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.

The Unspoken Truth Of College

 

adbi2 By: Adair Bingham

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.

 

[Unconventional] Social Butterfly

      By: Adair Bingham

Ever since I was young, the idea of being a social butterfly frightened me. As a child, I was far from the type to be invited to parties and I was never first pick for sports teams. I was that socially awkward stereotype all throughout my primary academic years, and sometimes I still fall back on it. As I got older, I realized that I need to implement a change in life. It didn’t matter how small it was, what I needed was something new, something that I never would have dreamed of partaking in.

That change was social media. Many of my formative years were spent fearing social media, how it warped people’s sense of reality and how it was nothing but garbage content produced by outlandish, awful people. At least, that’s what I was told.

But as someone who wants to work in the creative industry, I knew that I needed to have an online presence.

At nineteen and after some heckling from friends, I hesitantly made my first-ever social media account: Instagram. I let it sit alone and unoccupied for one month before I even had an icon. A month after that, after riding out some strange wave of confidence, I posted my first drawing. I used the amount of likes as a means to measure my worth as an artist. Sometimes it would make me feel horribly self-conscious. At other times, I’d feel like the very definition of narcissist. It was like some kind of game, you could play to either make yourself feel special or just outright awful. I’m well aware the amount of likes and followers one has are all superficial, but it gives you some kind of elevated importance. After consistently posting my work, and during a particularly rough spot of self-depreciation, something that I never dreamed of happened.

I posted a piece of artwork inspired by one of my favorite games and it was noticed by the developers themselves. As small as it may seem, the fact that they saw it and acknowledged it greatly inspired me, and that was truly something special. It gave me the confidence that I so desperately needed to keep creating. So, I started posting on different platforms, and the day after doing so came floods of requests to buy artwork from me.

I am living out one of my longtime dreams: to be a freelance artist and to sell artwork. After harboring an irrational fear of social media for years, I am finally glad to call it a friend. Ideally, the takeaway from this is to unlearn your fear, to unlearn what you may have been told from others. Great things can come from it, and the only way to know is to take the first step into the unknown.Be bold, be brave, and be unashamedly weird in your creative endeavors. Most importantly, always create from what inspires you. Life is too short to not dabble in something new, even if it may be as small as social media.

 

Keep Portland Geeky

      adbi2  By: Adair Bingham

I recently attended Portland’s own annual anime convention, aptly named Kumoricon (or Cloudy Con). As a novice con-goer, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I felt like a bit of a clown as I passed my school peers dressed in a not-so-flattering green wig and anime apparel from a show that I don’t regularly watch. Public transportation felt like a one-way ticket to shame town, especially since my friends and I were the only ones in bizarre attire. That feeling, however, quickly vanishes as soon we arrived at the convention center.

I’m writing this on the final day of the convention, reflecting on just how welcoming, warm, and energetic these types of communities are. They’re also unexpectedly diverse. Often, the kinds of people who attend these conventions are severely misrepresented and made out to be obnoxious and horrid, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

As someone who has always had a strong interest in anything and everything nerdy, I felt as if this was where I truly belonged. Being surrounded by hundreds of other like-minded people is a rejuvenating experience, especially for an entire weekend. In fact, this was my first ever experience being surrounded by so many other people like me and it was amazing.

I’m well aware that there are lots of other people who have interests akin to mine, and I’m not as alone as I was in high school, but isolation is still a hard feeling to shake. Living in Portland has shown me that no matter who you are and what your interests may be, there is always a community that will be ecstatic to welcome you.