Homebound Hobbies

By: Adair

There’s a high chance that you’ve either given up pursuing your New Year’s resolutions or, at the very least, just simply outright forgot about them. In the same vein, maybe that new hobby or activity that you wanted to try and pick up early on in 2020 was abandoned because of a flood of work and other demanding tasks that have made it exceptionally difficult to squeeze in any time to acquire a new skill, or simply take part in a fun and new hobby. If you’re quarantined at home and have found yourself with an abundance of free time on your hands, there’s no better time than the present than to try and dip your toes into something new, and see if it ends up being a right fit for you!

Personally, in the sudden abundance of free time that I’ve found myself essentially burdened with, I’ve decided to not only continue pushing forward with freelance commissions, but I’ve also decided to give creative writing and world-building the old college try. World-building for fictional settings and narratives has always both fascinated and inspired me, but it’s always been tough finding the right time to indulge in it. Not only that, but I’ve also always felt a little weak in my writing abilities, especially for creative fiction, but actively pursuing it now has helped me to not only overcome my doubts but also apply it to other personal projects of mine. Its helped me to meet new people that I otherwise would’ve never met, and it’s also helped me to discover a fun, creative hobby that previously intimated me. I’ll admit that it’s still difficult to feel any degree of confidence in what I’m doing with it, but it’s a productive way for me to pass the time and it’s also helped me to feel a greater degree of commitment in other creative projects of mine, too. 

So, branching off from this, I highly encourage you to be adventurous and take that first, shaky step into a new hobby or activity, especially one that can be done freely from your home! Not only will it help you to feel actively engaged with something new but you may also find yourself with a highly rewarding hobby, also. If you’ve found yourself going stir crazy with nothing else to do at home, it’s also a great way to transform any negative energy into something positive instead and make something good out of something bad. Let alone, it may also very well be that extra boost that you need to help get you through what is hopefully the final stretch of the governor’s “stay at home” order. 

Life At Home

By: Adair

In less than two weeks, everything that I’ve thoughtfully had planned for spring term, and even for summer vacation has been turned up on its head. My schedules, daily routines, and even my usual bout of activities have been thrown off balance in every way imaginable. 

This is commonplace for everyone now, especially here in America. In about two weeks’ time, everyone’s world has been confounded and everyone is feeling befuddled. Right now, nobody can be too sure about what the future is going to look like, and nobody has any clue about how things are going to be handled. Plans and usual activities keep getting uprooted in the blink of an eye, and it’s been really difficult to keep a clear head with all this chaos going around.

The world is a disastrous mess of chaos, panic, and frantic frenzy. Frightened families are hoarding necessary supplies, others are deliberately ignoring safety protocol, and some continue to spread dangerous misinformation to further incite fear-mongering among the general public. Hard-working people are trapped at home, while others have no choice but to remain at work and brave the new world that we know. It’s confusing, disorientating, and honestly pretty scary. We’re all learning how to navigate a new world, and more importantly, we’re all learning how to take care of ourselves and our loved ones during this pandemic. Feeling productive while trapped at home is exceptionally difficult. Feeling stir crazy is a problem all on its own, and it’s slowly but surely taking hold of everyone that I know.

With all this in mind, though, I think that it’s more important now than ever to understand that everyone in the world faces this pandemic. It’s global, and it only continues to grow with severity with each day that passes. We’re all going through this together and we’re all simply doing our best to survive through it.

Although it isn’t the end of the world, it’s important to understand the gravity of the situation and to not only respect and understand the safety protocols that have been implemented, but to also educate yourself and your loved ones about what it means to be healthy and safe during this time.

Be aware of your surroundings, the current events, and most important: be considerate and courteous to yourself. Allow yourself some time to get adjusted to all that’s happening, and understand that we’re surviving through this together.

Spring Cleaning

By: Adair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

The Unspoken Truth Of College

 

adbi2 By: Adair

Before I moved from home to live in in my own dormitory in September of 2017, my head was filled with false narratives and elaborate ideas about what college life is like. I was always led to believe that it was an endless hustle and bustle: wild parties left and right, new romantic partners at every turn and reckless decisions made just for the fun of it.

I’m in my second year of university, and I haven’t experienced any of these things. What I have undergone isn’t cruel or unusual. It’s simply the strange truths of college life which many students like to sweep under the rug.

After I graduated from high school, I was playing my faux “cool guy” persona, trying to fool myself into believing that I was prepared to live on my own.  If I had the power to turn back time and let myself know what college life is truly like, I think that I’d be both relieved and horribly confused.

One thing that definitely seems to be a disregarded problem is laundry. Everyone is well aware of the fact that college isn’t cheap, and if you’re living in the dorms, this fact hits even harder. College students want to save as much money as they possibly can, leaving some people to skimp out on weekly laundry hauls. Nobody ever told me to prepare for the fact that you may have to wear the same outfit for two or three weeks on end. Granted, nobody is going to say anything (hopefully), but you’ll definitely feel like you perpetually stink.

Another thing people conventionally forget in their college stories is what can only be described as the gladiator battle for seating in classes. One thing that I have discovered (and seems to be a universal experience amongst my peers) is that if someone happens to sit in your typical seat, your entire day is thrown off balance.

In the same vein, one key piece of advice that I would give to upcoming college students is to always scope out your classes prior to the first day. I cannot even begin to describe the primal sense of fear that surges through your body when you cannot find a class. It is one of the worst things to experience.

Another thing that many neglect to tell you is that literally nobody is going to pass judgement onto you for what you wear, what your interests are, or anything of that superficial nature. I came into college fearing disdain from my peers, but no one has batted an eye at me for any of my interests, tastes, or anything of the sort.

If I could go back in time to tell myself one thing, it would be to not be afraid of the people, the atmosphere, or living on my own. You’ll encounter bumps in the road and minor hiccups along the way, but you are prepared to be in college and you’ll be just fine, despite your doubts.