how it feels for me. That being said, it’s perfectly OK to be uncertain of your life’s path. It’s OK to not have a plan for every tiny aspect in your life. It’s important to recognize that life has a slew of ups and downs, and that one little bump in the road isn’t the end of the world. In fact, I think that it’s for the best to just let life take its course and to take those bumps at face-value. Something good may come of them!

Allowing life to simply take its course is how I ended up where I am today. My college career up until this point has been rather incongruous, to say the least. In the beginning, I had no plans to attend this university, and although I’m not too proud of it, I have essentially waited until the very last second to do anything of importance. For example, I literally waited until the last hour of the last day that Portland State University was accepting applications to send mine in. I think that it goes without saying that I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today if I had made any other decision. It’s OK to stumble and take baby steps, eventually you’ll get to a place where you’re happy.

Even as I’m writing this, contemplating my awkward plunders navigating higher education and adult life, I must admit that I am truly surprised about what I have managed to achieve without a career-map, so to speak. I like to think that I’m on the right track, but truth be told: I really have no idea what I’m doing. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one, but it’s pretty easy to let a thought like that spiral out of control,  leading me to think, “Oh god I haven’t done anything right at all.” 

Clearly I’ve made it this far for a reason. It wasn’t by accident and it certainly wasn’t by pure luck that I’ve amounted to the success that I have. I wonder, sometimes, if I had a plan of action, if I would be better off in any way. I’m definitely trapped in the dichotomy of caring too little and too much all at the same time, but it certainly hasn’t hindered my ability to succeed. In the long-run, I think that winging it works best for me, and I’m going to continue to let life take me in whatever direction that it wants without making too much of a fuss. Life works in funny ways and things usually happen for a reason. So sit back and enjoy the ride, you never know what will happen!

A Page From My Book

  By: Adair Bingham

First things first: Your school is probably bleeding you dry with outrageous costs for textbooks and books for supplementary reading too. Often times, the school’s bookstore will brand itself as the cheapest outlet for the book, and does its best to assure you that there is no better deal out there. Often times, there are many better options.

Portland State University is no exception. As a student here, I’ve come to shell out a lot of cash for textbooks that I could’ve gotten for dirt cheap- had I just gone digging a little deeper.

One resource that I’ve recently discovered and would have really liked to have known about at the beginning of my freshman year is https://www.thriftbooks.com, where you can buy books for about $10 a pop, including required textbooks! Without a doubt, it’s definitely one of the best resources for buying used books for university courses.

I’ll admit I was a bit tentative at first about buying anything from this site. Not that it wasn’t professional looking or anything like that; But, as a college student, seeing a textbook for $3 instead of nearly $200 made me question the site’s legitimacy.

But being sleep-deprived and indigent, I decided that it was too good to pass up, and I bought it on a whim. I felt a twinge of regret as soon as I completed the transaction. Something in the back of my head told me I was just scammed, as if the site just took my credit card and ran amok with it.

I shrugged it off and went about my day as usual.

There was no tracking number included in my order, further adding to my feeling that this was a scam. But then a week later, I got a surprise email saying the book had arrived at the post office and was ready for me to pick it up.

It was shipped in some kind of flimsy wrapping, looking as if it had just barely escaped a drunken bar fight. It didn’t look very good, to say the least.

Imagine my surprise after I removed the wrapping paper to discover the book was not only the right one I needed for class, but it also looked in near- perfect condition. In fact, it was in an even better shape than the one I was renting from the library. Imagine that!

Since discovering the site, I’ve gone back multiple times to purchase books for leisure reading as well as supplemental books for my courses. Just like the first time, I’ve had absolutely no problems buying from the site. I cannot recommend it enough, especially for those penny-pinchers on campus!

Academic Burnout

 

   By: Adair Bingham

The world of academia is almost entirely composed of never-ending stress, purposeful procrastination, and the always present fear of failure. Grades have, for many years of my life, been a huge indicator self-worth. For me, and most likely many others, grades are a means to measure not only self-worth, but also intelligence and one’s ability to succeed in the real world.

Only recently, especially since being in college, have I realized that there is a extremely unhealthy push for students to earn grades over 90 percent, particularly among those who were raised believing they were special or gifted. Among my peers, I have often heard complaints and lengthy rants about how Bs are considered to be subpar and signify that the student didn’t try hard enough. Not only is this an deleterious mindset, but it is especially harmful to one’s sense of motivation and ability to feel as if they can succeed.

If one feels as if they cannot properly succeed in school with class assignments and tests, and is then made to feel as if a B of all things is something to be upset about, then it really showcases the issues with modern academia.

The term “academic burnout” is thrown around quite a bit and often goes hand-in-hand with the feeling of grades determining self-worth. From all of my years in school, I can confidently report that academic burnout is a serious and often neglected problem. It’s important to be honest and upfront about this issue when it comes to freshman students, returning students, and even school faculty.

With Spring Term just beginning, I believe it’s important to acknowledge that college is supposed to be a place of learning. Students are going to make mistakes and that’s not only perfectly acceptable, but also expected, and should always be used as a learning opportunity, not as a setback.

As clichéd as it may sound, I believe it’s important for students to realize that, in the long run, it truly isn’t going to matter what grade you received, only that you graduated. One thing that has helped me overcome the hurdles associated with “good” and “bad” grades has been thinking more about the situation in the future, rather than the present. For example, in four short months, just how much is one grade you got on an assignment actually going to matter? Often-times, you’ll discover that answer is very little or none at all, and that, overall, your grades do not dictate your future happiness or success in the real world.