[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.